No. 1 bike maker Giant eyes global expansion

BANGKOK/TAICHUNG — Taiwan’s Giant Manufacturing, the world’s largest bicycle maker, is looking to expand in Japan and Southeast Asia, hoping to secure future growth amid the slowdown in China, its CEO said.

“Beginning last year, this year, and next year, the China market will be down,” said Tony Lo, CEO of Giant, in an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review in Thailand, adding that he does not expect the Chinese market to bottom out until next year.

Giant encountered headwinds in China and reported a 41.7% drop in net income of $707.6 million New Taiwan dollars ($22.18 million) for the three months ending in September, announced on Nov. 11. The company’s revenue declined 11.4% to NT$15.15 billion for the same period. For the first nine months for 2016, the bicycle titan tumbled in both top and bottom lines, and is likely to suffer its first sales slide year-on-year for a full year since 2009.

As China posted the slowest growth in a quarter of a century, Lo said his company is searching for new opportunities, especially in Japan, where most people ride for transportation but cycling for sports and fitness is less well developed. The same is true for other economies, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia.

In Japan, where Lo sees the most potential, he pledged to increase Giant’s brick-and-mortar stores from only 25 currently to at least 200 in three to five years.

“We see very rapid growth in Southeast Asia although the revenue contribution is still low,” said Lo. “It took us 30 years to develop the culture of cycling in Taiwan, and in China, it took us 20 years. I think it will take us around 10 years for Southeast Asia to pick up this cycling trend.”