Zéfal invests in French production facilities as sales rise

JARGEAU, France - Between 2020 and 2021, Zéfal, specialised in the manufacture of ‘Made in France' bicycle accessories, experienced very strong sales growth. In order to consolidate its development, the company has invested heavily in modernising its production facilities in Jargeau, located two hours south of Paris.
The Zéfal plant, located in Jargeau, has been in the midst of a modernization phase for three years through investment in many new machines and assembly lines. - Photo Daniel Beres

The family company, headed by two brothers, Matthieu and Aurélien Brunet, saw sales rise substantially due to the popularity of cycling in France, but also in Europe. According to Aurélien Brunet, Deputy General Manager in charge of the sales and the marketing, Zéfal had a difficult period in the first quarter of 2020 because of Covid-19, but since May 2020, the activity has been very strong.

25% increase in turnover

“We ended 2020 with a turnover of €14.2 million, which is up 25% compared to €11 million in 2019. For 2021, our turnover should reach €20 million, up 40%”, says Aurélien Brunet adding that the business is doing very well in Europe with sales up 35% between 2020 and 2021.

Although the company is posting good results, Aurélien Brunet does not hide the fact that the pandemic is bringing its share of problems with a direct impact on cost prices and delivery times, which can be delayed by about a month.

Mathieu Brunet, President of Zéfal, and his brother Aurélien, General Manager in charge of the sales and the marketing.
Mathieu Brunet, President of Zéfal, and his brother Aurélien, General Manager in charge of the sales and the marketing.

Export represents around 70% of sales

Today, the company makes more than 70% of its sales outside France, 45% of which are in Europe and 25% in the rest of the world (South America and Canada). For the US market, the company has signed a license agreement. “Our main markets are Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia and Central Europe. We are a little less present in Belgium and the Netherlands,” says the Deputy General Manager.

Today, the French brand is distributed in several thousand independent shops, specialized chains and on the internet. While Zéfal does some of its business directly with the key accounts, the company works mainly with distributors and wholesalers in the French and European markets.

Modernising the production tools

Regarding the increase of the competition from Asia, the company has chosen to design all its ranges in France. Zéfal also wanted to modernize its production tools to increase the production capacity in France. Currently, 60% of the ranges come from France and 40% from Asia. For example, water bottles, bottle cages, maintain products, but also many items related to mobility (mirrors, locks, luggage or bells) are manufactured or assembled in France. Zéfal has also announced the creation of a new foot-pump with a digital nanometer, entirely assembled in Jargeau.

In the last three years, the French company has invested in several machines such as a new filling line for burettes, presses and plastic injection machines. In the first quarter of 2022, a blow-molding machine and a brand-new bottle assembly line will complete the modernization phase of the Jargeau plant.

Further investment plans

“Between November 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, we will have invested more than €1 million in our production tools. We can talk about several million if we go back more than three years. We really needed to modernize our production equipment,” admits Aurélien Brunet, who is already talking about future investments in the manufacture of mini-pumps. “Some of our models could be manufactured in France from 2023. We are also working on the acquisition of CNC machines to be able to produce aluminum parts,” he concludes.