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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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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.

Also Read: Indian Art Forms in International Festivals Through Sands of Culture Series

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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Here’s How Facebook Identifies ‘Inauthentic Behaviour’

To ensure that we stay ahead, we’ve invested heavily in better technology and more people.

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This photo shows the logo for Facebook on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. VOA

Facebook announced Friday that it had removed 82 Iranian-linked accounts on Facebook and Instagram. A Facebook spokesperson answered VOA’s questions about its process and efforts to detect what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior” by accounts pretending to be U.S. and U.K. citizens and aimed at U.S. and U.K. audiences.

Q: Facebook’s post says there were 7 “events hosted.” Any details about where, when, who?

A: Of seven events, the first was scheduled for February 2016, and the most recent was scheduled for June 2018. One hundred and ten people expressed interest in at least one of these events, and two events received no interest. We cannot confirm whether any of these events actually occurred. Some appear to have been planned to occur only online. The themes are similar to the rest of the activity we have described.

Q: Is there any indication this was an Iranian government-linked program?

A: We recently discussed the challenges involved with determining who is behind information operations. In this case, we have not been able to determine any links to the Iranian government, but we are continuing to investigate. Also, Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab has shared their take on the content in this case here.

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Iranians surf the internet at a cafe in Tehran, Iran, Sept, 17, 2013. In Iran, a government push for a ‘halal’ internet means more control after protests.. VOA

Q: How long was the time between discovering this and taking down the pages?

A: We first detected this activity one week ago. As soon as we detected this activity, the teams in our elections war room worked quickly to investigate and remove these bad actors. Given the elections, we took action as soon as we’d completed our initial investigation and shared the information with U.S. and U.K. government officials, U.S. law enforcement, Congress, other technology companies and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab.

Q: How have you improved the reporting processes in the past year to speed the ability to remove such content?

A: Just to clarify, today’s takedown was a result of our teams proactively discovering suspicious signals on a page that appeared to be run by Iranian users. From there, we investigated and found the set of pages, groups and accounts that we removed today.

To your broader question on how we’ve improved over the past two years: To ensure that we stay ahead, we’ve invested heavily in better technology and more people. There are now over 20,000 people working on safety and security at Facebook, and thanks to improvements in artificial intelligence we detect many fake accounts, the root cause of so many issues, before they are even created. We’re also working more closely with governments, law enforcement, security experts and other companies because no one organization can do this on its own.

Facebook, Child nudity
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

Q: How many people do you have monitoring content in English now? In Persian?

A: We have over 7,500 content reviewers globally. We don’t provide breakdowns of the number of people working in specific languages or regions because that alone doesn’t reflect the number of people working to review content for a particular country or region at any particular time.

Q: How are you training people to spot this content? What’s the process?

A: To be clear, today’s takedown was the result of an internal investigation involving a combination of manual work by our teams of skilled investigators and data science teams using automated tools to look for larger patterns to identify potentially inauthentic behavior. In this case, we relied on both of these techniques working together.

Also Read: Social Media Advertising in 2019: Staying Ahead of The Curve

On your separate question about training content reviewers, here is more on our content reviewers and how we support them.

Q: Does Facebook have any more information on how effective this messaging is at influencing behavior?

A: We aren’t in a position to know. (VOA)