Lapierre, Mr. Giles LaPierre that is, was in town last week showing off their latest bikes. Great bikes, but if you live in the states you may not be familiar with the name. Lapierre is based in France, and has been in business for 60 years and 3 generations of Lapierres. They provide the rides for the FranÃ§aise des Jeux cycling team, and are also a leading manufacturer of mountain bikes. Already a major brand in Europe, they’ve decided to raise the level of their game in the US.
Gaston Lapierre, Giles’s grand father, started the business right after world war II, in 1946. The family’s been involved in the business since then, although the company was bought by the Accell Group almost 15 years ago. Since then, and starting in earnest just a few years ago, Lapierre’s been making the transition from a family run, continental business to a full fledged international corporation. Change like this is never easy but it looks like the company’s come through with flying colors.
Business wise, Lapierre caught the mountain biking wave in a big way back in the middle 90s, and is one of the leading manufacturers of mountain bikes in Europe. Since then they’ve been branching out, into road racing, sponsoring the FranÃ§aise des Jeux (French national lottery) cycling team.
The company has had some success in Europe but realized they were spending a lot of time competing with US based companies on their own turf. A couple of years ago Lapierre decided to take it to the home town (or at least home country) of brands like Specialized and Trek. When Accell acquired Seattle Bike Supply a few years ago the opportunity presented itself and Lapierre grabbed hold.
Meeting Mr. Lapierre was great, he was very enthused about his bikes and his company of course, but also genuinely friendly. I don’t doubt he was here on business but he was obviously enthused for a weekend trip up to Snoqualmie. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he’s a Snowhugger.
Lapierre’s focus in the US is bringing their particular brand of high end, high tech road and mountain bikes to our market at a good price point (See Mark’s write up for details on the line up). When I asked Giles what his expectations of the US market are he said they’re looking for organic growth here in the states. Sponsoring the French national lottery team, FranÃ§aise des Jeux, won’t hurt. Neither will there extensive experience in the mountain biking market. Based on what we saw at last week I doubt they’ll have any trouble at all making their goals.