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Giant to Expand into Fashion Industry: Chairman Liu

Jul 03, 2014 | By Quincy Liang

King Liu, chairman of world's largest bicycle brand GiantKing Liu, chairman of world's largest bicycle brand Giant

Taiwan-based Giant Manufacturing Co., Ltd., the world's largest manufacturer of assembled bicycles, recently announced plans to develop its global business through a multi-brand strategy.

King Liu, chairman of Giant, said after his company's recent shareholder meeting that Giant would launch the world's first female bicycle brand, "Liv," this year. In addition, the group's "Momentum" brand, originally limited to the Chinese market, will be expanded to the international stage in 2015, Liu added.

The chairman claimed that the 42-year-old Giant would kick off its sixth restructuring plan in 2014, turning the group from a traditional manufacturing firm into a fashion enterprise.

Liu said that sales of female bicycles have risen steadily since his company introduced the "Liv/giant" sub-brand in 2008. Giant will make the "Liv" brand an independent logo this year, underscoring the company's attention to the growing number of female cyclists worldwide. Giant is scheduled to announce the female bicycle brand in the U.S. in July, and Europe in September. The company expects sales to accelerate rapidly from 2015.

Tony Lo, president of Giant, said that the "Momentum" brand has been largely limited to the Taiwanese and Chinese markets but will be expanded to other Asian markets and Europe from 2015. This year, he added, sales of Momentum bicycles are expected to increase by 20%.

Currently, there are six sales points of Liv female bicycle models in Taiwan, China and Japan. The brand is also sold through "shop in shop" channels in the U.S., France, Spain and the U.K. Giant plans to begin developing similar sales channels for the Momentum brand in China to boost sales.

The Giant group sold 6.3 million products in 2013. It expects the sales volume to outstrip 6.5 million units this year thanks to channel expansions for Liv and Momentum brands.

In the future, Liu explained, Giant will utilize its three brands to more aggressively develop sales by targeting at the sports/racing segment (with Giant-branded products), female cyclist (Liv) and high-quality, affordable-price market (Momentum). He added that many people may not know that the YouBike public bicycles in Taipei are all under the Momentum brand.

Taipei's YouBike system is the world's most popular public bicycle service.
 
Taipei's YouBike system is the world's most popular public bicycle service.

Last year, Giant group reported annual consolidated revenue of NT$54.39 billion (US$1.81 billion), generating net earnings of NT$3.43 billion (US$114.3 million) and translating into earnings per share (EPS) of NT$9.34 (US$0.31). Both the EPS and cash dividends distributed by Giant (NT$6, or US$0.2) were record highs for the company.

In the first five months, Giant had accumulated revenue of NT$24.6 billion (US$819.9 million), up 7.3% from the same period of last year. The firm expects revenue to gain by 5% to 10% for all of 2014.

At his company's shareholder meeting, Liu said his dream of creating a bicycle-friendly environment in Taiwan is gradually coming to fruition. A recent poll showed that 90% of the public are satisfied with the Giant-developed and -sponsored YouBike public-bicycle system in Taipei. The success of the system has encouraged many other cities on the island to introduce similar services.

A high-end Giant brand racing bike
A high-end Giant brand racing bike

At the shareholder meeting, Liu said that the YouBike, which is operated by Giant under government commission, has accumulated over 22 million uses, equal to an average of nine rides per resident of Taipei (the capital's population is 2.6 million). In addition, a YouBiker set a record of 12 uses in one day, also a world record.

To promote bicycling sports and recreation in Taiwan, Liu cycled around Taiwan two times: once at the age of 73 and another at 80. Liu said that's the way to stay young!


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