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1 Accell Group at a glance

1.1 Highlights 2015


Profile

Accell Group is active across the world in the middle and higher segments of the markets for bicycles and bicycle parts and accessories. The company is market leader in Europe and is among the largest players in North America in terms of sales via specialist bicycle and sports retailers. Accell Group is also Europe’s market leader in electric bikes.The company’s portfolio includes strong national brands and leading international (sports) brands that together provide an extremely complete and complementary range of products. 

Accell Group has around 3,000 employees in 18 countries, with its own support facilities for the assembly and spray painting of bicycles in six countries. In 2015, Accell Group sold a total of 1.6 million bicycles in more than 70 countries (including export). The group booked a total turnover of € 986 million. The company head office is in Heerenveen. Accell Group shares are traded on the official market of Euronext Amsterdam and included in the Amsterdam Small Cap Index (AScX).


Turnover 




Board of Directors

History


Awards 2015




Brands


1.2 Company profile


Profile

Accell Group is active across the world in the middle and higher segments of the markets for bicycles and bicycle parts and accessories. The company is market leader in Europe and is among the largest players in North America in terms of sales via specialist bicycle and sports retailers. Accell Group is also Europe’s market leader in electric bikes. The company’s portfolio includes strong national brands and leading international (sports) brands that together provide an extremely complete and complementary range of products to meet every bike-related demand. Accell Group has around 3,000 employees in 18 countries, with its own support facilities for the assembly and spray painting of bicycles in six countries. In 2015, Accell Group sold a total of 1.6 million bicycles (2014: 1.7 million) in more than 70 countries. The group booked total turnover of € 986 million (2014: € 882 million).

Ambition

Accell Group wants to be a leader in the development of sustainable consumer products for short-distance mobility, active leisure activities and sports. The company focuses on the middle and top segments of the market, with high-quality, distinctively branded products with a high level of design, comfort and service.

The company believes that providing consumers with added value is crucial in the middle and higher segments of the market. This is why Accell Group’s investments in innovation are above average for the bicycle sector. The Group’s innovations are focused primarily on applications for electric bikes and high-quality sports bikes, both sectors with strong growth potential.

Accell Group also works very closely with the specialist bicycle and sports retail trade (via both physical stores and the internet) to ensure they can provide consumers with the best possible individual advice, personal attention and service.  Accell Group uses this approach, combined with its benefits of scale, the strengthening of positions in existing markets and the development of new leading market positions in other countries, to realise growth and value creation for its stakeholders.


Brand portfolio

The bicycle market is highly diverse in terms of characteristics, preferences and taste. The Accell Group brand portfolio can be divided into two quite distinct groups: strong national bicycle brands and international (sports) brands with a greater focus on specific sectors and niches.

Examples of the company’s strong, national bicycle brands include Batavus, Koga and Sparta in the Netherlands, Winora in Germany, Tunturi in Finland and Raleigh in the United Kingdom and North America. Accell’s well-known leading international (sports) brands include Koga, Lapierre, Haibike and Ghost. In the bicycle parts and accessories segment, Accell Group has brands such as XLC, which is sold via the specialist bicycle and sports retail trade. All brands have their own, specific, strong positioning and are leaders in the country or market in which they operate. 

Culture and organisation

Accell Group has a flat organisational structure with an open culture. Subsidiaries have a high level of operational responsibility, primarily related to the positioning of their brand(s) in their own markets, while the brand strategy for the country or market is determined in consultation with the holding company. This encourages an entrepreneurial spirit within the Group, with a continuous focus on innovation, design, brand experience and an active approach to the market, through both online and offline channels. 

Listing

The Accell Group share has been listed since 1998 and is traded on the NYSE Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange. The share has been part of the Amsterdam Small Cap Index (AScX) since 2008. The listing increases the transparency and discipline of the company’s management and operations and provides additional access to external capital to finance growth and thereby contributes to the realisation of Accell Group’s ambitions. 
 
 

1.3 Reporting framework and guidelines

 
Financial administration

Financial department personnel are provided with directives and instructions pertaining to the set-up and maintenance of the financial administration and reporting systems. Details of these are provided in a reference document. The directives and instructions comply with the prevailing IFRS standards.
 

