Bike brand speeds into a new era

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By WANG YING in Shang­hai wang_y­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese bi­cy­cle brand For­ever, which has a his­tory of 76 years, has joined the bi­cy­cle­shar­ing scheme in the In­ter­net Plus era by launch­ing co­op­er­a­tion with U-Bi­cy­cle.

“For­ever bi­cy­cles will ap­pear in the U-Bi­cy­cle fleet from the first quar­ter of next year,” said Yu Yi, founder and CEO of U-Bi­cy­cle.

Com­pared with its peers’ uni­fied color to iden­tify their brands, For­ever bikes un­der the U-Bi­cy­cle plan are the green Hal­ley and MARS mod­els for men and the pink MARS for women, Yu said.

“For­ever’s high qual­ity, suf­fi­cient sup­ply, as well as its eight years of ex­pe­ri­ence in run­ning pub­lic bi­cy­cle ren­tal have laid a solid foun­da­tion for the co­op­er­a­tion,” said Yu.

Bear­ing the logo of the Chi­nese char­ac­ters Yongjiu (lit­er­ally mean­ing for­ever) in the shape of a man rid­ing a bi­cy­cle, For­ever-brand bi­cy­cles have a his­tory of 76 years, and its prod­ucts used to be the most sought af­ter means of trans­port for most Chi­nese peo­ple. But when cars be­came more and more af­ford­able, the brand was largely for­gotten.

As early as 2008, Shang­haibased For­ever be­came the nation’s first pub­lic bi­cy­cle op­er­a­tor. To date, it has about 80,000 bi­cy­cles for hire across the city.

But with­out the back­ing of modern tech­nol­ogy, users have to go through a very com­pli­cated process be­fore hir­ing these bi­cy­cles. In the mean­time, the bikes have very limit- ed places to park, be­cause they have to be locked at spe­cially des­ig­nated places.

As a re­sult of the linkup be­tween U-Bi­cy­cle and For­ever, users only need to scan the QR code and pay a 298 yuan ($42) de­posit be­fore un­lock­ing the bikes. Users whose rat- ing by Sesame Credit, an in­ter­net credit agency un­der Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd’s af­fil­i­ate Ant Fi­nan­cial Ser­vice Group, is above 650 points can use the bikes with­out pay­ing a de­posit.

In spite of the ex­is­tence of Mo­bike, ofo bike and Xiaom­ing Bike on the mar­ket, Yu said he be­lieved China’s bike-shar­ing mar­ket is far from sat­u­rated.

Tak­ing Shang­hai as an ex­am­ple, there are be­tween 150,000 and 200,000 such bikes avail­able at the mo­ment, much less than the ac­tual de­mand of around 1 mil­lion, said Yu.

U-Bi­cy­cle is sched­uled to launch 2.8 mil­lion bikes for hire in 52 cities across China next year, with be­tween 100,000 and 200,000 in Shang­hai.

For­ever’s high qual­ity ... laid a solid foun­da­tion for the co­op­er­a­tion.” Yu Yi, CEO and founder of U-Bi­cy­cle amount paid by Bright Food for a 60 per­cent stake in Weetabix in 2012

Bright Food bought a con­trol­ling 60 per­cent stake in the Bri­tish brand in 2012 in a deal worth 1.2 bil­lion pounds from pri­vate equity firm Lion Capital.

At the time, the ac­qui­si­tion was the big­gest by a Chi­nese com­pany in the global food and drinks sec­tor and the Chi­nese firm said it wanted to in­vest in the long-term devel­op­ment of the brand in Asia.

The news of a po­ten­tial sale came af­ter work­ers voted to go on strike in a dis­pute over shifts.

Thomas Wu, a Shang­hai-based part­ner of Roland Berger Strategy Con­sul­tants, said: “At the be­gin­ning, Bright Food bought Weetabix aiming to ex­pand its Euro­pean mar­ket and bring the well­known brand with the launch of lo­cal­ized prod­ucts to at­tract more Chi­nese con­sumers, but I didn’t see any change it has made yet.”

He said: “We can­not say it is a failed ac­qui­si­tion as the com­pany hardly tried to make use of Weetabix’s fame and rep­u­ta­tion to ex­pand the mar­ket out of the UK.”

Con­tact the writ­ers at boleung@ mail.chi­nadai­lyuk.com and yu­ran@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

YANG YI / FOR CHINA DAILY

Vis­i­tors look at a For­ever brand bi­cy­cle dur­ing an in­ter­na­tional bike expo in Shang­hai.

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