TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) — It came at the end of Tony Lo’s speech at the opening ceremony for the Taipei Cycle Show. The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), he said, is exploring a major shakeup in the international trade show calendar—moving Taipei Cycle to July.
Lo’s seemingly offhand comment easily could have been missed as he ended a speech on Taiwan’s future as a global leader in manufacturing and innovation. But as president of Giant, the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer, and as chairman of the Taiwan Bicycle Exporters’ Association (TBEA), when Lo speaks most people listen—closely.
Still, his comment that TAITRA, the show’s organizer, was considering such a move caught listeners and others on the trade show floor by surprise. And some questioned whether his comment was more a trial balloon to gauge reaction to a potential shift.
But in an interview with Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, Lo said such a change, if taken, would have to wait until 2015 at the earliest. “It would be too soon for next year,” he said.
Still, Stan Day, SRAM’s president and CEO, when asked what a July date for Taipei Cycle would mean for his company, replied that it was the first he had heard of it—and SRAM is a major manufacturer in Taiwan. Day at first thought such a shift didn’t make much sense, but then he paused and said he would need to think about it.
When asked about a July date, a Taiwan distributor with offices in China said, “That’s crazy. I don’t see how that could work.”
On the other hand, a smaller Taiwan manufacturer reacted differently. “I need to think about it. It could be OK. I just don’t know,” he said.
Stefan Reisinger, Eurobike’s show director, and Pat Hus, Interbike’s show director, said Lo’s comment was a surprise to them. But they immediately began to calculate the potential impact of such a date change on their own shows.
Reisinger put it simply: “It’s difficult to consider at the moment.” Eurobike is considered the first major show on the calendar with its late-August date, and it has become a mecca for international visitors, particularly from Asia and South America. Eurobike also backs an October show in Nanjing, China.
Interbike follows in late September in Las Vegas, but is primarily a dealer show. “I don’t think it would have much of an impact on us,” said Hus, who met with officials from TAITRA at a luncheon Wednesday.
Nonetheless, growth in North America and Europe is generally flat, although Europe’s e-bike market continues to gain.
So why the move to July?
For years the show has been held in March, Lo said, but as Asian economies have become more affluent, demand for higher-quality bicycles and components is growing fast. “Asia is now becoming a very important market to develop,” he said.
Ask any supplier at this show where they see growth, and all reply Asia. Consumers in China, Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian nations are demanding better products whether its bikes, cars or cellphones. Lo used the word “evolving” to describe the burgeoning economies throughout the region.
Lo noted that major suppliers like Specialized, Trek and Giant are already showcasing new product lines at a variety of July dealer events in the U.S. And last year Trek left Eurobike to host its own event at a separate venue well before Eurobike opened its doors.
“Eurobike and Interbike both have their purposes,” Lo said, in terms of reaching dealers in their respective markets. But, he added, Asian markets may now need their own show.
Every country in Asia has some sort of a trade show, Lo said. But Taiwan, a major supplier throughout Asia, is relatively easy to reach by air, and air travel is rapidly expanding across Asia.
By centralizing a major trade show in Taiwan, he said, manufacturers could significantly reduce costs. “Such a change could mean a lot for the global market,” he said.