Transparency benchmark

Accell Group participates in the Transparency Benchmark (TB), an annual study of the content and quality of the corporate social responsibility reports of Dutch companies, and was ranked 74 in 2015 (2014: 77).
 

Global Reporting Initiative

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is the international standard in the field of sustainability reporting. Accell Group reports on the basis of the GRI G4 ‘Core’. You can find the GRI list of contents on the Accell Group website. Accell Groupdid not receive external assurance with respect to the GRI G4 ‘Core’ because it did not ask the auditor to provide such assurance.
 

Corporate Governance code

Compliance with the Corporate Governance code is described in chapter 6 - 'Governance & Compliance' of this annual report.
 

1.4 Worldwide

1.5 Business model


Accell Group is active in two segments: bicycles, and bicycle parts & accessories. The two sets of products are complementary, which means Accell Group can provide both dealers and consumers with the most complete selection possible. At the same time, each segment has its own dynamics, which results in clear differences in terms of market approach and business model.
 

1.5.1 Bicycles


Season

Accell Group operates in an international bicycle market, which has a fixed seasonal pattern but can still vary per country. The bicycle season in Europe and North America, our primary markets, runs from September to August. And each year at the start of the new season Accell Group launches its new bicycle collections, including product launches at all the major international bicycle trade fairs.

Peaks in bicycle deliveries across the season vary from year to year, but are virtually always in the period from February through August. The diagram below shows what a typical bicycle season looks like:


Product range
Accell Group’s bicycle product range covers all key bicycle categories, with high-quality products at all price points in the middle and higher segments of the market. The group’s main bicycle categories are bikes used for recreational purposes, sports bikes and e-bikes. The product range per brand and annual collection averages 80 different models with a total of 500-700 different products (such as models for women and men, different frame sizes and colour variations, etcetera).

Close to the market
The bicycle market can be strongly differentiated in different countries. Each country has its own market characteristics with variations in popularity, preferences and taste in terms of bicycle type and design (look and feel). There are also marked differences per market in terms of average price, quality and service, plus distribution and sales methods. Operating close to each market is crucial to success in the middle and higher segments of the bicycle market. Accell Group therefore combines one or more strong national brands with international sports brands in every country. Those international brands target specific sectors and niches in the market, niches in which the tastes and preferences of end users across the world are far more similar. These brands are exported across the globe, each from their own sales and distribution centre.



Knowing what consumers want
The sheer diversity of the bicycle markets in which Accell Group operates requires a carefully balanced brand strategy geared towards an individual look and feel for each brand, segment and country. Accell Group’s country organisations regularly conduct market research in the field of bicycles, at brand level and at segment and country level. This research is conducted directly among consumers via consumer panels or targeted studies, as well as through intensive contacts and consultations with the bicycle and sports retail trade.
The market data are collected and analysed at group level, and key changes in consumer behaviour, preferences and trends are communicated to the country organisations. This is how we provide ‘efficiency in inspiration’. After all, this prevents any overlaps in research and ensures the optimal exchange of additional market information and ideas that is often not an option for smaller players.


Informing consumers well
The bicycle is a complex product with many moving parts and prone to maintenance. Information provision to the consumer, directly and through the dealer network is therefore essential. Through the websites of the brands the consumer is informed in detail about product data, technical specifications and usage. Not only to choose the right product, but also how to use it safely and correctly. Every product comes with a comprehensive manual in the language of the country of sale. The dealer network is intensively trained and periodically provided with the latest information to properly address the consumer. Besides websites, we also actively work with social media like Facebook to be easily accessible to consumers, also if these are complaints. Every organization has a complaints procedure to ensure that these are properly received and processed, whether coming by mail, via the consumer line, webpage, social media, or through the dealer.


Alert to market developments
To make we have a complete picture of the market, we maintain regular contacts with suppliers and check out developments at international bicycle trade fairs. We keep an eye out for new materials and material-uses, technology and other innovations, and analyse whether these offer interesting opportunities for (application in) Accell Group bicycles. Accell Group also shares this market information with its country organisations.


