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E-bikes power Accell Group past 1B euro mark; while bankruptcies short circuit North America sales

Published March 10, 2017

HEERENVEEN, Netherlands (BRAIN) — On the strength of e-bike sales in Europe — especially in Germany — Accell Group's sales last year were up 6 percent, breaking the one billion-euro barrier for the first time in company history. Turnover totaled 1.05 billion euros ($1.118 billion) for the Dutch-based conglomerate, which owns the Raleigh, Diamondback, Haibike, Izip, Ghost and Lapierre brands, among others.

In North America, Accell's sales were off 14 percent, dropping from 138 million euros in 2015 to 119 million euros last year, partly due to Accell's exit from the parts & accessories business in North America when it sold SBS to Hawley. Adjusted for the P&A exit, Accell North America sales were off 6 percent. The company said the bankruptcies of Sports Authority and Sports Chalet last year contributed to much of the loss, and said it is aggressively moving to omni-channel distribution in reaction to a shift in consumer buying habits.

In an annual report press release Friday, Accell Group said sales of sports bikes and e-bikes grew in North America in 2016, but not fast enough to compensate for bankruptcies.

"We see these bankruptcies as confirmation of changes in how consumers are choosing to shop," Accell Group CEO René Takens said in the statement. "This change in behavior played a key role in our decision to refine our strategy, in which we are focusing firmly on consumers. We will use an omni-channel approach to market our products and services in a way that forms the best possible fit with the purchasing preferences of individual consumers."  Takens announced last month that he planned to step down as CEO on April 25. 

Takens said e-bike sales was a "main driver" in Accell's growth. The group's e-bike sales grew 33 percent last year and now represent 41 percent of its sales. Higher priced "e-performance" bikes in particular contributed to the sales growth; that category grew 70 percent last year. While the German market is Accell's strongest, Takens showed some optimism about e-bike sales in North America. 

"We are also seeing an increase in turnover from e-bikes in North America. There too we are market leader with our brands, including Haibike, in what is still a limited market with a large number of suppliers," Takens said.

However, he noted that "The position of the Raleigh brand among specialist retailers in North America continued to decline in 2016, and we have therefore decided to distribute the brand via multiple channels. "

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