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MEC Forecast Modest for Bikes' First Year

Published November 9, 2009

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (BRAIN)—Canada’s Mountain Equipment Co-op expects to move about 5,000 mid-level road, mountain and urban bikes in the first year selling its new bike line, according to Tim McDermott, bike product manager for MEC.

MEC launched 11 bike models last week in five of the outdoor retailer’s stores. MEC outsourced production of the bikes to several higher end factories in Taiwan, said McDermott who joined MEC about a year ago to head up the expansion into complete bikes.

MEC will also expand its aftermarket components next year including bars, grips, stems and seatposts, McDermott said.

For decades, MEC has sold cycling clothing and accessories, and expanded into service about two years ago, followed by the recent introduction of complete bikes. The plan is to eventually sell bikes in all 13 Canadian locations as the stores are renovated to make room for bike service and sales, McDermott said.

The coop doesn’t have any immediate plans to sell other brands, a model adopted by REI, which markets a house brand of bike along with selling about a dozen brands like GT, Cannondale, Scott and Electra.

“I think we’re a long way from that and at this point we’re concentrating on our own brand and our own offering,” McDermott said.

MEC’s move into the bike business—first announced about two years ago—has intensified tensions between the outdoor retailer and some of the country’s independent bicycle dealers, who accuse MEC of unfair competition because of a tax advantage due to its coop status.

McDermott, who’s been in the industry for 25 years working and has worked for IBD brands like Rocky Mountain, said he understands both sides, but in the end the consumer is king.

“The consumer just wants a good product and a good warranty. Whether that’s at their local MEC store or their local IBD store, that’s their choice,” he said.

With its urban focused line, MEC hopes to grow the cycling market in Canadian to the benefit of all bicycle retailers, McDermott said.

—Nicole Formosa

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