Chinese bikes in Poland
David McMullan talks to Marcin Bowsza CEO of Powerbike Poland
What is the general condition of the motorcycle market in Poland? Is it growing due to fuel prices or receding due to cheaper cars?
Like many European countries, the Polish motorcycle market has experienced the decrease of new registrations. The Seasons from 2009 till 2013 were quite repressive. It’s a bit too early to summarize 2014 but it appears that there is more optimism in the air. There are many factors behind that. First of all the economic situation has improved and people are no longer afraid, so general consumption of goods has started to increase. The second, which I believe is even more important, is the change of law. Now every person who has a car driving license is allowed to ride scooters and motorcycles up to the capacity of 125cc. It created the demand in the market, but moreover it made the motorcycle more popular and fashionable again. The new law was introduced end of August, so we expect that next seasons should bring the real benefits for the Polish motorcycle industry players and Chinese producers as well.
Have you seen a rise of Chinese bikes in Poland?
Since many years Chinese bikes are very popular in Poland. They have good price-quality ratio, which is very important for Poles, while our average monthly income is only 750 euro, still very little compared to western markets.
What are peoples attitude to Chinese motorcycles?
It varies but generally improves every year. It also very much depends on the distributor representing each factory in Poland. The quality is improving but sometimes lack of spare parts and bad after-sales service is also undermining the reputation of the producer. There are some brands with a good reputation in terms of quality and I believe they are the future of the market, as customers are more and more often interested not only in price but in fail safety as well.
What certificates are needed for Chinese companies to export motorcycle models to Poland?
Poland is member of the EU, so we have similar regulations like other European countries. Vehicle needs to pass homologation tests to be approved for registration.
What are the main selling models? I.E commuters (cubs, scooters), Japanese sports bikes, American cruisers etc…
Naked and sport bikes are the most popular. Cruisers are stable but not increasing much. Tourism and Enduro are getting more and more popular every year.
What advice would you give to a Chinese manufacturer looking to break in to the Polish Market?
Well it depends on the producer’s business strategy. Whether its short term sales or long term brand image, like we can see for example with helmet brand LS2.
To invest in long term results they have to be more careful about the distribution chain as a whole. That means they should more closely cooperate with their distributors, have a common communication strategy, share best practices among them, etc. In general, not only supply the product, but stay in touch with the whole market concept. It’s hard, but pays off and allows increasing profitability. I also think that scooter or accessories producers should not look at the Poland as a separate market. Many Chinese companies from different industries are already based in Poland and use our competitive work force and low costs to create European distribution centres and supply support to their partners from Western Europe. I think it’s time that our industry benefits from it as well.
Which companies are the biggest importers of Chinese motorcycles in Poland?
The crises changed a lot in the market picture, but there are some strong players like ArkusRomet, Zipp or Almot. There are many small importers as Polish people like to trade.
Poland has a rich history of motorcycle production, are there any plans to revive any of the old brands?
Actually that process started some time ago. Strong old brands like Junak or Romet are being revitalized and sales results show that it might be a good concept. But such projects take time and money, so we still need to wait to judge if it was right decision from the business point of view. Sometimes it’s easier to build the brand image from the beginning, but that also depends on the target group which you are aiming at.
Are there any motorcycle exhibitions that Chinese companies could attend to promote their products?
There is a main one in Warsaw and a few smaller in Poznań or Wrocław. But Chinese brands are already present there, as local shops or distributors use those events to be close to the public.
Do Polish motorcycle trade people come to China to see the industry?
Sometimes Poles are being called the European Chinese country. It’s because Polish people are very hard working and our GDP looked quite impressive during last decade. That could suggest that it should be easy to do business together, but reality is different. There is a language and culture barrier and I would suspect that only quite a few motorcycle professionals went to China to see factories, attend a trade show and talk about business.
Please tell ChinaMotor Magazine readers about your company and it’s goals….
Powerbike is a leading importer and distributor of parts and accessories. We represent appr. 60 producers like Arai, Fox, Sbs, RK, HJC, Held and serve customers in Poland, Czech and Slovakia. We have a little different approach and pay more attention not only to the product but to the general concept of cooperation. That’s why dealers like to work with us and appreciate our proactive approach based on the theory of constraints. Implementing this way of thinking in the entire organization was a game changer. Now we use this know how to develop export markets like Czech and Slovakia. We have very modern logistic centre and for the moment we are talking with various Asian companies about a joint venture distribution concepts in our industry.
If anyone needs information or guidance in the Polish market feel free to catch me at [email protected]
Many thanks to Marcin!