Bulgarian Maxeurope Group Gearing Up
PLOVDIV, Bulgaria – With Pexco’s brand Raymon as its newest customer, Bulgarian OEM maker Maxcom is gearing its bicycle and e-bike production to new highs. Right from the start of Pexco by (ex-Winora MD) Susanne Puello in August 2017 it was claimed that the production of the company’s newly established brands – Husqvarna, Raymon and R2R – would mainly take place in Europe. “And in Bulgaria in particular”, was said at that time. For that Pexco has now partnered with the biggest bike maker of Bulgaria.
Maxcom’s focus is on its OEM assembly operation. And in particular servicing high-end brands operating in Europe. This claimed Maxcom CEO Maxim Mitkov at a Bike Europe visit in October 2015. That visit was related to a 4.5 million euro investment of the company in its assembly quality, in painting facilities, in machinery, in staff training as well as in its logistic capabilities with extra stock-holding capacity. With that the company wanted to attract the interest of, as said, high-end brands operating in Europe. It proved successful as Pexco is now Maxcom’s newest customer. For heralding that, Pexco organized a tour through the Maxcom facility for its German and Austrian dealers last month which Bike Europe joined.
More than only assembly operation
The 4.5 million investment late 2015 followed on the 15 million euro spent for a brand new Maxcom facility that was opened in 2007 in Plovdiv; a city that is a one-and-a-half hour drive from the country’s capital – Sofia. High volume production took off here for Mitkov, who started in bikes in 1999.
Maxcom is already assembling the more expensive bikes that carry the best-known names of the industry. Like Bianchi, Stevens and HF Christiansen’s Winther. These are being produced next to Pexco’s Raymon branded e-bikes and regular bicycles. At the dealer tour of the Maxcom facility the Raymon bicycles and e-bikes were at the front of the assembly lines being carefully put together by the Maxcom staff. It’s also said that Maxcom is producing for the Pon Bike Group.
Nowadays this Bulgarian factory produces bicycles and e-bikes for a double-digit number of customers based in Western-Europe. Maxim Mitkov “OEM customers account for 97 percent of our annual production”. The remaining capacity is used for the company’s own brands; Shockblaze and Sprint.
While Maxcom is “Proud and aware of our responsibility to be a Pexco partner”, the German bicycle and e-bike supplier itself is debuting with a close-to-market production. “With Maxcom behind us we are with our Raymon brand breaking new grounds”, emphasized Susanne Puello.
Currently Maxcom has an annual capacity of 400,000 bicycles and e-bikes. According to Maxim Mitkov, this year full capacity utilization will almost be reached for the first time which has also to do with his new customer Raymon. What this boils down to is that Maxcom has grown into one of the largest bicycle makers in Europe. Mitkov added “Since our start we produced and marketed over six million units and assembled some 8,000 different models over the years”.
Today Maxcom is part of the Maxeurope Group. Next to the production company Maxcom Ltd. Maxeurope Group manages the sales and R&D departments as well as a flagship store located at the company’s HQ and Chipolino Ltd. which sells baby products.
Assembly and rim production
Maxcom operates five 40-meter-long assembling lines. The paint shop has 4 electrostatic disks, 2 powder-coating and water-based paint lines. The company produces its own alloy rims in both single and double wall configurations. Annual capacity here stands at 1.5 million rims. They are made into complete wheels by automated wheel-building with Holland Mechanics and Mach 1 machinery. Production is automated here because wages in the current Balkan boom countries Bulgaria and Romania are growing strongly. According to Susanne Puello, last year alone Maxcom wages rose two times; each by 15 percent. These double-digit salary increases are currently the biggest problem Maxim Mitkov is facing. It results in more investments in modern, automated production machinery.
Warehouse and On-Time-Delivery
The OEM production services that Maxcom offers includes open calculation quotes, ISO certification, parts purchasing as well as stock keeping and logistics services. For being able to rapidly supply its OEM customers Maxcom relies on large warehouses. They offer space for some 60,000 e-bikes and regular bicycles. 20 to 40 trucks ship the Maxcom made bikes each day. The logistics centre also houses the 8,000m² parts warehouse. Here the frames for the Pexco e-bike brands Husqvarna and Raymon are directly shipped to. The frames are sourced from Astro’s Vietnam, facility as well as from Asama-Taiwan.
Pexco to break new grounds with Raymon
At the dealer tour Pexco MD Susanne Puello explained the company’s brand strategy. She said “Pexco’s license brand Husqvarna Bicycles is our flagship. Raymon is our young ‘fast-follower-brand’ with which we want to break new grounds”.
Sales director Bernd Lesch told more on the planned course for Raymon. He said “A clear goal for 2020 is to expand sales in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as internationally”. Next to Germany, Austria and Switzerland Pexco is currently also selling its bicycles and e-bikes “In the Benelux countries, France, Italy, parts of Scandinavia, Poland and the Czech Republic”.
Eying the company’s sales expansion plans Lesch pointed to Pexco’s capability for speedy deliveries. “That’s for us a very central point. Many models are available for immediate delivery”. Elaborating on that Pexco’s sales director claimed that at the start of the 2019 season Pexco has “over 25,000 bicycles and e-bikes in stock”. Moreover, the German company is relying on synergies with its co-owner from Austria.On that it was said “We are aiming at the targeted use of the infrastructure of Pexco’s co-owner”.