Distinctive in design, innovation and style
Every bicycle brand has its own design and development team and each year they design new bicycle collections. Their task is to design new and up-to-date models that meet market demands. Design is extremely important to remain distinctive. Consumer demand is also important but not the main driver for all companies. Some companies (such as Koga, Winora and Lapierre) develop bicycles beyond expectations. They provide pleasant surprises with unexpected, smart innovations. Accell Group regularly carries out market research among consumers to conduct interim assessments of new products and make adjustments.



Each brand has its own unique position. The positioning of the individual brands is supported and optimised at group level through portfolio management per brand, segment and country.


Gaining and sharing know-how
The Accell Group companies devote considerable attention to various short and long-term innovation projects and know- how exchange. The focal points are comfort, safety, riding properties, weight, use of electronics, sustainability and all technology relating to electric bikes.
Accell Group stimulates, organises and facilitates know-how sessions for product developers and product managers several times a year, giving them the opportunity to exchange new ideas, share progress in developments within projects, plus general market information. Cooperation and team formation in product developments and production result in cost savings and the acceleration of innovation projects. This helps Accell Group realise a short time-to-market.


Award-winning and patented innovations
Every year, various innovations find their way through Accell Group and into the bicycle collections, whenever possible with international patent protection. Each and every national and international award that Accell Group wins each year for its new models serves to confirm the group’s leading role in the field of design and the application of innovations in bicycles. You will find the key awards won in 2015 in section 3.4 ‘Awards’ of this annual report.


Leisure, commuting, home to school
Accell Group devotes special attention to the development of electric bikes. The market for electric bikes is changing rapidly. The traditional image of the electric bike as a ‘bike for senior citizens’ is changing to encompass new users and a much broader range of uses, such as active leisure time and short and mid-range mobility, including commutertravel and more frequent use for home-to-school travel as well. We expect the growth potential to remain high for this type of bicycle in the long term. The assisted pedalling feature means electric bikes are both sustainable and relatively high-tech, with lots of room for innovation and the continued development of applied technology. The available technology is used across the entire group and Accell Group subsidiaries translate it in line with their own brand positioning and values.


Sports bikes
In addition to electric bikes, Accell Group also devotes a great deal of attention to the development of high-grade sports bikes. We focus on the introduction of new technologies and innovations to help the brands maintain their leading positions. This market is developing on an international scale and it is therefore far more homogenous than the local markets in which Accell Group is active. Accell Group‘s international sports brands, like Lapierre, Ghost, Haibike and Koga, work closely together on the development of bicycles, and parts and accessories. Each year, we introduce key improvements in the field of frames, forks and suspension systems in racing bikes, time trial bikes, track bikes, MTBs and downhill bikes.


Targeted marketing
As outlined above, the characteristics of the bicycle market vary widely per country, which makes operating close to the market crucial. That also applies to the marketing of Accell Group’s products. Accell Group has a decentralised marketing organisation, which ensures that the company has the best possible brand and marketing strategy for the various markets a brand serves. We use an ingenious marketing communication of traditional and new media, with both themed campaigns and direct marketing geared at consumers and specialist retailers. The company also makes sure experiences and best practices are shared across the group on a regular basis.


Sponsoring
Sponsoring is an increasingly important marketing tool, especially for Accell’s internationally operating bicycle brands. Brands like Koga, Lapierre, Ghost, Haibike, Diamondback and Raleigh are highly visible at all the major international cycling events in Europe and North America. For other brands with a much stronger national profile, the company focuses on local sponsoring.


Efficient sourcing
Accell Group cooperates closely with a number of suppliers in Europe and Asia for the sourcing of its bicycle components. Accell Group coordinates this sourcing more and more on central level, for both the assembly of bicycles and for the sales of parts and accessories, which enables the company to generate economies of scale. The company regularly assesses whether existing cooperation with suppliers is optimal and identifies any potential efficiency measures and improvements. These assessments take into account both economic criteria and corporate social responsibility criteria.


Production
Around 60% of all bicycles are assembled in our own production facilities. The 40% of bicycles sourced elsewhere are mainly children’s bicycles, entry-level mountain bikes and virtually all bicycles for the North American market. The purchased bicycles are produced in Asia and Europe.


