growth in turnover in FY 20-21. This kind of demand is coming largely from children, hybrid, and adult leisure bikes that carry a more approachable price point.
It has now been about two years the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and changed people’s lives, some for worse and some for better. While most industries were negatively affected, there were some that witnessed a boost due to the drastic change in lifestyle that came about. The e-commerce industry picked up, for example. And then there is the question of fitness. The coronavirus-led lockdowns had gyms shut and people sit at home for long durations, and hence focus circled in on fitness. It has been said that the bicycle industry picked up during these tough times. To learn more, we got in touch with Sukanta Das, CEO, Firefox Bikes to find out the current status in the industry and what the brand plans to do for its operations in India.
The COVID-19 led boom in the bicycle industry is evidently visible. But did it stand true for premium bikes? What sort of growth pattern are you looking at now that the pandemic is simmering down and that it was a major reason behind large sales that took place during and after lockdowns?
The COVID-19 pandemic unleashed a series of atrocities that pushed the world to lock themselves within the periphery of their homes. As outdoor spaces, gyms and other fitness institutions were shut in wake of full implementation of social distancing, ‘Cycling’ became one of the most trending lifestyle choice around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a bike boom in India that also affected the premium cycling industry. This category in particular witnessed 6X growth in demand. Such a rise in cycling has been caused by increasing consciousness about health, well-being and eco-friendly smart mobility solutions in the new normal.
Firefox has registered a 2X growth in turnover in FY 20-21. This kind of demand is coming largely from children, hybrid, and adult leisure bikes that carry a more approachable price point. We are again looking to double our revenue in this financial year FY 21-22. Though the pandemic borne complications have thankfully subsided, the demand for premium bikes continues to be high.
Which segment or price range of bicycles attract the most buyers at Firefox?
Owing to the rising popularity for bicycles, we have received overwhelming response for each of the categories. Emerging from these – Firefox Mountain Bikes (MTBs) and Hybrid Bikes priced between 20-25K, are the most popular among bikers.
Is a brick-and-mortar sales outlet still a necessity? If so, do you have an expansion plan for it? Do you see such outlets fading out in the future since a lot of sales come through online platforms?
The pandemic has accelerated a ‘technological revolution’ in retail and made D2C the new way of shopping. As a brand, we are investing heavily in our digital offering and online customer journey. The Firefox omnichannel business model combines D2C (direct-to-consumer) innovations with a resilient countrywide offline network. Every online purchase is mapped to a dealer offline through a customized enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
Also read: Trek FX4 Sport Review: Cycling to work isn’t such a bad idea afterall
As a part of our omni-channel strategy, our long term plan is to ramp up our D2C footprint and we are aggressively working towards it. Being an aware brand, we understand the importance of in-store shopping experience and are working towards opening more experience stores across the country with an aim to provide an engaging, interactive and immersive experience to the consumers. Through these physical visitation we intend to build strong relationships with our customers and help shape their opinions in a way that an online presence couldn’t. We are looking to reignite the passion for adventure and health by creating such experiential stores thereby, attracting existing as well as potential customers.
Firefox is the first bicycle brand in India which has fully enabled Direct to Customer setup led by its e-commerce enabled website. Our brick and mortar stores are part of our strategy to create Firefox biking community in key cities. These stores serve as experience centres for customers to adopt and experience biking as a way of life. We have invested in upgrading our digital assets with Salesforce Cloud solutions and are replicating the same customer journey in the physical stores. We plan to open 35 new customer experience centres across India covering all Metros and Tier 1 cities.
Would you share the launch plan for upcoming products? Are you looking into localisation of manufacturing?
Currently, we have a lot of new bikes in the offering. We are soon launching- the first ever Gravel bike. Further we will also be soon releasing our high end models- Stravaro which is a Mountain Bike and Volante a hybrid bike. Recently, we forayed into adventure and outdoor gear segment. The product line includes backpacks, bike panniers & pouches, jerseys & t-shirts, wind cheaters & breakers and full length leg warmers in a variety of bold and seasonal colours.
We are looking at localization with the Hero Industrial Park opening, gradually moving some of the production and manufacturing in India.
Electric bicycles have been catching on recently. Where does Firefox stand in this field currently and are you launching any new products in the segment in India?
Today’s customers are highly aware of their needs & wants along with being aware of the surrounding environment. With climate control being the topic of concern worldwide, the importance to reduce individual carbon footprint has become a priority. We have witnessed a steady growth in people going for e-bikes, owing to their impact on nature. Currently Firefox offers top end e-bike called Adventron, which is India’s first Electric Mountain Bike. We are currently looking at expanding the portfolio of e-bikes.
Financial Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with the latest Biz news and updates.