Bike maker Accell Group, which includes the traditional Dutch Batavus and Sparta brands, is cutting between 100 and 150 jobs at its Heerenveen factories, because some production is being shifted to Hungary and Turkey.
Accell, bought by venture capital group KKR 18 months ago, has a workforce of 3,700 worldwide, including some 320 at two plants in the Frisian town. They will now be merged and management says the job cuts are needed to simplify the distribution chain and to improve the company’s competitive position.
But the union says it fears that the days of the Heerenveen plant are now numbered. “After KKR took the company over, there was talk of the Heerenveen location becoming a ‘high end’ factory,” FNV Metaal leader Erik Kotters told the AD. “But now you can almost talk of ‘the end’ of Accell in the Netherlands.”
Although the Heerenveen plant is now supposed to focus on the production of expensive cargo bikes and the Koga Miyata brand, without investment in new production processes, the union says there will soon be another reorganisation round.
“We want to get around the table with the Accell management as soon as possible to find out about their plans, and we want to make a decent social plan for the workers who will lose their jobs,” Kotters said.
The Netherlands may have an estimated 23 million bikes for its 17 million plus inhabitants but Dutch manufacturers actually make very few two wheelers, according to figures published by European statistics agency Eurostat last year.
In 2022, 14.7 million bikes were built in the European Union, a 10% rise on 2021, but the Netherlands comes in ninth place on the list of EU manufacturers.
Portugal heads the list with 2.7 million bikes, followed by Romania (2.6 million) and Italy (2.5 million). In the Netherlands, Dutch bike makers produced some 415,000 bikes while Estonia and Ireland built no bikes at all.
KKR bough Accell in 2022 for €1.56 billion or €58 per share, and delisted the firm a the end of the year.
The group’s previous shareholdings in the Netherlands have included Hema and the V&D department store group. Today the company has interests in five Dutch firms as well as Accell: Q-Park, holiday park company Roompot, IT group Exact, drinks firm Refresco and Upfield, a Unilever spin off focusing on margarine.
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