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Hero Cycles to Grow 60% by 2022 and UK Will Help It

Sreeram said the UK operations would not only go a long way to help the company grow at a robust pace but would also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

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Sreeram said it was natural for Hero Cycles to
Hero Cycle to grow by expanding in uk, wikimedia commons

As India’s iconic Hero Cycles makes inroads into the UK and European markets with the launch of 75 bikes under its new “Insync” brand, the worlds biggest bicycle manufacturer aims to grow by over 60 per cent over the next four years, says Sreeram Venkateswaran, head of the companys UK operations.

He said that from a $800-850 million company (across all its businesses, including automotive), it is poised to become $1.3 billion to $1.4 billion company by 2022, with Europe and bicycles being an “extremely important component” of that growth story.

Sreeram told IANS in an interview that with the launch of the Insync brand, the company not only aims to penetrate the mid-premium segment of the European market but also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

In 2015, Hero Cycles had acquired the UK’s Avocet Sports to expand its footprint into Europe and Sreeram was appointed Avocet CEO. Last year, the company opened a global design centre in Manchester to design bicycles of global standards. The 75 new cycles are the first of the lot designed at the $2.7 million Hero Cycles Global Design Centre.

Sreeram said it was natural for Hero Cycles to “get out of the well called India” if it had to transform itself into a strong global player from “value perspective” from being one of the largest manufacturers from a “volume perspective”.

The 75 new cycles are the first of the lot designed at the $2.7 million Hero Cycles Global Design Centre.
Cycling, Representational image- Pexels

“Just from the figures perspective, India does about 17 million bicycles a year and the total value is $1 billion. UK does about 2.75 million bicycles a year and the business is worth about $2 billion to $2.1 billion. Europe does about 21 million bicycles and the business is about $12 billion,” he said.

At the same time, the company’s Europe and UK plans are in sync with its growth plans in India, Sreeram said.

With India’s medium- to high-end cycling segment growing at about 25-27 per cent over the last one-and-a-half years, Hero Cycles plans to optimise the Insync brand models for the Indian market and then take them back home.

“Also, having the ownership of Firefox in India, which is clearly the market leader in the mid to high-end bikes, we are well poised to garner a disproportionate share of the growth as the market starts to grow,” he said.

Sreeram said the UK operations would not only go a long way to help the company grow at a robust pace but would also transform the way it caters to the Indian market.

“UK happens to be in a very nice cusp of market development. It’s about three to four years behind mainland Europe and it’s about three to four or five ahead of the Indian development cycle.

As Indias iconic Hero Cycles makes inroads into the UK and European markets with the launch of 75 bikes under its new "Insync" brand
Hero Cycles to expand in UK, pexels

“What it does from a business perspective is that while usually a bike range has shelf life of one year, a facility in Manchester gives me an opportunity to extend that shelf life to three to four years,” Sreeram said.

“So any investment I make into design and development of bicycles here in this facility has actually four times the value that can be extracted compared to any other company which is solely based out of Europe or the UK and selling only in this market. That’s a huge advantage,” Sreeram said.

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The facility in the UK and designing bikes for the European market make it necessary for the company to also keep updating the design and manufacturing team back home in India to bring it at par with what is required by a European customer, he added.

“So they start looking at quality from not what a guy in Latur would want but as what a guy in Luxemburg will want. That’s the difference we have to create even from a quality perspective.

“These are the kinds of things that are slowly getting imbibed in the entire manufacturing chain which makes us a much more robust and stronger company,” he added. (IANS)

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Populism Facing Pre-Election Public Oppositions from European Catholic Clerics

The Catholic bishops from France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg y in opposition to nationalist populists

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populism, pre election, catholic, european
FILE - A demonstrator holds a European flag during a protest in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, March 26, 2019. VOA

Catholic clerics in four northern European countries have taken the unprecedented step of urging their congregations to back pro-European Union parties in continent-wide elections later this month. The Catholic bishops from France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg have put themselves squarely in opposition to nationalist populists.

Praising the principle of solidarity and collaboration among nations, they warn that the EU is under threat.

The bishops urged Europeans to vote in the May 23-26 elections for the 751-seat EU parliament in a show of support for European unity and to promote “dialogue and integration between peoples.”

Analysts say this month’s election is possibly the most consequential since 1979, when Europeans first began casting ballots for a European parliament. The continent’s new breed of nationalist populists is eschewing pocketbook issues in campaigning and focusing on issues of national identity.

populism, pre election, europe, catholic
FILE – Pope Francis greets faithful from the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, April 21, 2019. VOA

The bishops’ statement added, “The EU is threatened today by various economic, political, demographic and ideological crises — but we are convinced it has tools to overcome them.” The Church leaders said, “Some seek to oppose the EU and resort back to independent nations. We are certain solidarity and collaboration between nations is the most fruitful response we can offer.”

Signatories to the appeal include Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, president of the Brussels-based Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, and a dozen other prelates. Hollerich told a German Catholic news agency, “Brexit, populism and nationalism” pose a threat to Europe.​

Populist parties

The appeal has drawn the ire of nationalist populists who accuse Church leaders of meddling in politics. It has become the latest flashpoint in a rhetorical battle between populists and church hierarchies in several European states.

Church leaders say they felt compelled to issue the appeal because of a surge in support for anti-establishment populists.

Populist parties, especially in Italy, Poland, Hungary and France, expect to make major gains in the elections. Pollsters are predicting euroskeptic populists will capture a third of the European parliament’s seats.

Pope Francis has spoken frequently against some aspects of the current surge in nationalist populism and recommenced instead a Christian populism. During an outdoor Mass last month, he told a crowd of 100,000 that “the only possible populism” is a Christian one that “listens to and serves the people without shouting, accusing, stirring up quarrels.”

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‘At war’ over migrants

The editor of L’Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, has accused Matteo Salvini, the firebrand leader of Italy’s far-right Lega party, of being “at war” with the Catholic Church over the treatment of migrants.

Marco Tarquinio’s accusation followed a new anti-migrant law that aims to deny undocumented migrants access to shelters. The law also doubles the time undocumented migrants can be detained, and eliminates humanitarian grounds for granting asylum to migrants unless they’re specifically fleeing political persecution or war.

“In Italy, the war against solidarity networks, large and small, is becoming more bitter and aggressive each day,” Tarquinio wrote in the editorial, in which he condemned what he called the Italian government’s “hostility” toward charitable organizations.

On Monday, a close aide to Pope Francis drew Salvini’s ire by climbing through a manhole to reconnect the electricity supply to an abandoned government-owned building occupied by hundreds of homeless people, including migrants and children. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who distributes the Pope’s charity funds, broke a police seal to re-connect the electrical circuit.

populism, pre election, europe, catholic
FILE – Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini takes a selfie with supporters in Corleone, Sicily, Italy April 25, 2019. VOA

Rome’s left-leaning Ia Repubblica newspaper dubbed Krajewski “The Pope’s Robin Hood.” The building had been without power since May 6, when the circuits were cut because of more than $300,000 in unpaid bills.

“Defending illegality is never a good sign,” Salvini told reporters. “There are many Italians and even legal immigrants who pay their bills, even if with difficulty. People can do what they please, but as interior minister, I guarantee the rules.”

Nationalist populists do have supporters among prelates, especially in central Europe. A former Polish secretary-general of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community, Msgr. Piotr Mazurkiewicz, told the Catholic News Service recently that some “anti-establishment parties” had “sensible reform ideas,” and could be instrumental in encouraging EU institutions to adopt a “more conservative attitude to religion, family life and national identity.”(VOA)