The onset of the pandemic not only radically changed our working habits, but it transformed the way we move around our towns and cities.
More and more people are turning to cycling for its convenience and environmentally-friendly status, as one of the lowest carbon-per-kilometre modes of transport. In consequence, market demand has increased exponentially, challenging both manufacturers’ supply chains and their production capacity. Planet Bike, a Serbian company specialising in the production and sale of bicycles and the distribution of other sports equipment across a vast wholesale network, found itself facing higher demand than ever.
During a particularly busy 2020, in which the businesses struggled to maintain pace with the heightened European demand, Planet Bike recognised that this was its moment to expand. Immediately it sought to increase its existing capacity by building a new factory and storage space.
It also planned to purchase new equipment in order to reach a production figure of 200,000 bicycles annually.
Notably, the new project would also enable Planet Bike to start manufacturing e-bicycles, latching onto a nascent market driven by broader societal sustainability trends.
Support in this venture came via UniCredit Bank Serbia, who in November last year granted Planet Bike a long-term investment loan of €2.2 million from the KFW rural credit line program, as well as working capital to the tune of €1 million in the form of a revolving loan.
UniCredit’s financing and a grant received from the Serbian government soon led to the planning of a new production facility in Krusevac, where state-of-the-art robotic technology will be used in the manufacture and installation of certain bicycle components. Undoubtedly, the crown jewel of the new site is the 4,150 sq m operations hall in which each part of the production process will be centralised, including a fully automatic line for the painting of frames, forks, and other key components.
Alongside the benefits associated with automating parts of the commercial process, UniCredit’s help to finance the new factory will, most importantly, help to benefit the wider community. The factory will bolster local employment through the creation of 70 new jobs, with the company publicly stating its ambition to hire additional engineers in the near future.
A modern company with truly modern aspirations, Planet Bike is now on the precipice of becoming the dominant bicycle manufacturer in Serbia, as well as the first mover in the production of e-bicycles – a market that is expected to grow by 200% globally by 2030.
The annual capacity will be 300,000 bicycles and electric bicycles, mostly for export to the EU. Unicredit Bank fully understood our ideas and potential, supporting us as a partner by optimally monitoring investments.
Lazar Čvoro, Managing Director