Cycles Lapierre are 75 years old. What does this mean to you?
“This is not an end. In my opinion, this is an important step, a pivotal step in allowing the Lapierre brand to go even further. We are in a period where demand has been very strongly accelerated and affects the entire bicycle industry, and at the same time there is the arrival of new products that will be unveiled during the year 2021. I spent more than 20 years in another brand (Mavic) and I measure everything that has been done here, the contribution in terms of innovation in particular of Gilles (Lapierre) and his teams on the ranges during these last 15-20 years where the development of the brand has been accelerated, brand which is known worldwide. “
How to face this exponential demand?
” The best possible ! The entire bicycle industry has to digest this high demand and the strain on various links in the supply chain. How? ‘Or’ What ? By developing our offers a little more quickly, by trying to be faster in certain “ processes ” to save time and put as many bikes as possible on the market, even if we know that probably over the next two years we will not will not – all the brands – catch up with demand. Things will continue to be tense, for example because the health crisis continues to impact global transport and countries where certain components are manufactured. Since the start of the year, we have put on the market more Lapierre bikes than last year at the same time, before the first confinement despite all these tensions, even if we do not catch up with the very strong demand. “
How do you explain this boom in cycling?
“It is the consequence of several factors: the boom of the electric bicycle which puts more consumers on the bicycle. It arrived in the collective consciousness in 2020, with the price of an electric bicycle, its use… The electric vehicles that are developing have also helped this awareness. Another factor: the government and municipal bicycle plans, although cycling is not always easy in the city. With the health crisis, people have also felt the need to avoid public transport, to move around in the fresh air independently while doing sports at the same time. “
What is Cycles Lapierre’s strategy in this context?
“Continue to innovate, not only on the products but also on the accessibility of the brand for consumers. The store that we have just opened in Besançon, with a partner, is the perfect symbol. We already had a reseller but having a 100% Lapierre store, almost all the models are present, the price levels … We have had a new website, for a few weeks, to modernize the consumer’s journey so that he can discover our products more easily. It is a real strategy that complements innovation and the product offer. Our innovation schedule is really solid over the next three years. To respond to this situation of strong demand, choices have been made by accelerating innovations that we consider to be more important and by also renewing other offers. “
Will this Besançon store call for others?
“It’s a model that we will duplicate elsewhere in France. We have ideas for cities or partners. The brand is very well distributed and distributed in France with many resellers, the territorial network is very strong, but we need these stores, in certain epicentres, to take the brand to a higher level, make it more visible, more accessible to find other consumers. We are going to rely on partners we know, with whom we have been working for years, and suggest that they take it to another stage. “
What are the new things to come?
“We obviously cannot reveal them, but we can say that we will have novelties in almost all segments (road, mountain biking, urban), real new products, complete bikes, throughout the year. On the road, it will coincide with the main professional events that are coming up, we will take advantage of the great Tours to gradually unveil a new bike. The other segments will follow during the summer, particularly urban in September. “
Les Cycles Lapierre were bought by Accell Group in 1996. What has that changed?
“Since the Lapierre family decided to sell Cycles Lapierre shares to the Accell group, we can now see the results and the profits. The Lapierre brand remains independent, the engineers and product managers who develop the brand are still based in Dijon, all marketing and decisions concerning the brand are done here. The same approach applies to the other brands in the Accell group: each brand keeps its DNA and its teams. Then, the group really contributed in terms of production, on all support functions (IT, commercial systems, logistics, etc.). This is the strength of a group which does not manufacture only for a single brand, and which represents in Europe 1 million bicycles manufactured on average over a year. “
And therefore part of the production in Dijon …
“It’s something important to stay anchored in Dijon for a lot of reasons. The brand has existed since 1946 in Dijon and this local anchoring is part of the brand’s DNA and it is claimed. We also have real know-how in terms of bicycle assembly, some are only assembled in this factory, and we want in the coming months to qualify the production of Dijon as a real pilot production for the group on some innovations. That is to say, to qualify certain models in Dijon before they are also manufactured in other factories of the group. Lapierre’s production is over 100,000 bicycles (per year). On average, 25% of production is carried out in Dijon, the rest is done in factories in Europe (Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Turkey) with very short circuits. This is also the strength of the group, which allows us to react quickly. There are between 120 and 150 pieces to compose a bike, it’s a real puzzle and depending on the technology, the model and the price level, we can be on a very fast assembly and in chain for entry bikes of range, but of quality. But some bikes require more assembly time, greater than an hour, and are assembled in factories of the group where the know-how is different. In Dijon, it all depends on the model, but you can ride up to 150 bikes per day. It is a French brand that we claim, with more than 100 employees in France. “
How are the sales going?
“Despite the store’s closure during the first confinement there is one, the progression of the Experience Center (at the Toison d’Or) is more than 20% in 2020. At the start of the year, it is even good superior. As the administrator of Union Sport & Cycle, I can say that this is a progression experienced by all stores in France. And if we compare consumer demand to other countries in Europe, it is higher. We could consider that France was behind, just like Italy and Spain, compared to the Netherlands, Switzerland or Germany in terms of urban home / work travel in particular. “
So this is good news for you …
“This is even excellent news. We also think every day of other activities that are more suffering from the current crisis, and we say to ourselves that we are lucky. Despite everything, I resonate as a business leader and you have to be careful about managing growth. Yes, our situation is very good, but we have to prepare the brand for the next 3-5 years, size the right skills for the future, recruit associates and plan the development of the brand and the company to make this happen. persistent. “
“In 2-3 years, we will have real electric bikes for the road”
What impact has the emergence of the electric bicycle had?
“The Accell group has been the European leader in electric bicycles for years. At Lapierre, Gilles (Lapierre) had a good vision, in particular that mountain biking was going to undergo a real evolution with the arrival of the electric bicycle. Anyone who spends their holidays in the mountains can notice it: 20 years ago we mostly saw men mountain biking and suffering, now in any resort we see the whole family on the bike, and on bikes. 24-inch electrics suitable for children and often found in rental parks. The Lapierre brand was visionary, we saw this change happen. It then settled into the city bike and it’s getting on the road bike. In 2-3 years, we will have real electric bikes for the road, that is to say a bike that is not too heavy, with a motor and a battery integrated in the best possible way, to have a bike that will remain slim and aesthetic. “
How is Lapierre doing internationally?
“We are developing faster internationally than in France, because the group has regionalized its operations. All of them sell Lapierre bikes, we can optimize our strengths in the field, we benefit from the various Accell teams in other countries. This allows us to develop very strongly in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Austria in particular. We still have this international outlook and we will continue to have it. “