Distress Call Made by Cycleurope France
A very unusual protest demonstration took place last week in Nantes, France. Here workers from nearby Cycleurope Machecoul facility pedalled to the city to rally there in a plea to get the French government
MACHECOUL, France – A very unusual protest demonstration took place last week in Nantes, France. Here workers from nearby Cycleurope Machecoul facility pedalled to the city to rally there in a plea to get the French government to install incentives for bikes as there are for cars.
Claude Figueras, plant manager at Cycleurope, Machecoul organized the protest demonstration in cooperation with the trade union CGT. The distress call made by the Cycleurope manager was sparked by a 30% drop in the demand for bikes made in Machecoul.
Local newspapers reported that Figueras organized the rally because of the current publicity around bicycles in France that is presenting an incorrect picture. He commented: “Stop saying that the bike business is doing well. Not true! That false idea comes from publicity around the public bikes rental schemes in cities. Everybody forgets that only 100,000 bikes are involved in such schemes on a total French annual sale of about 3.5 million bicycles.
"nobody helps us"
“We have problems and nobody helps us. It is not only the car that suffers from this crisis. We would like as the car industry also to have an incentive from the government to spur sales!”
Since last fall, the French bike market is struggling. And with a 30% production drop Cycleurope in France is feeling the pinch. “It’s worrying,” says Philippe Figueras in a local newspaper. “In normal times, 400,000 bikes a year come from our assembly lines. This year I hope to reach 320,000. To date, we need 10,000 more to achieve that number. After the holidays, I expect to run into cash flow problems.”
It’s not the first time that Cycleurope, Machecoul is faced with difficulties. The company owned by Grimaldi Industri AB in Stockholm, Sweden operates two bike plants in France; next to the one in Machecoul there is also a Cycleurope facility in Romilly. In 2007 Grimaldi Industri AB sold the Machecoul plant in a sale-and-leaseback scheme to the local government for 3 million euros in order to obtain the necessary cash for a revival plan. The photo on this page shows the protest demonstration that took place at that time. Currently 285 people are working at the Machecoul bike plant.
The trade union CGT also called upon the French government to lower the VAT on bikes in France in order to: “Make our products competitive in the face of China and to promote a new environmental movement.” The union would also like cities with rental bike schemes to have their bikes made at French factories.
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