Assembly
Assembly of bicycles close to the market increases flexibility and enables Accell Group to respond quickly to the wishes of its customers. The company outsources (parts of) the assembly process whenever this generates attractive cost benefits, without having to make any concessions in terms of quality and flexibility. The ability to produce small series quickly and efficiently is a key criterion, due to Accell Group’s focus on the middle and higher market segments. The increasing interest in specialties and custom-made products makes this even more important. This is why most assembly takes place close to Accell Group’s key markets, which are largely in Europe and partly in Turkey.


Accell Group production facilities
Accell Group has production facilities in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Hungary, Turkey and China. The vast majority of bicycle assembly is done by hand. All production, assembly and paint technologies are employee-friendly and trendsetting in the bicycle industry. All production facilities devote considerable attention to internal training and the versatility of the employees. A considerable number of employees in the production facilities work on the basis of flexible and temporary contracts, which means we can respond effectively to changes in production levels during the season.





Sales to specialist retail trade, online support and service
Professional advice and service play a key role in bicycle sales. Accell Group bicycles and parts and accessories are therefore sold to consumers primarily via bicycle and sports retailers. The online platforms of Accell Group’s brands play a supporting role in this, in terms of brand experience, product selection and ease of purchase. Whenever possible, the country organisations and their own brands cooperate closely in their approach to the retail trade.

Consumers can order bicycles made according to their own specifications via the internet, often in cooperation with a retail specialist - the custom-made bicycle. Among the brands offering custom-made bicycle programmes online are Koga (‘Koga Signature’), Lapierre (‘Webseries’), Staiger (‘Sinus’) and Haibike.

The specialist retail trade is changing rapidly. Points of sale are becoming larger and more modern.  Internet and e-commerce are creating new opportunities to increase brand experience, choice and selection and ease of purchase. These trends also increase the opportunities for more intensive cooperation between brands and the retail trade in terms of service and support; in other words, more in-store marketing and direct marketing.

The vast majority of consumers see the specialist retailer as a key partner in terms of advice and service. Not only in the purchase stages, but also in terms of after sales, when it comes to checking, final assembly and preparing the bicycle for use, as well as in terms of buying parts and accessories.  Accell Group works very closely with dealers selling our own XLC brand to generate consumer attention for XLC bicycle parts and accessories using special presentation systems and exclusive XLC displays.

1.5.2 Bicycle parts and accessories


The season for bicycle parts and accessories has a more level sales pattern than the season for bicycles and runs from February through November. Unlike the bicycle activities, sales of bicycle parts & accessories is a pure trading activity, so Accell Group has no in-house production activities or new product launches.


Product range
In the bicycle parts and accessories business, it is essential to have a broad and carefully selected product range. Accell Group’s ranges include between 10,000 and 20,000 different products and cover all key price points. In addition to third-party brands, Accell Group also sells an extensive collection of parts and accessories under its own A-brand XLC. The XLC brand parts and accessories are sold right across the Accell Group organisation, as well as via numerous distributors in countries where Accell Group has no sales organisation of its own. The sales coverage is virtually worldwide, in terms of countries with a well-developed bicycle culture.


Close to the market
Bicycle parts & accessories depend much more on availability and delivery speed than the bicycle business, while brand and brand experience are less important. Unlike in the bicycle business, there is no order book for parts and accessories. Export is often limited to neighbouring countries. To create a Europe-wide network, it is essential to have local sales organisations with local distribution centres so we can deliver to the bicycle and sports retail trade within 24-48 hours.



Knowing what consumers want

While consumers may be willing to wait for delivery of a bicycle, this is different for parts and accessories. The main concern of retailers and consumers is easy availability and short delivery times for parts and accessories. So the differentiating factors on this front are the availability of a broad, carefully selected product range, an ordering system that is available 24/7 and an efficient supply chain. The online market is also more important in this segment than in the bicycle segment.

Consumers are also far less concerned with brands for bicycles parts and accessories than they are about bike brands, with the exception of the top segment of the market.

