A worker assembles bicycles at Anwang Bicycle Co Ltd in Zhuji, Zhejiang province, on March 31. [Photo/Xinhua]

Social distancing requirements and desire to stay fit create new growth avenues for firms

Chinese bicycle makers are seeing rapid growth in overseas orders as the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed lifestyles for many people, and demand for social-distancing transportation and exercise rises, according to industry insiders.

“In 1994, Phoenix Bicycle reached a historic sales peak of 5.51 million units that it wouldn’t achieve again for more than two decades. But this year, we expect to rewrite this record,” said Ji Xiaobing, vice-president of Shanghai Phoenix Bicycle Co Ltd.

Worldwide sales of Phoenix in the first 10 months this year had already surpassed 5.51 million units.

The company’s shares have been witnessing robust trading on the bourses recently.

Various factors are backing the capital market to buy into the Shanghai-based bicycles brand. One is the surging demand from home and abroad for its bikes amid the backdrop of the pandemic, and the other is China’s quick recovery in economic activity and its complete industrial chains.

Like Phoenix, other major bicycle manufacturers have been seeing soaring sales over the past few months.

“Since July, we have seen an average of thousands of new orders per day, with the majority placed by customers overseas,” said Li Qing, president of Easy-Try Cycles (Tianjin) Co Ltd.

Currently, Easy-Try clients need to wait about 100 days to receive their bicycles, and the Tianjin-based company is striving to deliver another 100,000 models by the end of this year.

Likewise, Guangdong province-based TAILG Electric Vehicle Co Ltd is working against time to make and ship their electric bikes and scooters to domestic and foreign buyers.

“Our schedule is booked up until 2021, and the earliest delivery date for any order placed today is 120 days later,” said Zhu Wenqing, general manager of export production with TAILG.

The trend is similar for Shanghai Forever Bicycle Co, which saw an alltime high sales in the first 10 months, registering a year-on-year growth of 70 percent.

“During the period from January to October, Forever’s sales of bicycles surged 70 percent and electric bikes grew 22 percent. Our profit increased more than 70 percent, and we sold out up to 200,000 units of products online during the Double 11 shopping festival,” said Miao Dan, director of branding with Shanghai Forever.

“Facing the unprecedented need for bicycles, it is only possible for Chinese manufacturers to make delivery because China has brought COVID-19 under better control across the nation and has a complete production chain in place,” said Qi Xiaozhai, director of the Shanghai Commercial Economic Research Center.