Company Description: Firefox
Bikes was incorporated in 2004. It currently has over 90 exclusive bike
stations across India. Through their associate offices in Taiwan and Shanghai,
Firefox Bikes is the exclusive distributor of Trek Bikes, Gary Fisher and
Popeye brands in India. Trek has the
best product resources in the industry. Through their associate offices in
Taiwan & Shanghai, Firefox put together a range of more than 50 models of
bikes, covering the entire spectrum of mountain, all terrain bikes, road bikes,
BMX and kids bikes designed in the UK & manufactured in select factories in
the Far East. With this extensive range of bikes the company also imported a
complete range of accessories covering biking essentials such as helmets,
gloves, water bottles, car carriers & many more items.
Since 2004, are you satisfied
with the way your business has progressed?
Not all the bike stations that we have rolled out are
exclusive. While some are multi-branded, some are exclusive. And yes, we are
happy with what we have achieved so far. We wanted to expand in a controlled
manner without creating undue competition in the same area for our dealers. We
are quite happy with the expansion that has taken place.
Are you planning to go beyond
your existing brands?
Between Firefox and Trek, we cover almost the entire
segment of mountain and kids bikes both in the middle-to-budget end and the
higher end of the spectrum. There are some other segments that are still open.
Brands such as Popeye are a brand within a brand (Firefox Popeye). Similarly,
we will be launching very shortly Firefox MTV brand. But these are still
Firefox-branded bikes. We will launch some high-end imported folding bikes.
What has been the response to
the Trek Elite 9.9 SSL, touted as the most expensive cycle in India?
These bikes are really meant for people who are
professional grade bikers. They are bikes which are specifically meant for a
level of biking where the person concerned knows how to handle this kind of a bike.
He is also able to maximise its features and its unique characteristics to the
maximum. The Trek Elite 9.9 SSL is the
super-light carbon-fibre hard tail mountain bike. And it is meant for those
people who take their mountain biking very seriously and want to participate in
such events like Himalayan MTV, etc. This is also meant for people who have a
high disposable income. There is no denying that it is an expensive bike. We
don’t sell it as a general bike from our range. These are imported only against
orders and are customised for the buyers in terms of the frame size that suits
him best. The response has been very satisfactory. We will sell around 6-7 such
products on a yearly basis.
What is the import duty that
you are paying for your cycles? And any plans to assemble them here?
As you know, the import duties on the cycles have just
been raised. We were paying around 15.5pc before. Now we are forking out 39pc.
There has certainly been an increase when you add on various other surcharges.
There will be some buyers who will trade down. So there will be people who are
looking for high-end Trek or go for a low-end one. But we have no plans to
assemble them here.
What is the size of the Indian
bicycle industry? And what is your current marketshare?
The Indian bicycle industry is actually very big at 15
million units per annum. The majority of these cycles is in the mass segment or
variants of a standard cycle. We are not into that segment. Therefore, our
marketshare is around 3-5pc.
Any plans to export your
products? If yes, where?
We export to Bhutan. We don’t ship our products anywhere
else as the duty is so high that it becomes economically infeasible.
Could you please talk about
your future marketing and distribution strategies to enhance your marketshare?
There is a continuous expansion of our dealer network. As
you know last year we had about 60-65 dealers. So we are adding approximately
about 25 dealers every year. And most of our dealers are coming up in tier-II
and tier-III cities. We have about 2 new company-owned outlets. That’s because
we found a niche in that area which is not covered by the existing dealers. As
far as our marketing strategies are concerned, it has been fairly constant.
Until now we have done print advertisement in magazines, and also promos and
events. But this year, we have decided to go into the TVC market.
Are you looking to have an
in-house finance arm for better sales?
No we are not. For that, you need huge volumes and also a
huge turnover. However, we have spoken to a number of banks wherein they are
ready to offer EMI schemes on their credit cards.
Do you think there is an
emerging trend of people buying hi-end cycles? If yes, please can you talk
The word ‘high-end’ in India is a bit misleading. And the
reason is what Firefox sells all over the world is considered to be the budget
end of the market. We are not in the lower strata of the market. But we are in
what we call the middle to budget end of the market. Our Trek’s entry-level
bikes are still middle-segment products. The high-end really starts when you
say that it is over US$ 1,500 i.e. over 75,000. But in India, anything over
10,000 is considered a high-end product. And will this segment keep on
increasing? Absolutely, there is no way it can’t because the kids are
re-learning the benefit of cycling. Moreover, mid-level professionals will stay
Are you working on any
There isn’t much change we can do in Trek as it is meant
for the world markets. But all the Firefox bicycles that we have are customised
for Indian conditions. Some of them are equipping our products with sidestands
(Treks), fenders (kids’ bikes), chain guards (adult bikes). So we will go up to
a point in catering to a particular consumer taste. But thereafter, we would
like to gradually move the consumer into a different kind of bicycles.
Lastly what is your vision for
When we first started this
company, we created two things. Firstly, we established the fact that in India
you can bring in relatively much more expensive bicycles. And so long as they
are of good quality with good technical specifications, a customer will be
there for them. Secondly, we came out with an innovative concept like ‘Bike
Stations’. So we didn’t allow another dealer of ours to impact Bike Stations’
sales. So therefore there is no cut-throat pricing or discounting. The whole
concept of selling bicycles in India was a dealer selling multi-branded cycles.
These were the two major changes that we brought in the Indian bicycle
industry. And we think that these two will continue much further down and
become an established part of the Indian bicycle retail segment. The vision for
the company is how really we can put 50pc of our urban schoolchildren cycling