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Combined Ridley/Merckx brands launch dual strategy for US market

Published September 20, 2017
Heather Rizzi, previously U.S. sales manager for Eddy Merckx, is now representing Merckx and Ridley.

LAS VEGAS (BRAIN) — The two Belgian brands Ridley and Eddy Merckx are making their first combined appearance here at Interbike, as the brands unveil their dual strategy.

Ridley's parent company, then known as Race Productions, took over the Merckx brand in June. The company has since been renamed Belgian Cycling Factory NV.

The Merckx U.S. office and warehouse in Mount Kisco, New York, has been closed, and Ridley will soon stop working with West Coast-based Podium Marketing, which has handled U.S. sales, customer service and distribution for several years.

In the U.S., both brands are being represented by a small East Coast office led by Heather Rizzi, who was the U.S. sales manager for Merckx prior to the sale. Rizzi and Phil Capezio, who was U.S. operations manager for Merckx under the previous ownership, are working on a contract basis for Belgian Cycling Factory, which plans to set up a U.S. subsidiary, warehouse and office soon.

Until the brands open a U.S. warehouse, bikes are being air shipped to U.S. dealers from Belgium for a $50 freight charge.

The company is now offering dealers access to both brands, with minimal buy-in requirements.

The Merckx line has been trimmed to five road models: the high-end 525; the carbon San Remo; the Strasbourg carbon gravel bike; the Heritage steel bike; and a carbon gran fondo bike, the Sallanches. The 525, San Remo and Sallanches are available with either rim or disc brakes. To avoid overlap with Ridley, Merckx is no longer offering aluminum, women's-specific, endurance road, triathlon or cyclocross models.

Ridley offers an array of road, cyclocross and adventure models, as well as its recently launched mountain bike line, which includes a carbon hardtail, a full-suspension model and an e-MTB.

"We're thrilled to be able to offer dealers the option of having both brands," Rizzi told BRAIN at Interbike this week. She said Ridley has more dealers in the West, while Merckx is stronger in the East, so the union offers growth potential for both.

Both brands offers custom paint and decal colors, as well as component configurations. The #myEddyMerckx custom program is a $200 upcharge, while Ridley offers several levels of customization at varying prices. In both cases, the custom bikes are finished and assembled in Belgium and available in about a week and a half.

Edward Vlutters, Belgian Cycling Factory's global sales director, said the two brands are committed to growing their U.S. presence. Vlutters said that in the long run globally Ridley will continue to offer a broad range of bikes, from $500 to $10,000, while the Merckx brand will be focused on the upper end of the market with bikes at $2,500 to $15,000.

"If you go to a race in Belgium, you will see Ridley and Merckx making up 80 percent of the market sometimes, so I feel there is a lot of potential growth for the brands in other markets," he told BRAIN on Wednesday.

"It's important in today's market to offer a brand with a story, with something different than just another carbon frame, and both these brands have a story to tell," he added.

The brands are at Booth 17247.

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