At the IFMA press review Rolf Lemberg of the newly formed ZIV of Germany (the Two-Wheeler Industry Association created from the merging of VFM and FTV) discussed market growth, harmonisation of standards, and the liklihood of price increases

The state of the European bicycle market

After a positive business trend for the bicycle market in Germany in 1998 and 1999, the first months of 2000 saw a continuation of this trend. As far as inland supply up to and including March 2000 was concerned, an increase of almost 10% was registered compared to the same period of the previous year, which on this scale however, does not reflect the actual sales to end-consumers.

The relatively moderate stock levels at the various levels of the trade up to the end of 1999 led to stocking up in the first months of 2000 in order to be able to cope with demand in the key sales months.

Irrespective of this, sales to end-consumers in the first months of 2000 can also be described as extremely positive.

The import sector contributed more to this development in the first months of the year than the production sector.

In this period, production increased by 1.5% to 960,000 units, while imports rose to 615,000 units, representing an increase of almost 18%.

A decisive factor here was the shift in the import figures from Taiwan in recent years, which must be assessed in connection with the anti-dumping process initiated in 1998.

Exports were also at a low level at the beginning of the year 2000 and only reached 40,000 units.

The main import country in the first quarter of 2000 was Taiwan with 130,000 imported units, followed by Poland with 100,000 and the Netherlands with 85,000 units.

The main export country was Austria with about 10,000 units sold.

In 2000, the price trend is problematic. Especially in those areas where the currency parities of the Yen and Dollar to the Euro were of significance and still are, the weak Euro has led to an increase in prices in the area of material procurement, which ultimately, should, and will, also be reflected in the end-consumer prices.

This situation can be exploited particularly by the European parts industry, in order to once again increase its market share in Europe, whereby it must also be taken into account, that due to increased materials prices, the European industry has not remained unscathed by price increases either.

In general, in the coming months, the end-consumers should get used to the fact that further price increases are necessary.

The entire parts sector has developed in line with the positive trend in the bicycle sector.

In this connection, it is encouraging, that in addition to the increase in imports associated with it, exports of bicycle parts have also registered considerable growth compared to the same period of the previous year.

It is still evident that the trend towards comfortable bicycles is continuing and that especially components such as suspension, braking and lighting systems of a high technical standard are in demand.

The breakdown of sales between the individual distribution channels has also been assessed as stable in the first months of the year 2000, i.e. the specialist trade with a share of over 50%, accounts for the largest sector of the market.

IFMA Cologne 2000 is no doubt an important date for all market participants, because the fair determines how the sector will start 2001.

Up to September, the trend for the whole of 2000 can be effectively assessed and this assessment will also form the basis for expectations for 2001.

No other event, especially on the suppliers side, has a similar significance to that of IFMA Cologne, because this fair provides the basis for planning for the following year.

This event shows whether the new products are accepted by the various marketing channels, and on what scale the distributors are planning to buy for the coming season.

The Two-Wheeler Industry Association is certain that the business trend in 2000 will provide a good basis for a successful IFMA 2000, and that the exhibitors will see this confirmed through good business at this fair.

Just let me make a few remarks on what is happening in Europe.

The year 1999 produced not only a positive result for the domestic market, but other European countries also registered growth in the bicycle segment. A remarkable aspect here is the increase in domestic supply in France to almost 3,000,000 units. In terms of sales, this puts France at No. 2 in Europe behind Germany and ahead of Great Britain.

Among the producing countries, Italy is still No. 2 – behind Germany – in Europe with a unit volume of approx. 3 m. bicycles.

The cooperation between the leading European bicycle associations at European level, Colibi and Coliped, is becoming increasingly significant.

In this connection, in order to also create a European Single Market in the bicycle and bicycle parts sector, the European standards harmonization process begun in 1999 must be given special mention.

With uniform, technical provisions throughout Europe, which apply to the bicycle as a whole and to its individual components, the manufacturers and suppliers of such products can service the entire market in a much more efficient way.

We assume that after the completion of these important technical regulations, the German suppliers will make more intensive use of their opportunities in the Single European Market.

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