Distinctive in design, innovation and style
In parts and accessories, we have less in-house technological product innovation, and design and style are seen as secondary factors. However, parts and accessories are adjusted annually to keep them in line with the product and design innovations of the Accell Group brands. Differentiating potential and individual design and style only play a role in very specific product categories within accessories, such as helmets, clothes and bags, for instance in the collections sold under our own XLC brand.


Targeted marketing

Marketing efforts for bicycle parts and accessories are aimed primarily at specialist retailers and less so directly at consumers.


Efficient sourcing and production
Parts and accessories are pure trading activities for Accell Group. The products sold under our own XLC brand are unique and always selected in-house. We cooperate closely with the suppliers in this area and they are often the same producers of the bicycle components and accessories. This means we can safeguard the high quality requirements we demand for all our products.





Sales via specialist retailers, online support and service
As with bicycles, professional advice and quality service play a key role in the sale of parts and accessories. These sales are primarily via specialist bicycle and sports retailers, while the online platforms of Accell Group brands play a supporting role. The various Accell Group country organisations cooperate closely with each other and approach specialist bicycle and sports retailers together where possible, both in the field of bicycles and parts and accessories.
 

1.6 Keyfigures

(in euros, unless stated otherwise)

    2015 2014 2013 2012
Results (in millions of euros)
Net turnover   986.4 882.4 849.0 772.5
Operating profit (EBIT)   58.5 44.1 33.9 32.7
Net profit   32.3 26.5 19.0 23.3
Free cash flow 1   -31.1 38.3 -30.9 -19.9
 
Balance sheet data (in millions of euros)
Group equity   305.9 281.1 240.0 239.8
Net debt   200.0 152.3 183.5 143.8
Balance sheet total   729.7 631.8 582.1 589.7
Capital employed 2   530.3 461.2 449.6 407.5
Investments in property, plant and equipment   10.8 10.6 6.8 22.8
 
Ratios (in %)
ROCE   11.0 9.6 7.5 8.0
ROE   10.6 9.4 7.9 9.7
Operating profit/turnover   5.9 5.0 4.0 4.2
Net profit/turnover   3.3 3.0 2.2 3.0
 
Data per share 3
Number of issued shares at year-end   25,270,327 24,864,956 24,402,849 23,863,432
Weighted average number of issued shares   25,116,249 24,685,681 24,195,467 22,897,471
Net profit   1.29 1.06 0.76 0.96
Free cash flow 1   -1.24 1.53 -1.23 -0.82
Group equity   12.18 11.21 9.59 9.90
Dividend 4   0.72 0.60 0.53 0.71
 
Average number of employees (FTE's)   3,037 2,796 2,926 2,776
1) Free cash flow is defined as the balance of the net cash flow from operating- and investing activities.
2) Capital employed is the balance sheet total minus cash and cash equivalents and current non-interest bearing obligations (including current part of provisions).
3) The data per share are calculated based on the weighted average number of issued shares. The data per share for the years 2012-2014 have been adjusted for the dilution resulting from the issue of stock dividend charged to the share premium reserve in accordance with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IAS33). The adjustment factor that was applied in the reporting year for 2014 and for previous years is 0.98422.
4) The dividend per share relating to the financial year 2014 concerns the proposal to be submitted to the General Meeting of Shareholders.

 

1.7 Accell Group shares

 
Stock exchange listing

Accell Group shares have been traded on the NYSE Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange since October 1998 (symbol: ACCEL / ISIN: NL0009767532). The share has been part of the Amsterdam Small Cap Index (AScX) since 2008. 

As per 31 December 2015, 25,270,327 ordinary shares with a nominal value of € 0.01 had been issued. The closing price at year-end 2015 was € 21.07 (2014: € 13.60). Around 6.1 million Accell group shares were traded in 2015 (2014: 4.0 million), with an average of around 23,000 shares traded per trading day. The closing price of € 21.07 on 31 December 2015 constitutes a share price gain of around 55% compared with the closing price as at 31 December 2014 (€ 13.60).


 

Share price development
 


 

Disclosures of major holdings and capital interests

In the context of the act on disclosures of major holdings and capital interests, the Financial Markets Authority (AFM) has published the following statement of interests of 3% or more in Accell Group.
 


