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French lawyer searching to save Mavic

Business lawyer and triathlete working to save iconic brand that stands as last vestige of a once-powerful French bicycle industry.

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News that Mavic was recently 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.

But the brand that has pushed the edge of innovation decade after decade, from the aluminum rim to the disc brake, has nevertheless seen its sales and numbers diminishing recently, with some sources saying that the company has taken nearly a 50 percent hit in sales over the last five years. This, coupled with a string of sales and buyouts lacking in investment has simply eroded much of the brand’s strength.

But French business lawyer Didier Poulmaire announced this week that he is actively pursuing a solution.

Poulmaire, who has worked with French swimmer Laure Manaudou and played an active role in the sale of the l’Olympique de Marseille football team to American millionaire Frank McCourt, is an active triathlete and faithful fan of the brand.

“The economic difficulties encountered by Mavic represent for me an opportunity to mobilize economic actors to participate in ‘the world after,’ which we have been talking about so much lately,” Poulmaire told the French sports daily, L’Equipe.

For Poumaire, Mavic is nothing short of a historic French brand, and one worth saving. “To succeed in saving ‘the Mavic soldier’ sends a clear signal that France is interested in supporting its industrial tool.”

There is a hint of nostalgia, not to mention sheer pride in Poumaire’s initiative. After all Mavic — whose full name is Manufacture d’articles vélocipédiques Idoux et Chanel — is in many ways the last vestige of a once-powerful French bicycle industry that flourished in cities like Saint-Etienne and Lyon. But while other historic brands like Simplex, Mafac and Manufrance, have long since evaporated, Mavic has continued to be an industry player that inspires confidence at the highest levels.

Mavic has been at the forefront of wheel technology through its 132-year history. Photo: James Startt

Poulmaire, who is working with several ex-professionals hopes to work quickly and to “finalize a project that participates in saving the genius of the men and women that have made the ‘yellow blood,’ of the brand.” And he has to work quickly, as financial candidates interested in taking over the company must submit their proposals in a Lyon business court on June, 2.

Obviously time is not on the side of the company that was founded on the centennial of the French Revolution in 1889, and the economic impact of coronavirus crisis only complicates matters. But as the more than 200 employees await their fate, they are showing no sign of giving in.

In a recent announcement on the Mavic LinkedIn page last week the brand stated, “In our 132-year history we have not experienced such an impact and business strain on our operation in such a short period of time [Ed. a reference to Covid-19], however we are pleased to announce an operational return as of May 11, 2020 across our production platforms in Europe, with an increase in our supply chain and logistics operations, regional sales teams and customer service. This process will be a staggered and staged approach ensuring the safety of our employees, our suppliers and our clients.”

In addition, they announced that “as part of this process of re-start, and taking into consideration the extended closure of many of our retailers, we will be introducing our new MY21 wheel range with improved simplification of the range, improved price points, quality and technology as of September 2020, to coincide with the new proposed dates of the Tour de France.”