MILAN, Italy (BRAIN)—EICMA got its start amidst pouring rain yesterday. That, as well as restricted entrance to trade visitors and media, contributed to light foot traffic on the first day. However, many exhibitors expect attendance to pick up tomorrow, when the show opens to the general public.
Though thousands of miles from the United States, many Italian companies and distributors are keeping close tabs of the U.S. elections. Some said a change in office might help stimulate the U.S. and global economy, in turn helping grow bike sales. Aside from the political chatter, one thing that was plainly evident is that the show is no longer solely focused on high-end Italian road bikes.
As larger international brands have dropped out due to the show's timing, smaller national brands have taken up bigger booths to showcase utilitarian bikes including electrics, Dutch-style commuter bikes and folders, as well as mountain bikes and kids' bikes. Touring companies, regional bike associations and nonprofits have also taken up a larger footprint.
OGA Srl, Italian distributor of Dahon folders, is at the show to grow brand awareness among consumers, said Luigi Barbavara, OGA's owner. He began distributing the brand in 2005, and has grown from selling 50 then to around 1,200 bikes per year now through 40 dealers. He exhibited for the first time in 2006, but skipped last year's show.
"Our goal is to have committed dealers that carry the whole range," he said. Italy is Dahon's fifth biggest market in Europe, behind the Netherlands, Germany, UK and Spain.
Abici Italia, Cicli Cinzia, MBM, Montante, Wayel and Viva, among others, showcased Dutch retro-styled urban bikes equipped with baskets, racks and even batteries.
Show organizers said some 300 brands are represented at one of two halls making up the bike expo. The other hall houses the velodrome and a 1,000-meter indoor mountain bike course--a new addition this year--to host races and performances.
The mountain bike category was more prominent as well, though the emphasis for the Italian market is on cross-country racing more than downhill or all-mountain segments. One new exhibitor in this category was GT, which Cannondale Sports Group is distributing direct into Italy from its Netherlands facility as of Sept. 1.
Steve Berti, country manager for Italy, Spain and Portugal, said the brand's at the show to let consumers know GT is back. GT had a strong market presence there during the 1990s, he said, but hasn't been distributed since then.