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CONEBI merger unites European industry at difficult juncture

Published March 18, 2015
Rise of dollar against euro leaves little doubt that prices will have to be raised.

TAIPEI, Taiwan (BRAIN) — Despite the uncertainty over how the high-priced dollar will impact sales in Europe, the merger of COLIBI and COLIPED, two longtime European trade associations, unites European bicycle manufacturers and component makers for the first time.

René Takens, chairman of the Accell Group and now president of the combined organization, newly dubbed CONEBI, said the merger unites all of the various bicycle associations throughout Europe. 

Prior to Takens' remarks at a press conference at the CONEBI booth, the topic of conversation among a variety of European manufacturers centered on the dramatic rise of the dollar against the euro — a more than 25 percent loss in the euro’s buying power in recent months.

While there is uncertainty as to how bicycles and accessories will be priced in the European market and elsewhere because of the currency changes, there’s little doubt, several executives said, that prices must go up. “There is not enough margin in the industry for it to do otherwise,” one executive said.

Several, when asked if there would be a move to down-spec bicycles to maintain given price points, said it will happen, but that there is too little room within current pricing structures to make up a 25 percent decline in purchasing power. Prices will still need to go up.

The merger of two of Europe’s oldest and most influential trade associations is a reflection of the power structure now centered in Brussels, the headquarters for the European Union. Europe’s bicycle industry accounts for more than 60,000 employees and needs a unified voice when talking to politicians on a variety of issues.

CONEBI will also increase its presence beyond Europe, particularly in Asia, Takens said. 

Erhard Büchel, the CEO of Büchel, a family-owned component maker with five factories in Europe and three joint ventures overseas, said most such companies are small and medium sized. He pointed out that they “are very innovative” and understand the diverse rules and regulations imposed on the industry by the EU. 

“Under CONEBI’s roof, both groups have a much stronger position together as when they were separate organizations,” he said. Part of CONEBI’s role is to improve the conditions for parts makers in Europe and to increase the variety of parts and accessories that are available, Blücher said.

 

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