Giant Europe

“Giant Europe has had its head office in Lelystad since 1986, and at a highly visible location along the A6 motorway since 1996. Some aspects of bicycle production were also moved here. The Netherlands was selected as a location after Giant commissioned an independent agency to assess eight European countries against thirty criteria such as tax conditions, infrastructure, and the availability of staff. European subsidies were available for establishment of industry in ‘the new land’ of Flevoland. The Dutch government introduced exceptionally favourable incentives. Besides, the ‘made in Holland’ tag gives Giant added value: the Dutch are a nation of cyclists and out of the 400,000 bicycles we sell annually in Europe, twenty percent is destined for the Dutch ‘home market’. The Netherlands also scores highly in work ethics and efficiency.

The great advantages of having a site in Flevoland in particular, are the room for establishment and expansion, short lines of communication with local government, and the central location in terms of transport and logistics.”

Giant is the largest bicycle factory in the world with a production capacity of 6 million bicycles annually. Production is split into seventy percent for its own brand and thirty percent across other bicycle brands. Three companies are co-located in Lelystad: Giant Europe holdings, a sales subsidiary of Giant Benelux, and the production branch of Giant Europe Manufacturing.

When Giant decided to relocate to an imposing new build located along the A6 motorway in Lelystad, having been established in the same city for ten years, part of its production operation was also brought across from Taiwan. Ramaekers: “Being in Europe, we are better placed to quickly service the needs of European clients. Gone is the journey time by ship from Asia, and European components no longer need to be transported back and forth, with all the associated import taxes.”

The Netherlands was selected as a location after Giant commissioned an independent agency to assess eight European countries against thirty criteria such as tax conditions, infrastructure, and the availability of staff. “The outcome of that study determined the location choice. Ireland came first, with the Netherlands in second place based on work ethics and efficiency, etc. The Netherlands received preference over Ireland, because the Dutch government introduced exceptionally favourable incentives and because the ‘made in Holland’ tag gives a bicycle added value: Giant sells over 400,000 bicycles annually, of which twenty percent in the Netherlands; the ‘home market’ is booming.”

Various Dutch local authorities and administrations presented Giant with proposals for establishing itself here. The choice fell on Flevoland. Ramaekers: “The ‘new’ land offers different opportunities to the ‘old’ land; space and expansion opportunities abound here. There is a can-do mentality, so lines of communication to local government are short. Besides, we were able to acquire a highly visible site along the A6 motorway and Flevoland is very central in terms of transport and logistics. European subsidies were also significant. Not the deciding factor, but nevertheless… the European Social Fund allocated us 25,000 guilders per contracted employee, and with two hundred employees, we are a large employer in Flevoland. Availability of staff for production work was somewhat problematic at that time, but because Flevoland is so centrally located and accessible without traffic congestion, that was quickly solved with workers from other parts of the Netherlands and even from Poland.”

It was clearly a smart choice. Giant is thriving. The 2008 Bicycle of the Year was a Giant. They won the Red Dot Award for design with the City Storm. Giant is the official 2009 sponsor of the Rabobank cycling team. Ramaekers: “It’s all about innovation. We have design centres in Lelystad, Taiwan and the United States. In Taiwan, we have a Techno Centre; we have a hundred engineers working in Taiwan alone. Our design is distinctive, as is our engineering. Giant makes sporty, lightweight bicycles that suit diverse lifestyles. There will continue to be less mass production and more production of bicycles based on the individual, the ‘authentic self ’. Ride life, ride Giant. And that works very well in Lelystad/Flevoland, the ‘China of the West’, as my Taiwanese colleagues sometimes refer to it.”

Visit: www.giant-bicycles.com

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