In 2005-06, a new (and a younger) team took the saddle at TI Cycles and began looking for ways to change the pace. “We realised that the cycle industry was not doing enough for demand creation. There were no fresh ideas, no significant investments and over time the products had become irrelevant, too. We decided to take the leadership and bring about a transformation in the way the industry operated,” says L. Ramkumar, Managing Director, Tube Investments of India Ltd. (of which TI Cycles of India is a division).
The company began to market cycles differently. It started selling cycling instead of cycles! “We decided to address the issue of cycling itself. It was a directional shift from selling products to experience. By making cycling relevant we can get people (who had exited cycles) back on the saddle,”explains B. K. Singh, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, TI Cycles. All the communication and promotional activities were re-focussed to promote cycling- a healthy and environmental-friendly activity.
Simultaneously, it also began to work with dealers and started rolling out modern retail outlets. “We desperately needed to improve the shopping experience. Dingy shops in congested places and poor display of models invariably meant that people ended up buying the wrong cycle, which contributed to poor satisfaction levels leading to people exiting cycles altogether,” says Singh. Today, TI Cycles has 90 stores (BSA Go, Track & Trail, etc. ) in five different formats and over 240 Hercules BSA zones (shop in shop) inside major dealer outlets.
In a bid to bring urban adults back to cycles, the company launched newer models and tied-up with international brands such as Canondale (USA) and Bianchi (Italy) to offer their latest bikes for sale in India. TI Cycles also decided to leverage its BSA and Hercules brands to a wider age group by venturing into fitness equipment and battery-operated e-bikes. “Our brands stood for fun, freedom, fitness and environment. We saw fitness equipment for home segment as a good business fit with health awareness just about beginning to spread. We wanted to offer e-bikes to eople exiting cycles and looking for an environment-friendly option,” explains D. Raghuram, Senior Vice President, Bicycles & Fitness, TI Cycles. These measures coupled with back-end measures such as vendor development, revamping of manufacturing- outsourcing most component production and limiting in-house production to just frames and forks and setting up production facilities in Nasik and Noida (closer to the markets and supply chain) saw sales jump to Rs 736 crore in 2008-09 (from Rs 577 crore in 2007-08) and profit (before interest and tax) to Rs 29. 20 crore (up from Rs 21. 80 crore in 2007-08).