The Indian bicycle sector can be broadly classified into four segments—standard, fancy, premium and super-premium. ‘Standard’ is the traditional black bicycle. Tweak its frame, add some colours, and it becomes a ‘fancy’ bicycle. Add shockers and a drivetrain system, and it can be classified as ‘premium’. Add more equipment, and you can call it as ‘super-premium’. The products made by Firefox Bikes, acquired by Hero Cycles this week, fall in the ‘premium’ segment. For Hero, this deal means further expansion in the premium cycle segment; it already has its own product in the segment, called the Urban Trail. “Firefox will benefit from Hero Cycles’ long-standing credibility among customers, dealers and business partners,” says Shiv Inder Singh, CEO, Firefox Bikes. In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, Singh adds that Hero will also invest in upgrading and expanding Firefox stores in India. Excerpts:
How will this deal help Firefox as a brand?
We had reached a certain limitation stage in funding the next big expansion of Firefox. Our warehouse capacity was almost full and our ability to finance further expansion seemed under stress. I also felt that, at the age of 66, do I really want to pump in more money and more energy into the business? If Firefox was to continue with its expansion and dealer-development development initiatives, and also have funds for electronic marketing, we would have had to re-evaluate our growth path. This deal comes at the right time and will ensure that Firefox will benefit from Hero Cycles’ long-standing credibility among customers, dealers and business partners.
This acquisition will help Firefox to penetrate further into the Indian market. It will also help Firefox expand its marketing visibility and acquire an aggressive approach in reaching out to our prospective customers. Hero has committed in investing in expanding and upgrading our product range which will hit the markets soon.
Will Firefox bikes be available at Hero showrooms?
Some selective products from Firefox might be displayed at Hero showrooms. However, the Firefox model doesn’t focus on numbers—our focus is customer satisfaction and creation of brand value—and this model will not be tinkered with.
How many bike stations do you currently have?
Today we have over 190 bike stations pan-India and is also venturing abroad. Our first international showroom is in Bhutan. We are growing and expanding in every direction.
How is the Trek brand performing in India?
Trek is performing well. With a wide product line (28 models) and competitive pricing, Trek has created a space for itself in the Indian super-premium and performance bike market.
September 22 is World Car Free Day. Do you anticipate sales increase if such trends spread nationwide?
I think this trend is here to stay. It definitely will benefit our business, since urban middle-classes and upper middle-classes are our primary customers. Such trends will also give a fillip to our aim of breeding the cycling culture in the country. Lately, Raahgiri Day has gained immense popularity among the people of Delhi NCR. It is another such event that has helped Firefox in capturing a larger segment of the market.