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UK’s Brompton Sets Up American Subsidiary

Published August 11, 2009

PORTLAND, OR (BRAIN)—UK folding bike manufacturer Brompton Bicycle has established a subsidiary in the United States led by industry veteran Ed Rae. He will work from his home office in Portland, Oregon.

Rae (pictured) has been in the industry for more than 30 years having worked for the likes of Trek, Giant and Schwinn. He had been working outside the industry for the last couple of years.

“People are thirsting for this type of unique product,” Rae said of Brompton’s folding bikes.

Brompton hasn’t had an American distributor for several years. However, the company has been selling direct to U.S. dealers—as it does in the UK—for several years.

“Brompton’s primary responsibility will be training and service support [in the U.S. market], offering same time zone advice and assistance to Brompton dealers, which we cannot offer from London,” said Emerson Roberts, marketing manager for Brompton. “But we also know that it has a confidence-boosting effect, and expect the subsidiary to extend our network of dealers to currently-neglected districts. We have had so many conversations over the years with American dealers who loved our brand and our products yet ultimately could not bring themselves to stock them because they felt cast adrift without in-country support, even though we actually place very few demands on dealers in the sense that we only ask they stock two bikes, plus a demo model.”

Rae said dealers have already responded, and that Brompton is thriving in North American cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Toronto, Vancouver and Portland.

Roberts said that sales have been growing annually in the U.S. over the last five years at 45 percent. “I’d like to double sales in the next 18 months, which will require more or less doubling our dealer network,” Roberts said.

Roberts feels this is attainable with the U.S. becoming an emerging market for all kinds of utility bikes.

“I see plenty of opportunities in U.S. cities just as there were in the UK five to 10 years ago when things started to take off,” Roberts said. “U.S. cities tend to be even more car-oriented than UK cities, so perhaps the challenges will be even greater than they were here, but cycling as a daily mode of transport will only grow as rising fuel/transport costs, health concerns and congestion continue to rise.”

—Jason Norman

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