News

French lawyer puts human face on Mavic buyout

Didier Poulmaire and team of consultants hoping to tap into Mavic's symbolic status in bid to secure ownership.

News that Mavic has been put under judicial reorganization has sent shock waves throughout the cycling industry. The historic French equipment supplier has provided the peloton with some of the best wheels for over a century, while their distinctive yellow neutral race support team is nothing short of iconic.

French lawyer Didier Poulmaire, who has worked with French swimmer Laure Manaudou as well as the Olympic Marseille soccer team, has put together a team of financial and cycling consultants that includes five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault in the hopes of convincing Lyon’s business court to allow him to take over the historic company. But he knows that the competition is stiff.

“We are going to present our project to the Social and Economic Committee (CSE), a project that we can still improve until July 10. There will then be a final hearing on July 16 before the final decision which should take place very quickly thereafter,” Poulmaire said in an interview with cyclismactu.net.

“In any case, we are starting to see the names of potential buyers appearing and we are not the favorites, far from it,” he continued. “There are large industrial groups that are present, so we are really the challenger.”

While Poulmaire’s project many be that of the challenger, he has captured the heart of the French cycling press who have championed his initiative in recent months. In many ways, Poulmaire’s effort to re-establish Mavic on the international bike market is not unlike the generations of French cyclists that have struggled with an increasingly international sport.

“The athletes are preparing for the Olympic Games, and I am preparing for the “Economic Games,” Poulmaire said. “We have a great sports streak that has opened up and that will take us to the Paris Olympics in 2024.

“The sports industry has been challenged for several years by many players and I told myself that there was a strong symbolic dimension at Mavic. The bicycle market is exploding. It is the means of mobility of tomorrow. But you have a company that is more than a hundred years old and is breaking down. So I found that it was a strong symbol and that we had to mobilize around a company like this.

“Mavic has been a player in the development of world cycling, but it is now challenged by industries coming from abroad. France cannot let go of such a jewel. I am not a buyer as such, I do not intend to take over Mavic personally, but I found it interesting to bring together people and experts whom I thought could together build a great project.”

In recent years, Mavic has been bought out on several occasions and struggled as a minor brand in the larger portfolio of international holding companies. Poulmaire hopes to change that trend.

“The women and men of Mavic need to know where they are going. They need to have faces and names in front of them. They were recently managed by an investment fund. They never really saw and knew their shareholders,” Poulmaire said. “I think we have to reassure them and put them in front of real-life people, and that’s what we’re trying to do. Not everything related to sport is a business. I’ve been trying to say that for the past twenty years. Sport is human.”

Poulmaire also understands that he needs to put together a viable business model to convince the French courts that his proposal is the most complete.

“We tried to design a project that would refocus Mavic on its strengths, notably the manufacture of wheels, and innovation,” he said. “Mavic must reclaim the market with innovation. It is really about refocusing Mavic on its foundations, on what made it strong.”