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Merckx boosted by cash from brewery

Published December 20, 2011

ZELLIK, Belgium (BRAIN)—Eddy Merckx Holding has raised 7.4 million euros ($9.6 million) in capital through a new partnership with Diepensteyn, the parent company of Belgium’s Palm Breweries.

Existing majority owner Sobradis converted an existing loan into capital while Diepensteyn acquired a 20 percent share in the company.

The capital is necessary to finance new projects and associated marketing efforts and further internationalization of the brand, according to a post penned by Eddy Merckx on the brand’s website. The first new projects include the new UMX urban bike and a sneaker collection launched earlier this month in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Diepensteyn brings a fourth owner to Eddy Merckx Holding, which reported turnover of approximately 5.9 million euros in 2009. Sobradis acquired a majority stake from Merckx in 2008 and retains 67 percent ownership. After Diepensteyn, the remaining 13 percent is held by Kurt Moons, CEO of Eddy Merckx Cycles, and Eddy Merckx himself.

Jan Toye, Diepensteyn controller, said his primary interest in the bike brand was the authenticity and emotions on which the brand is built, similar to the group’s beer brands like Palm, Steen Brugge and Rodenbach. Toye also cited the brand’s potential for growth with a focus on healthy and green living in mature and emerging markets, as well as the personal involvement of Eddy Merckx in the development of new bikes and as the face of the brand.

Eddy Merckx Cycles sold 10,000 units last year, with some aluminum frames produced at Merckx’s factory near Brussels and all carbon fiber bikes made in Asia. Moon hopes to double that within the next four years through growth in international markets, according to a story in Flemish business magazine Trends.be. The Benelux region still accounts for 60 percent of annual sales, but Moon expects that to drop to 25 to 30 percent in the near future.

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