It is now supposedly the sport of the rich, golf may still have its avid practitioners but the cycling bug has certainly caught on. Rajesh Malhotra is the proprietor of Probyk and has been involved in promoting cycling in the State as well as retailing international brands like Giant, Cervelo, Merida, Lapierre and Ghost to name a few. AJIT JOHN met with him to understand the nature of the business and its possibilities in the State.
HERALD: What prompted you to get into this business?
RAJESH MALHOTRA: I was in the music business, retailing music in various physicals forms. I had five outlets around the State and I loved music. It was great but then technology changed dramatically and music could be accessed online and my business became irrelevant. I was tense, overweight and popping pills to control my blood pressure. I decided to buy a good cycle and I picked up a good German cycle gradually fell in love with it. I had moved by then to retailing books, cards and other items. It was a bit of a mixed bag and the sales were not good enough. I had to wind it up. The cycling helped me. I loved cycling in the monsoons. Goa in the monsoons is beautiful. In a short period of time I participated in a 100 km trip then 200 km and finally 300km. I was hooked. This all happened around 2012. My interest in cycling made me think, that perhaps if I market it well, there would be good scope in Goa. I started keeping cycles in part of my shop and in July 2013, I approached Giant for the dealership in Goa and it came through. It started off slowly, we had Giant and a couple of smaller brands. Giant is a leading brand, they manufacture around 10 million bikes a year. Business was slow because we were in the price bracket of Rs 20,000 plus and Goa was not ready because there was this mentality, as to how much a cycle ought to cost. As per their estimate nothing in excess of Rs 4-5000, 10,000 max. It took a while for people to understand that there was a huge difference in these cycles. Local cycles are made for kids, whereas the cycles we were retailing could be used for specific purposes like off-roading, city use and road bikes for speeding.
HERALD: How big is the market in Goa?
RM: In the price range that I operate in, I can say around 100 cycles are sold every month. This is in the price range between Rs 20,000 and over a lakh.
HERALD: How would you describe your average Goan consumer, those who want to buy the brands you represent?
RM: The Goan who is into cycling knows what he or she wants and most importantly is willing to spend money to buy it. They read up and I will say it is a very knowledge driven market, the people conduct their research. The customers for the over a lakh cycles are in their late 40’s. It may be a small market but it is a mature market
HERALD: How do you see this market evolve in the next five years?
RM: This market will undoubtedly grow. The activities we are conducting ie the cycle trips, the little events for kids will all pay off. I believe as knowledge increases, the sophistication of the bikes purchased will increase. The number of the bikes sold every month may not increase that drastically but the value of the purchase will certainly increase. It will be good years. Right now, if you ask me today because of the monsoons, it is very slow and this year it has been quite an intense monsoon but the long term viability of this business is very good.