French E-bike Sales Continue to Flourish

Sales & Trends

PARIS, France – On a volume of more than 2.7 million, e-bike sales are still small at 56,000 units. However, in 2013 it was the main segment with double digit growth figures in a slightly decreasing French bicycle market. It was a difficult year for local production and Cycleurope found Intersport to continue the Machecoul operation.

French E-bike Sales Continue to Flourish

The industry and retail organisations CNPC and FPS report a very positive 2013 regarding sales of parts and accessories, like locks, pumps, helmets, apparel, wheels, etc, with an increase of 8% compared to 2012. The combined 2013 bicycles, parts and accessories market in France rose by 3.1% over the year to reach a total of €1.502 billion.

Electric bicycles were again the bright spot on the 2013 French market, despite the fact that sales increased less quickly than many had hoped. For the sixth year in a row more e-bikes were sold, but the volume is still not impressive compared to the total market volume and the market size in nearby countries like Germany and the Netherlands, In 2013 a total number of 56,000 Vélos Assistance Electrique (VAE) or e-bikes were sold; up 17.5% on the 46,000 sold in 2012.

French Bicycle Market 2013

Volume* Value* Average retail price
IBDs 686.1 € 437.2 mn € 674
Sports Supermarkets 1,392.3 € 282.5 mn € 203
Hypermarche 631.9 € 70.3 mn € 111
Internet 75 € 55 mn € 733

* x 1,000


Increasing average price

According to the market statistics published by the French bicycle industry and retail organisations CNPC and FPS, the overall French bicycle market performed much better than expected, as in many other European countries spring weather was cold and wet as well. In 2013 the French market declined by 1% compared with 2012 to 2,785,300. Thanks to the ongoing increase of the average price to €303 in 2013, the total market value of bicycles saw a small dip only of -0.4%.

The French market saws some remarkable difference in average price. A road race bike costs on average €1251, an e-bike only €836, and a mountain bike just €349. French online retailers also show that webshops are not always cheaper than independent bicycle dealers (IBDs). In France a bicycle sold via the Internet costs on average €733 while consumers pay €674 on average in a shop.

An explanation could be that retailers are struggling to sell MY2013 bicycles and had to grant additional discounts to clear their stock. 2013 can be regarded as a breakthrough for Internet sales in France, as their business increased by 32% in a declining market. In value, Internet sales of bicycles, parts and accessories today represent 14% of the market in value or €212 million. In total some 7% of all bicycles and 22% of components and accessories are sold online in France.

Retail distribution

The leading distribution channel in France still is the independent bicycle dealer (IBD) with a market share of 45% in value of bicycles and accessories. They even managed to grow their business last year, with a small 1.5% in value. Their market share in bicycles is relatively 
stable at 24%.

By far the biggest channel for bicycle distribution is the multibrand sports stores with a market share of 50% of all bicycles, or 1,392.3 million units. In 2013 these multibrand sports stores saw their turnover share decline by 1%, to 33% representing €497.6 million. The well-known French Hypermarché is still the third biggest distributor of bicycles in France, with a market share of 22%. In turnover, the hypermarchés will soon be outnumbered by the webshops, who manage to sell much more expensive bicycles. In the hypermarchés the average price of a bicycle is €111. Though their volume is still relatively high with 631.9 million bicycles, the turnover amounts to only €70.3 million.

Bicycle Distribution in France


Turnover in
bicycles and P&A*
Bicycle retail 45% € 674,9 mn + 1%
Sports supermarkets 33% € 497,6 mn – 1%
Internet 14% € 212 mn + 32%
Hypermarkets 8% € 117,8 mn – 1.5%

* x 1,000


Local production, import and export

According to the CNPC/FPS report some 630,000 bicycles were produced in France last year while 561,534 units, valued at €117 million, were exported. It was a difficult year for the French industry. One of the country’s largest production sites – Machecoul, went into receivership and owner Cycleurope had to look for a partner in order to continue the operations. Employing 205 people, Machecoul was primarily focused on bike sales to the mass market and that business deteriorated seriously over the past years. Cycleurope stated that the retail mass market conditions, with its focus on big retail chains, had seriously deteriorated and fierce competition affected the margins strongly. In the last four years Machecoul’s key account sales volume declined by 36%. Fortunately Cycleurope managed to reach an agreement with Intersport France. The retail giant became the new owner of Machecoul.

Not surprisingly, one of Intersport’s suppliers was the next to get in trouble. In November last year, Perigny based Planet Fun had to lay off the majority of its staff. As well as Intersport, Decathlon also turned to other ways of sourcing, resulting in a bleak picture of the future for Planet Fun. In March 2014 Planet Fun was placed under safeguard proceedings by the court of La Rochelle for at least six months awaiting a final decision of the court.

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