25 years of FLYER: consolidation and new start
Dr. Franz Studer, Investment Director at EGS Beteiligungen AG and former Chairman of the Board of Directors of FLYER AG, on the challenges and successes following the take-over of FLYER.
How long have you known FLYER and have you ever experienced a FLYER e-bike for yourself? What connects you to FLYER?
To my mind, FLYER is the epitome of the electromobile bicycle. The silver “swan neck model” (C Series) opened up new worlds for standard everyday riders. I will never forget my first experience on a C FLYER in the hilly landscape of the Emmental valley. And I will also never forget the time that followed when I was able to accompany FLYER in its evolution from pioneer to a successful market participant in the mature mass market.
How would you describe FLYER? What makes FLYER special?
FLYER devoted itself to quality from the very beginning and has successfully maintained the high quality standards of its products to the present day. This has been complemented by customer-focussed innovations and a contemporary design that is clearly, but with a consistently recognisable signature, aimed at the target groups of the different segments. In short, high-quality and innovative vehicles with a modern design that spark emotional connections.
FLYER devoted itself to quality from the very beginning and has successfully maintained the high quality standards of its products to the present day.
What did EGSB find when it took over FLYER? What were the challenges and what were the successes?
As a pioneer, FLYER originally had an outstanding market position. However, in terms of design, the products had become a little outmoded by 2012 and other market participants had constructed bicycles that better reflected the spirit of the times in visual terms. The company was also not prepared for a competitive mass market, where an appealing design and short delivery times were required. We hit rock bottom in 2013 when numerous shipping containers had piled up in the transit warehouse full of material that could not be used in manufacturing as customers wanted different products. With a consistent orientation towards clear market segments and standardisation of the integrated components, the company managed to get back on a successful track. The bicycles became discernibly more modern, dealers were able to place pre-orders, and it became possible to schedule production. The pinnacle was reached when large-scale orders of the Upstreet and Uproc models by dealers and customers in 2017/2018 confirmed that FLYER had arrived in the present and that it had once again achieved an outstanding position.
What is FLYER’s role in terms of its origins in “little” Switzerland?
Swiss quality is still seen as a hallmark around the world. This claim needs to be earned every single year and only applies if the product is able to distinguish itself in terms of functionality, technology, and design. If these objectives are achieved, the customer is more than willing to pay a little more to cover the higher wages in Switzerland. We are delighted that ZEG, as the owner of the company, appreciates the positioning of FLYER as a Swiss company and has not only maintained the quality standards, but also the location of Huttwil.
Swiss quality is still seen as a hallmark around the world.
Why did EGSB sell FLYER?
In 2017, the company had regained a good position. Size is a decisive factor in a mature mass market determined by large market participants, which means that optimal purchasing conditions can only be achieved through volume. Sales also benefit from the synergies associated with a larger sales organisation. This was not possible for FLYER as a stand-alone company, and in its role as owner, EGSB was unable to offer this. We therefore reached the conclusion that FLYER needed an owner from the industry. The successful further development has shown that ZEG was the correct choice. We are grateful for this.
Can we ask you to look ahead to 2045? Where will the e-bike be and where will FLYER be?
Mobility for humans will still be changing. Electromobility and bicycles will still be in vogue which means that FLYER will continue to enjoy positive developments against this background.
What would you like to wish FLYER for its birthday?
We would like to congratulate all the employees and the management team on the occasion of the anniversary. We would like to wish the company the sensitivity required to maintain its legacy, but also the curiosity and inventive talent required to question the well-known and to innovate. We would like to wish the company every success as it continues on its way.