2018 Is Off To Good Start
DOETINCHEM, the Netherlands – Will 2018 bring a recovery of the European bicycle market? Will the continued drop in market volume, probably partly caused by the e-bike successes, finally be stopped? First reports signal that 2018 is off to a good start.
Three sources indicate that the bike sector has embarked on its road to market volume recovery. These sources are Shimano, Orbea and Accell Group.
‘Robust retail sales’
Shimano’s financial results for the first quarter of this year show a good 2018 start. The company’s result in net sales of bicycle components increased by 5.1%. 2017 sales (for the first nine months of the year) rose by only 1.8%. On its performance in bicycle components’ sales during the first three months of this year, Shimano says in its financial report “In Europe, while retail sales of completed bicycles, mainly e-bikes, stayed in a robust situation since the second half of the previous year, distributor inventories of bicycles remained at an appropriate level.”
“In North America, although retail sales of completed bicycles were sluggish at the beginning of the year, distributor inventories maintained an appropriate level. In China, retail sales of completed bicycles showed no signs of recovery and retail sales of low-end and middle-range bicycles continued to be sluggish, although distributor inventories remained at an appropriate level. In the Japanese market, retail sales of both sports bicycles and community bicycles were lackluster, partly due to unstable weather, such as heavy snowfalls. Distributor inventories remained at a slightly high level, though they were in an appropriate range. Under these market conditions, the Shimano STEPS E8000 drive unit for e-MTBs, the DI2 (electronic shifting system) version and the disc brakes of the ULTEGRA road bike components were well received in the market since the previous year. As a result, net sales from this segment increased 5.1% from the same period of the previous year to JPY 68,000 million (€ 511m).”
Orbea: ‘spectacular 2018 start’
Its 2018 start is for Orbea reason to publish a triumphant press release. The Spanish bicycle manufacturer reports a 26% sales increase for the first quarter of 2018. CEO Jon Fernandez notes “We have reached € 28 million in invoicing, which represents a 26% increase over the same period in 2017. In spite of the harsh winter, 2018 is off to a spectacular start for Orbea. The first three months of the year have turned into the best in the brand’s history. Moreover, these gains have been across the board, in every product category we sell. Comparing this year’s figures to the same period in 2016, we realize a 55% increase. The boost in demand is something we anticipated in our Management Plan in light of the data we had at that time. But the scope of the growth has exceeded even our best expectations.
“We are tackling this demand with enthusiasm and commitment – we’ve made a substantial investment in our facilities in Mallabia, where we opened a new painting zone on April 16, and we have implemented new manufacturing and assembly lines. We’re continuously adding new talent in all areas of Orbea. We are also working shoulder to shoulder with our suppliers in order to increase our purchase orders.”
What probably contributed to Orbea’s sales successes is the fact that the company now has online sales for complete bikes as well as P&A in place in ten European countries. Among them the biggest EU markets of Germany, France, Italy, the UK as well as Holland and Belgium.
Accell reports order growth
First optimistic signals on what 2018 will bring was reported by Accell Group last March when Europe biggest in bikes published its 2017 financial report. Here it is stated “In Europe, we benefited from our leading position in the field of e-bikes. Sales of e-performance bikes for active recreation and sports saw a particularly strong increase and we also recorded a further increase in the order file for 2018.”
What’s noteworthy in the Orbea report is what CEO Fernandez says on “growth that has exceeded even our best expectations” as well as “increased purchasing orders at suppliers”. This is in particular significant as already Dutch retailers are noting extended (months-long) delivery times for in particular Bosch equipped e-bikes. On what’s causing delivery delays is, next to an already high demand for e-bikes, in particular new possibilities for consumers to lease the e-bike of their choice. Leasing e-bikes is said to be currently very popular in Belgium and Germany. And e-bike leasing is coming in many more EU markets making e-bikes more affordable.