 

Dividend policy

Accell Group strives for a stable dividend policy, aimed at paying out at least 40% of net profit. In 2015, Accell Group paid out an optional dividend for 2014 of € 0.61 per outstanding ordinary share. The pay-out ratio was 58% of net profit and the dividend yield was 4.5% (based on the 2014 closing share price). At the close of the optional period, 43% of Accell Group shareholders had opted to receive a stock dividend.

Dividend proposal 2015

Given the developments of the financial results Accell Group strives to reduce the pay-out ratio of dividends to an historically more normal level of around 50%. At the same time, Accell Group feels that in determining the amount of dividend the costs related to the incident in Taiwan should not be taken into account. In the fiscal year 2015, therefore, shareholders will be proposed to receive a dividend of € 0.72 per share (2015: € 0.61) either in cash or in stock. Herewith the pay-out ratio amounts to 56%. Based on the closing price of 2015 (€ 21.07) dividend yield is 3.4%.

The use of an optional dividend means a higher pay-out ratio can be used while also maintaining a healthy balance sheet for future acquisitions. Accell Group believes this is entirely in line with the group’s growth strategy. The optional dividend enables Accell Group to offer its shareholders a high dividend yield while also improving its solvency ratio. The Board of Directors believes that this dividend yield and this form of dividend are competitive when compared to other listed companies.


Investor Relations

Accell Group strives to provide its shareholders, potential shareholders and other financial stakeholders with all relevant strategic, financial and other material information, accurately, meticulously and in a timely fashion, to improve insight into the company, current developments and the market in which it operates. Accell Group’s financial year is the same as the calendar year and runs from January through December. Accell Group publishes its full financial results annually and semi-annually. Accell Group also publishes qualitative trading updates on the company’s financial and operational developments in April and November. Such publications, as well as other (non-financial) announcements, appointments and explanations will also be made in accordance with the prevailing regulations and the guidelines of Euronext Amsterdam and the Dutch financial markets regulator Autoriteit Financiële Markten (AFM).

The company organises meetings with (major) shareholders, analysts and the media for the presentation and explanation of the annual and interim results. Prior to the publication of annual and interim results, Accell Group maintains closed periods of 6 and 3 weeks respectively. During these periods, there are no meetings or conversations with (potential) shareholders, analysts or other financial stakeholders.

In the course of the year, Accell Group conducts an investor relations policy, both for institutional investors and private investors. In the course of the year and outside the closed periods, members of the Board of Directors regularly have one-to-one meetings with major shareholders and interested institutional investors. It is worth noting that the awareness of and interest in Accell Group among foreign investors is increasing. The same is true for the interest from investors that focus on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, themes Accell Group also focuses on via its products and strategy. You will find more information about the bilateral policy on Accell Group’s website.

As in previous years, in 2015 Accell Group arranged meetings and company visits for (private) investors and shareholders at the various Accell Group companies. The company also arranged regular interviews with the (financial) media, both during the financial results publication period and outside those periods.
 

Financial calendar 2016

The following publication dates and other relevant dates are on the calendar for 2016:

29 March 2016
Registration date General Meeting of Shareholders

26 April 2016
Trading update

26 April 2016
General Meeting of Shareholders

28 April 2016
Ex-dividend listing

29 April 2016
Registration date dividend entitlement

2 May 2016 - 17 May 2016
Optional period dividend

18 May 2016
Determination swap ratio optional dividend

20 May 2016
Dividend payable

22 July 2016
Publication interim results

15 November 2016
Trading update
 

1.8 Board of Directors


 


Composition of the Board of Directors:



R.J. (René) Takens (1954)
Chairman of the Board of Directors (CEO)

Mr. Takens joined Accell Group in 1999 as CEO. After graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Twente University of Technology, Mr. Takens began his career at the Svedex Bruynzeel Group, where he remained for ten years, ultimately in the position of managing director. He subsequently spent seven years as CSM’s Managing Director for Italy.

