Nelson Tasman e-bike business Hybrid Bikes is springboarding of its stellar domestic success to launch into multiple offshore markets, beginning with the UK in June.
Hybrid Bikes Global’s founder and MD Frank Witowski says that going global in brand name and in terms of expanding markets is a deliberate strategy to counteract the potential impact of the current economic downturn.
“When Covid hit two years ago the markets went up and down and we had to be very creative to not get into any difficult situations,” says Frank, “and now the economy is again very challenging.
“Just as an example, shipping is an ongoing issue based on high container costs and lack of availability in terms of getting a container of product onto a boat. At US$14,000 per container, costs are way above the US$1800 we used to have.”
Sometimes leaning into a challenge is the best way forward, says Frank, and there are real benefits to being in control of your own destiny – especially when your product is built with carbon fibre.
“We don’t get dictated to by big brands in terms of what bikes we get and when or how to deal with customers if they haven’t got any spare parts to repair a bike. We are able to control all of those issues by putting most of our money into stock and business development. In this current global environment it is very beneficial to have created our own very successful e-bike brand in carbon fibre.
“The set-up cost was astronomical for all the tools we need to make the moulds, all the testing we needed to do and the market entry cost in getting bikes to New Zealand and creating a marketing strategy, but it all paid off. We risked a lot to be different but we never looked back. Our achievements over the last 12 months have been incredible.
“Just as two years ago we used our innovation and creativity to navigate through the economic downturn by investing even more into the New Zealand market, we’re now looking to establish our brand within the global e-bike industry. We have found many new opportunities for our brand expansion and this year will be very exciting for us.”
Hybrid Bikes first foray into an offshore market will be spearheaded in the UK by John and Karen Parker. The couple were themselves Hybrid Bikes customers. Based on their extremely positive experience they approached Frank to market Hybrid Bikes in the UK.
“They will be the ideal people to work with us in the UK because of their passion,” says Frank. “They know what they’re selling and they love what they’re selling. I think that’s very important for starting a business. They fully believe in the product. I’m so glad that we’ve found them and that we can finally kickstart in the UK. We have parts set aside for 250 bikes, which will be assembled by Hybrid Bikes in its factory in Europe before being sent to the UK. We’re all set to supply the UK business with all it needs to make the business really work.”
The UK e-bike market is worth billions of dollars annually and Frank is confident that Hybrid Bikes will have just as enthusiastic reception there as it has since launching in New Zealand.
“There are billions of dollars worth of e-bikes getting sold every year in the UK, where one in 20 people own one. There is a lot of potential for us because our due diligence tells us that the same niche market exists for our bikes in the UK as we have in this country.”
Concurrently with its expansion into the UK, Hybrid Bikes has also sent one of its bikes to Germany to get tested and reviewed with a view to creating the best possible Hybrid Bike model for German riders.
“We have planned for enough parts to build 250 bikes in our factory in Europe specifically for the German market,” says Frank. “E-bike sales in the UK and Europe markets are expected to hit US$30 billion by 2030.
“Hybrid Bikes has been fortunate enough to double its turnover and increase its revenue by more than 100 percent in the past year due to being creative and innovative. We’re now on track to turn our business into a multi-million dollar global company, which is fantastic! Activating our plan for selling Hybrid Bikes in Australia is our next step,” Frank says.
Photo: The Hybrid bikes team, with Frank Witowski on the far right.