...but December figures show sharp year-on-year decline as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs investigates certain sources

2010 sees bicycle imports jump by almost 25%

Eight hundred thousand more bikes landed on UK shores in 2010 when compared with the prior year. The UK imported a total of 3,911,028 bikes, representing a 23.84 per cent jump on 2009’s 3,158,095.

There were signs of a coming dip in imports from sources such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Philippines and Bangladesh, with December totals from all of these dipping between 31.13 and 53.77 per cent, respectively. Britain’s largest supplier, Taiwan, grew its exports to the UK by 15.14 per cent, delivering 89,688 bicycles in December 2010.

The drops from those far-east countries may be down to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs taking a hard line approach to tackling duty dodgers, many of whom declare complete bicycles as components to avoid charges of up to 48.5 per cent, (China to Europe) or 34.5 per cent (Vietnam to Europe).

Having seen the figures, Cycling Sports Group UK co-director Russell Merry told BikeBiz: "I’ve not seen figures like these before, it’s unprecedented. The recession caused many to place cautious orders that didn’t meet demand. For 2010 it appears firms have over-corrected in a way, though sell through remains incredibly strong. A significant change over the past years has been the squeeze on a distributors margin due to currency shifts and the VAT increase. Wholesalers have taken a hit and now work harder to achieve the same revenue."

There are some startling figures among the statistics – a claimed 109,815 pairs of ‘bicycle forks’ came in from Taiwan and 87,121 from China during 2010. If in fact true, that means that China has recorded a 1,383 per cent rise in imports of bicycle forks in just one year. Industry critics are sceptical of such statistics.

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