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Focus Bicycles Forms U.S. Subsidiary

Published April 27, 2009

CARLSBAD, CA (BRAIN)—Germany’s Derby Cycle Werke is forming a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary to bring Focus bicycles to the United States for the first time.

Focus has hired Scott Rittschof (pictured) to set up the U.S. office and lead the venture into the U.S. market. Rittschof, who once headed up international operations for PowerBar, owned two-store retail chain B+L Bike in San Diego until last year.

Rittschof said Focus offers renowned German engineering and efficiency at competitive prices. Focus controls pricing by outsourcing frame production to Eastern Europe and Asia and assembling bikes in-house at its facility in Cloppenburg, Germany.

“We’re trying to deliver race-inspired bikes with German engineering and quality, but with the value that comes with German frugality,” Rittschof said.

Cyclocross world champion and 10-time German national champion Mike Kluge founded the Focus brand in the early 90s and later sold it to Derby Cycle Werke.

Focus Bicycles USA will bring in Focus road and time-trial bikes ridden by Team Milram for June delivery to retailers. Rittschof expects the new Izalco Chrono time-trial and triathlon models, the first production bikes designed by Swiss engineer Andreas Walser, to be especially popular.

It also will import hardtail carbon fiber and aluminum mountain bikes. It won’t initially offer a full-suspension bike because its current European models infringe on the Horst Link patent owned by Specialized in the U.S.

Focus Bicycles USA will set up an office in Carlsbad, California, to handle sales, marketing, customer service and warranties. Distribution will be handled out of a separate fulfillment center in a location to be determined.

While the timing of its investment in a new subsidiary seems surprising given the weak global economy, Rittschof said the company is preparing now for an economic rebound. “They’re looking at the long-term. We feel confident this downturn isn’t going to last forever,” he said.

And Rittschof said he’s taking advantage of some opportunities in this market. He said real estate is quite affordable, qualified people are out there and available, and third-party vendors for insurance, phone and distribution are willing to negotiate. “What I’m finding is it’s actually an excellent time to set up a company,” he said.

—Megan Tompkins

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