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French Market Reports Growth for 3rd Consecutive Year

Sales & Trends 1159

PARIS, France – The French bike market has registered growth for the third year in a row. According to the French bicycle observatory, sales increased to a total of €1.795 billion (including P&A) with 3,034,000 bikes sold in 2016. E-bike sales increased by over 30% to 134,000 units, with an average retail price of over €1000.

French Market Reports Growth for 3rd Consecutive Year
As in other EU countries, vast majority of e-bikes are sold by specialists’ shops. But new powerful rivals entered the market. – Photo Bike Europe

According to the French bicycle observatory, sales continued to increase in 2016, rising 1.3% to a total of over 3 million bicycles and e-bikes. Compared to 2015, total turnover in bicycles and e-bikes increased by 6.4% to a total of €1.023 billion. This result marks the 3rd consecutive year of growth and the first time since 2012 sales have passed the 3 million mark.

14 million French people cycling

“The French market has shown its dynamic with 14 million people cycling in the past twelve months,” said Jérôme Valentin, CEO of Cycleurope France and co-chairman of the Union Sport & Cycle federation, which made the 2016 market statistics public. “Moreover, cycling is becoming trendier, and bicycling is not only (just) for leisure anymore.”

Statistics show that in the different urban areas some 500.000 French cycle to work representing 2% of the active population. The French manufacturers are also in a good mood. Some 25% of the total market volume or about 750,000 units were manufactured in France.

P&A sales up 6%

The market for components, equipment and accessories also generated an impressive growth in sales of 5.9%, to €772 million. The two segments combined bring the French market value to a total of €1.795 billion, an increase of 6% compared with 2015. Partly due to the larger market volume of e-bikes the average retail price is also rising. According to Union Sport & Cycle, the average price is now €337 compared to €321 in 2015, and €307 in 2014. The MTB is still the leading segment in volume with 926,000 units sold last year (+ 7 %) at a total value of €343 million. This is including e-MTBs. The market for road bikes decreased but thanks to a higher average price of €1.368 the road bikes are still a dynamic category with a turnover of €206 million. The market for urban bikes, including e-bikes generated total sales of €150 million.

Over 30% growth in e-bike sales

Last year, e-bikes sales increased by 31.4% to 134,000 units. Urban and trekking e-bikes are the most popular with total sales of 106,000 units. The e-MTB is also growing in France. 2016 statistics show that 15,300 e-MTB’s have been sold – a 72% increase from the 9,000 sold in 2015 and the 6,000 in 2014. For this year a further increase in e-MTB sales is expected as well as the growth for the complete e-bike sector. In particular because of different French national government measures. The most important one is the subsidy (up to € 200) for purchasing an e-bike. French e-bike sales started up very slowly in the past years compared to the other leading bicycle markets in Europe, but 2016 has been the turning point for the e-bike market in France. It’s important to notice that 121,000 e-bikes have been sold through the retail network to the consumer, representing a total of €123 million. The remaining 13,000 were sold directly to rental companies or private companies. Thanks to the e-bike’s relatively high average retail price of €1.018 this product is an important turnover generator for the IBDs.

With a total of 106,000 units the e-bike was best represented in the urban and trekking category. But as noted, the e-MTB market is also growing in France, especially in the mountain areas.

E-MTB is market driver

“The classic MTB riders have switched to e-MTB and e-bikes. This segment is driving up the market,” said Valentin. “Some 15.000 e-bikes have been sold since the start of the government subsidy program. For the moment, this subsidy program will continue until January 31st, 2018. It will be one of the tasks of the Union Sport & Cycle federation to get this program extended.”

The sport retail chains are pushing

Regarding distribution, the French bicycle observatory confirmed the trend that all the distribution channels have taken advantage of the market growth. The only exception is the supermarket channel, which saw a continued decline in its market share. Despite their growth in volume (+ 6 %), the supermarket’s turnover dropped to €180 million (- 3%). Sport retail chains like Décathlon, Go Sport, Intersport, and some others have experienced a very good financial year. With €377 million and 1.67 million units sold, they are the major bike sellers in France. Hopefully, the IBD’s will maintain their leading position in terms of average value. The 2016 specialists’ channel turnover was approximately €501 million (49% of the total market) while volume decreased by 6% to 670,000 bikes. What about the Internet? For now, online sales are not too strong for bikes (121,000 units). But, this is the opposite in P&A market where on-line shops have a market share of 27%, representing a turnover of €208 million, an increase of 10% compared with 2015.

Powerful rivals in e-bike sales

As in other European countries, the vast majority of the e-bikes were mainly sold by specialists’ shops. But this could change in the next few years due to the development at retailers like Intersport who now consider the e-bike as a main pillar of their strategies. In 2016, the e-bike turnover of this retail network has grown by 81% in value and 82% in volume. New powerful rivals have also entered the market like the car-superstores Norauto or Feu Vert, which are pushing the e-bike in their shops, offering very attractive prices.

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