<b>Egypt 2007:</b> Market Still Dominated by India
CAIRO, Egypt – Egypt has always been an important market for Indian bicycle component makers. Moreover, Egypt has emerged as an important base for catering to neighbouring markets. Besides catering for the domestic market, we also serve the markets of neighbouring countries in Africa like Libya, Morocco, and Sudan, said Mr Saad El Basha, owner of Egypt’s largest and oldest bicycle component importer, El Basha Co.
CAIRO, Egypt – Egypt has always been an important market for Indian bicycle component makers. Moreover, Egypt has emerged as an important base for catering to neighbouring markets. “Besides catering for the domestic market, we also serve the markets of neighbouring countries in Africa like Libya, Morocco, and Sudan,” said Mr Saad El Basha, owner of Egypt’s largest and oldest bicycle component importer, El Basha Co.
The company is the oldest importer of complete bicycles from Indian Avon. “We have been importing bicycles from Avon for the last 26 years,” said Saad El Basha. As the largest Avon bicycle importer in Africa, the firm sources a minimum of about 100,000 bike kits annually from the Ludhiana-based bike maker. “We have very good relations with the Avon Group,” said Tamer El Basha, son of Saad El Basha. “100,000 bikes is our minimum order, and we have imported as many as 300,000 bikes from Avon before the invasion of Iraq.”
Eastman is emerging as the fastest growing exporter to Egypt. Another Cairo-based company, ‘Five A Export-Import’ (or Al-Kharrat) is the largest importer of Eastman-made bicycle components. ‘Five A’ has reached an agreement with Eastman to supply 90 container loads of products over the next three years. “We may source more than 100 containers depending on the demand but 90 containers is the minimum that we have agreed on sourcing from Eastman, beginning with 25 containers this year,” confided Mr Abdalla S Mohamed, owner of Five A Export – Import.
It also supplies the markets of Sudan, Algeria and Libya besides the domestic Egyptian market. Five A imports about 80 different components from Eastman, including forks, frames, freewheels, chainwheels and pedals. Explaining the major reason for the rising popularity of Eastman brand, Abdalla S Mohamed said that “Eastman works strictly to our specifications.” Eastman supplies ‘Five A’ from its bases in India and China. It also sources about five containers of bicycle components annually from Hero Cycles, besides sourcing some items from Avon Cycles as well.
Meanwhile, El Basha is also planning to introduce Indian motorcycle models to Egyptian roads. “We are studying the feasibility of importing motorcycles from Indian makers like Bajaj and LML Ltd soon, as we found that Egypt has a huge market to be tapped,” said Saad Al Basha. It may be a good move as there are hardly any two-wheelers to be seen in cities like Cairo and Alexandria.
Over the years Indian suppliers have lost price competitiveness to Chinese brands. “In the past about 400 containers were imported from India annually but now this volume has halved about 200 containers,” said Abdalla S Mohamed.
“Price is the major reason for the shift to China,” agreed Saad Al Basha. El Basha has huge sourcing capacity as at one time it was importing about half a million tyres from Ralson alone. “We are still the biggest agent for Ralson Tyres in Egypt, but now the order volume has gone down,” said Saad El Basha. The firm has been sourcing about 800,000 bicycle tyres/tubes from Kenda alone, from the Taiwanese maker’s production bases in Taiwan, China & Vietnam.
El Basha also imports components from other Indian suppliers like Sovereign, Big-Ben, Avery, Nova etc. in smaller numbers. However, local importers have no plans to manufacture bicycles in Egypt. “It is better to import bicycles from India than manufacture here, as production and labor costs are higher in Egypt,” explained Saad El Basha.