Market Talk Cycling iQ

This week: Specialized s Very Special Things micro-site; Pirelli shareholders approve Chinese merger; Australian Bicycle Industry summit to be held in Canberra next month; Velo-city Taipei; welcome to industry publication Cycle Trade; Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles merger analysis.

Market Talk is a collection of market intelligence from across the Asia-Pacific region selected to educate and inform anyone interested in understanding the APAC bicycle industry, its key players and the business behind the machines.


Interesting things happen inside the headquarters of global bike brands, particularly in the R&D, product design/management and engineering departments. But seldom do consumers get to see the creations of imaginative employees who often stay behind tinkering after hours or come into the office on weekends to squeeze in side-projects that might one day (or not) be commercialised.

Specialized s Very Special Things micro-site now offers a glimpse into this world. Described as a home for passion projects created by the people of Specialized , the site contains images and stories from employees who are embarking on, or have completed, projects usually not afforded their own dedicated platform.

Though VST has been up and running for almost one year, Specialized has made no attempts to give it any exposure. This may seem unusual for such a marketing-savvy enterprise but, when you think about it, anything so highly concealed is bound to attract more attention than if it were in plain view. Here s hoping other bike brands might be inspired to share more too.


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Another industrial-scale merger with a Chinese company at the helm was confirmed this week; this time between Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli and China s Marco Polo Industrial Holding.

In terms of brand equity, Pirelli is one of the largest and best-known Italian brands in the world, as noted in Cycling iQ s recent Italian in Style, Made in Taiwan feature article in Cycle Sport.

What does this have to do with the bicycle industry? Pirelli started out as a bicycle tyre and wheel manufacturer in the late 19th century before focusing on the emerging motorised transportation sector. However, it returned to bicycles in the 1980 s when it purchased and produced the Cl ment brand for over a decade. Production for Cl ment is currently licensed to Donnelly Sports.


Bicycle Industries Australia Ltd (BIA) is the representative organisation of the Australian bicycle industry s wholesale and retail sector becoming more involved in the latter following the dissolution of the Retail Cycle Traders Association.BIA will be holding an industry summit next month in Canberra to discuss the future of the Australian bicycle industry (or at least the next five years) and advocacy, including how to effectively lobby members of Government.

The Australian bicycle market remains a prime target of online retailers and it will be interesting to learn whether this forms a substantive part of discussions on 16 March. Cycling iQ will contact BIA after the summit to learn more.


Another summit, but with a wider reach, Velo-city 2016 is an industry think-tank/conference that is being held ahead of the annual Taipei Cycle show.

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Based on previous experiences of similar events, the four-day program will have its fair share of dryly-delivery plenary sessions but The Role of the Cycling Industry session on 29 February looks promising. Among the speakers are Giant CEO and Taiwan Bicycle Association Chairman Anthony Lo (amongst many other industry titles), Trek s John Bourke and Robbert de Kock from the World Federation of Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI).

The WFSGI will also be holding a public event at Taipei Cycle to present highlights from the previous year, including a progress report on its work with the UCI and IOC. This session will be held on Thursday 03 March from 14:30-16:00 in room 401 of the Nangang Exhibition Hall.


Regular readers will likely already be aware of industry news sites such as Bicycle Retailer (US), Bike Europe (Netherlands), BikeBiz (UK) and perhaps even Bicycling Trade (Australia).

Cycle Trade (UK) is the most recent platform to launch in this space. It s a property of Kent-based Miles Publishing Ltd, a privately owned company with two strategic business units: Swink Media and Swink Events. Cycle Trade sits under Swink Media which also covers Golf and IT/Commerce. It s a welcome sight to see another voice being added to the industry news space and we wish Cycle Trade all the best.


Two days after BikeBiz first broke the news about a possible merger between two of the UK s largest cycling etailers, it was officially confirmed by both companies. CyclingTips asked Cycling iQ for an assessment of the merger and what it might mean.

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Recent years have seen mixed fortunes for both CRC and Wiggle. CRC s revenues peaked at 155.5 million (AU$310 million) in 2012, fell in 2013 and rebounded to 153.3 (AU$306 million) in FY2014 (01.01 31.12.2014). Its gross profit margins, however, remained above 32% at no time in the company s history have they been below this.

Wiggle s revenues passed CRC s in FY2014/15 (02.02.2014 01.02.2015) with an all-time record of 179.2 million (AU$360 million), despite a strengthening British Pound eroding foreign earnings on currency translation. Gross profit margin meanwhile fell to 22%; the lowest recording of this important performance indicator.

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