With another major acquisition, the Dutch family company Pon Holdings is driving its steep rise to become one of the leading global bicycle providers.

The little-known in Germany company has bought a conglomerate of bicycle brands within ten years - beginning in 2011 with the acquisition of "Gazelle" and, as a milestone, the purchase of the then largest German bicycle supplier Derby Cycle with brands such as "Kalkhoff" and "Focus".

Klaus Max Smolka

Editor in business.

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Now Pon is taking over the bicycle subsidiary of the Canadian conglomerate Dorel Industries for one billion Canadian dollars (700 million euros).

Pon brings the globally known brand “Cannondale” into its portfolio, as well as the US brand “Schwinn” and the BMX bike providers “Mongoose” and “GT”.

The turnover increases by two thirds: In addition to the current 1.5 billion euros - 70 percent of which is accounted for by the business with electric motor-assisted vehicles - the equivalent of around one billion euros in turnover from the Canadians is added.

Behind Pon is one of the richest families in the Netherlands.

The core business includes car trading, including imports from Volkswagen.

Together with VW and the asset manager Attestor, the company is currently taking over the car rental company Europcar for 2.5 billion euros.

Participation in Swapfiets

Looking back a long way, Pon started out as a bicycle retailer in Amersfoort at the end of the 19th century.

But they left the industry and only returned with two transactions in 2011: The company acquired the manufacturer Gazelle, which is strongly represented in the Netherlands, from the financial investor Gilde.

Shortly thereafter, the transaction followed, which was to create the broad basis of the current bicycle empire: Pon bid for the northern German Derby Cycle, which had only gone public less than a year earlier.

The idea behind the strategic return to the bicycle: Pon wanted to become a more broadly based "mobility company", it was said. There was particular hope that bicycles with electric motors - e-bikes - would establish themselves on the market: a hope that has been confirmed. As a side point of the double transaction in 2011, Gazelle returned to a house with the old owner, because the company had previously belonged to Derby Cycle.

In 2019, Pon finally took over the Dutch cargo bike specialist Urban Arrow. The decision to invest in Swapfiets through the venture capital unit Ponooc - the long-term rental of bicycles that has spread to urban streets and cycle paths in the Netherlands and Germany in a short period of time - shows that the company has a broad strategic approach, recognizable by the blue front tires . Swapfiets is actually a natural opponent for bike manufacturers and dealers; after all, the subscription model discourages customers from buying and repairing their own vehicles. But: Swapfiets can be supplied by the Pon subsidiary Gazelle, even if you design your own bikes and use your own brand.

Pon has established itself as the second Dutch bicycle conglomerate alongside the listed Accell ("Winora", "Batavus", "Sparta", "Babboe").

In 2017, the family even tried to acquire this domestic competitor.

Accell entered into negotiations, but broke them off, much to Pons's displeasure.

Keywords: pon, company, dutch, gazelle, family business, bicycle, derby cycle, bicycle industry, bicycle market, car trade, bicycle giant, swapfiets, one, europcar, dorel industries