TAICHUNG, Taiwan (BRAIN)—Taiwan’s bicycle industry—some 7,000 miles from Interbike’s offices in Southern California—is still buzzing over the trade show’s decision to move its annual show to early August in Anaheim. And it’s an angry buzz.
Stella Yu, founder and president of Velo, described Interbike’s decision as something she would expect from government. “It’s like the government. They never stop to ask you what you think, they just tell you what to do,” she said, angrily shaking her head over the proposed date and venue change.
While Velo will attend Interbike, Yu said, she worries that the expense won’t be worth the effort. Yu, and other executives in Taiwan, have heard from their distributors and sales agents that North American retailers are unhappy with the change and that attendance could be weak.
Several Taiwanese executives said they are “puzzled” by the decision and immediately offer a variety of theories ranging from a major effort by Interbike to “take over” Eurobike to some sort of backroom deal involving Trek and Giant. Presumably the two companies would return to Interbike, anchoring renewed growth in the show.
Despite the speculation, though, the early dates pose difficulties for accessory and parts suppliers. Jennifer Chen, an executive with Wellgo, said if the dates remain in early August the company may send fewer staff, perhaps have a smaller booth, and would have only 2011 product available for retailers to view. “We would still introduce our new products at Eurobike,” she said.
For the Taiwanese, Eurobike remains their biggest show. Approximately 80 percent of all sales of Taiwan-made products are made in Europe, according to data compiled by TAITRA, the country’s major trade association. While the U.S. market remains an important target, manufacturers say Europe is key to future growth.
In fact, some Taiwanese suppliers were leaving this week for Bike Brno, a major trade show held in the Czech Republic. While Eastern European countries are struggling with recession-wracked economies, the Taiwanese view the region as a center for future growth.
The Taiwanese are also bolstering their own trade show, Taipei Cycle. This week TAITRA is hosting 14 editors from most major markets. Besides Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, there are editors from Brazil, Japan, Indonesia, Sweden, Poland, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, Switzerland and other countries touring factories in Taichung.
TAITRA’s Andrea Wu said this is the first time the agency has brought over so many editors from such a wide range of countries. The four-day trip will give editors, several of whom have never visited factories in Taiwan, an opportunity to see the industry and learn more about the issues companies face, she said.