Bianchi is soon to be the latest label to bring manufacturing back to Europe with a €40 million investment in an Italian base.
Local news sources reported last week that a new facility is aiming to be operational by August of 2022, where a daily output of between 1,000 and 1,500 completed bike units will be the goal.
Despite sourcing headaches affecting the entire bike industry, Bianchi’s hope is that investment in localised control over production will help the label quadruple its turnover quickly.
Reflecting back on a heyday period in the 80s for the brand, Scalzotto said: “We were leaders in the world with aluminum frames that the whole world envied us and brands well rooted in the country’s industrial structure. Carbon frames have never taken root in Italy, they all come from the Far East, as well as the bulk of the components, which leads us to a dependence on abroad that is no longer sustainable: with order times that now vary between 500 and 700 days, it is the right moment to recover a leadership also in technology that could be at hand.”
The proposed manufacturing base will be housed in a 10,000 square metre plot that will contain state-of-the-art robotics designed to automate some elements of production.
It is expected that the investment won’t just see new advanced machinery; a further 100 employees are likely to be brought on to take the companies Italian workforce to around 300.
In terms of carbon frame production, Bianchi reportedly has an agreement for the sourcing of equipment for vacuum production, which will occupy around 6,000 square meters of the plot. It is here that Scalzotto says operational times may stretch as the company sources the specialist skills required and awaits delivery of the equipment.
The move is said to be motivated by ongoing turbulence in the Far East where production has divested from China on the back of a trade war with the USA. This, according to the local report, has not guaranteed the same quality and reliability.
Add to that difficulties that are ever-present in shipping across the globe and other increased costs and Bianchi says that the decision has been made easier, more so by the move into electric bikes which are primarily targeted at the European customer.
Bianchi’s turnover grew from €50 million in 2018 to €75 million in 2020, figures the CEO uses to forecast the viability of hitting €120 million by the end of this year and “for next year we have a budget of 200 million,” he says. These numbers have been easier to call on the strength of forward ordering, which in the past ran between eight to 12 months, as opposed to the 18 to 20 now reported.