“The brand name Eddy Merckx has a long history, was often a frontrunner among bicycle brands and means much to the Belgian cycling industry,” Aerts adds. “Eddy Merckx and Ridley are internationally the two most renowned Belgian cycling brands and we expect that the synergy will strengthen both brands.” Aerts did not disclose the amount paid to take-over his former competitor.
Icon brand Eddy Merckx
Bart van Muylder, CEO of Diepensteyn NV and still owner of the company Eddy Merckx Cycles NV “We are tremendously pleased that Ridley shares our vision for the future of the Merckx brand. In the past years and with great passion we have continued to build this iconic brand. This has resulted in a sensational new collection, internationalisation of sales and a breakthrough in the USA where nearly 1,500 Merckx bikes were sold last year.”
Despite these achievement Eddy Merckx Cycles was still too small for a financially solid future. Bart van Muylder explained that “the limited scale had a negative impact on our purchase power and sales prices which caused the fixed structural costs to continue to put pressure on the results. Furthermore, as a small player in the industry, we simply do not carry enough weight internationally to attract the strongest distribution partners.”
Synergy of the two brands
Van Muylder concluded that “if the Merckx brand really wants to breakthrough worldwide, it must join a big player. We considered it our responsibility to keep this piece of Belgian patrimony in Belgian hands. Ridley, with its baseline, ‘We are Belgium’, and its worldwide distribution network, is for us the ideal party to carry on this tribute to Eddy Merckx.”
The strength of the name Eddy Merckx was reflected by the news last week that the start of the Tour de France 2019 will take place in Brussels, Belgium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Merckx’s first out of five editions victories of this race in 1969.
Survival of the brand
“We guarantee the survival and further development of this brand”, says Aerts, “This takeover creates a kind of cross-pollination of the two Belgian brands within our company. Our in-house R&D will keep the Eddy Merckx bikes at the highest level, with respect for the unique identity and heritage associated with the brand and its specific designs, of course. This takeover will give an extra boost to the Belgian cycling industry. Merckx can become the next jewel in the crown of Bike Valley and do an even better job representing Belgium at an international level, together with Ridley, which has been present at the WorldTour peloton for years.”
“Belgium is acclaimed for its unique cycling culture. Thanks to riders like Eddy Merckx, the most successful cyclist of all time, we have been the home of the races for many years. That is why the synergy between Eddy Merckx and Ridley is such good news. Belgium, the centre of the world when it comes to cycling, now more than ever,” adds Aerts.