H.H. (Hielke) Sybesma RC (1967)
Member of the Board of Directors (CFO)

Mr. Sybesma joined Accell Group in 1995 as Finance Manager for subsidiary Batavus. In the years that followed, Mr. Sybesma was closely involved with various Accell Group subsidiaries. Mr. Sybesma has been Accell Group’s CFO since April 2001. After graduating in Business Economics from Groningen University, he worked as a financial consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers for five years. Mr. Sybesma is also an Executive Master in Finance and Control (1995, Free University (VU), Amsterdam).

J.M. (Jeroen) Snijders Blok (1959)
Member of the Board of Directors (COO)

Mr. Snijders Blok studied Business Economics at the Twente University of Technology and joined Accell Group in 1992, initially in the Automation department. In subsequent years, he held the position of logistics manager at Batavus and Hercules and was later appointed managing director of Batavus. Following the acquisition of Sparta in 1999, he was appointed Managing Director of that subsidiary. He has been COO of Accell Group since April 2004.

J.J. (Jeroen) Both (1964)
Member of the Board of Directors (CSCO)

Mr. Both joined Accell Group in 2015. After studying Economy in Groningen, he began his professional career at British American Tobacco in 1989. Mr. Both held various positions in supply chain, procurement and production. He has extensive international experience, in both western and eastern Europe, as well as in Asia, where he was supply chain director and in charge of the introduction and management of British American Tobacco’s central supply chain organisations in Moscow and Singapore.
 

1.9 Message from the CEO

 
We look back at the year 2015 with satisfaction. Accell Group booked excellent results on many fronts. The popularity of e-bikes in our neighbouring countries had a particularly strong positive impact on sales figures. We have a strong position in this market segment. On the performance e-bikes front, we are the undisputed market leader. The traditional bicycle is losing ground a little, but this is in favour of the e-bike. The United States has so far not embraced the e-bike. The return on investment in that market remains below the desired level. However, the market is growing and we are keeping a close eye on developments. In addition to an increase in the bicycle market, our bicycle parts and accessories segment is also showing healthy growth. Turnover was up 9% and 19% respectively. Numbers we are pleased with. Comet in Spain and the Danish company Cycle Service Nordic made a contribution to that success, so the acquisition of those companies in 2014 and 2015 is now bearing fruit.

In 2015, our employees demonstrated just how much innovative power the company has. They once again succeeded in developing new technologies and innovations, which resulted in an excellent range of new bicycles. So I am very proud of the awards they received in this past year. No less than 13 in various categories. These successes also contributed to the strong growth in Accell Group’s turnover and result in 2015. We continue to make above-average investments in innovation and designs. Developing new ideas has always been our strength, and our passion.

The picture in the United States is mixed. While we continue to struggle in the traditional bicycle retail sector, we saw our position improve in the multi-sports chains, with our brands Diamondback and Ghost doing particularly well there. We also introduced our Haibike brand to American consumers for the first time. We have high expectations for 2016 on that front. We lost ground on the bicycle parts and accessories front. The developments in the United States have our full attention. We are working with the management to investigate the repositioning and the distribution strategy of the Raleigh brand. The same applies to the segment bicycle parts and accessories.

A major shock came with the revelation of a criminal act at an Accell Group subsidiary in Taiwan. However, we are not letting this setback overshadow the successes of our companies over the past year.


We continue to professionalise our organisation. We have a strong foundation and are ready to translate opportunities and challenges into healthy growth figures. I am therefore also very pleased with the arrival of Jeroen Both in the Board of Directors. As Chief Supply Chain Officer, he will professionalise the supply chain even further, so we can work together with our suppliers on reduced capital requirements at lower cost and greater reliability throughout the supply chain. We expect to see the first results of this initiative in the second half of 2016.

Looking to the future, we see a positive picture with opportunities for growth in multiple markets. Trends in the field of lifestyle, mobility, sustainability, health and exercise will boost the popularity of cycling internationally. We are ready to grasp our opportunities on that front, too. 

With this Annual Report 2015 we provide insight into both financial and non-financial value creation. Sustainability and corporate social responsibility are part of our products. It means that we are open to social developments and include them in our products and activities. Accell Group endorses the principles inherent in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, I thank our stakeholders for the trust placed in us. In particular, I thank our colleagues across the world. Their efforts made an undeniable contribution to our success in 2015. Thank you!


René Takens
Chief Executive Officer Accell Group