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Brands Eye Chinese Domestic Market

Published May 4, 2011

SHANGHAI, China (BRAIN)—Many international brands are attending the China Cycle Show to access distribution opportunities and increase brand awareness in this promising consumer market.

“It is not a big domestic market yet, but we don’t want to wait until it becomes one,” said Al Nordin, president of Fallbrook Technologies bicycle products division, which is exhibiting for the second year at the show, which opened Wednesday at the Shanghai New International Expo Center.

Nordin said Fallbrook is at the show to speak to assemblers and manufacturers, while also working on domestic distribution of its NuVinci continuously variable planetary hub kits.

Nordin, who first visited China in 1992, thinks the Chinese market is still two to three years away from becoming a market for higher-end products. But, he added, four years ago you would never see a $4,000 bike in China and you do now.

Nordin sees an opportunity to sell higher-end utility bikes, in particular. “I see this as a transportation market, and we have a transportation product,” he said.

Ulco Middendorp, sales manager for Shimano Europe, agreed the Chinese domestic market has big potential. “This is a big, growing market because of the whole rising middle class in China,” said Ulco, who spent three-and-a-half years living in Shanghai working on Shimano’s export business.

Middendorp said cycling for recreation is new for China, but cycling is the fastest growing leisure activity among Chinese behind hiking and skiing. And he said Chinese manufacturers who have long produced entry-level mountain bikes with rear derailleurs for the U.S. market are selling similar bikes in the domestic market.

Asahi Bike, a Taiwan assembly factory, was walking the show to meet with existing and prospective Chinese frame suppliers. But it too was there to access the possibility of domestic market sales of its house brand, Progressive.

Charles Kang, general manager of Asahi, said a reduction in import duties will allow it to consider exporting bikes from Taiwan to mainland China. Under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and China this year duties for bicycle imports from Taiwan were cut in half, and within two years duties for Taiwan-made bikes will be reduced to zero.

The 21st edition of the China International Bicycle & Motor Fair (China Cycle) covers 110,000 square meters (1,184,000 square feet) of total exhibition space with 1,200 exhibitors. Besides mainland China, exhibitors came from 18 countries and regions such as Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, India, Spain, Portugal, Pakistan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

(PHOTO: Officials unveil an hourglass to countdown the opening to China Cycle 2011).

—Megan Tompkins

Topics associated with this article: Tradeshows and conferences

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