My name is Andrés Martin-Birner, and I founded Bike24 with two friends in Dresden 20 years ago. Cycling has always been my great passion, even as an athlete, and this is exactly the attitude we want to convey with our company. In my view, passion is one of the most important foundations for success in the entire sports business. And it is precisely this "burning" for the topic of biking and for our customers that is one of the most important prerequisites internationally when hiring new employees in our rapidly growing company.
Shortly after our anniversary, we opened our first Service Point outside of Dresden at the beginning of July. At this location, we offer our customers repair services, advice, bike sizing and pickup of ordered bikes and other products from our range. In this way, we combine online trade with offline service and want to be the "Place2be" for our growing Berlin community. Also new this year: In March, we launched an omnichannel image campaign for the first time, positioning ourselves as the biking brand for all those who who want to make fewer compromises when shopping online for bicycles and spend more time in the saddle.
For me, team spirit is also particularly important for the success of a company. Since the company was founded in 2002, we have run it together for a long time in a collegial team of three or four. Our IPO in 2021 brought about a major change, and I have only been CEO since then. Naturally, we will therefore be looking in particular to see whether we can continue to work together as before. I am firmly convinced that you can only win as a team. I see myself in the role of a serving and coaching conductor. As someone who can also make a mistake and admit it.
This is also something I want to pass on to my entire team: honesty and openness in our company and towards customers and clients are another important basis for success. The message 'Even with us, things sometimes go wrong' is important for building trust. Then, for example, a voucher is given as an apology. The large number of loyal customers shows us that we are on the right track with the basic virtues of passion, team spirit, honesty and openness - in addition to our huge range, fast delivery and attractive prices.
Transporting this DNA of our company internally in pandemic times is a real challenge and has caused me many a headache. We have grown extremely in Corona times, in the last two years. I only know most of the new team members virtually. To convey decisions, you have to explain a lot in the virtual meetings. So it was all the nicer that after the Corona restrictions were largely lifted, we were able to get together with the staff both at a small barbecue and on the occasion of our 20th birthday. The anniversary party was even attended by many of the employees' families, so that we ended up with over 550 guests.
Corona hit us like most companies due to supply chain disruptions. It was not possible to call the wholesaler ad hoc beforehand and order a large number of bikes immediately because of the high demand for bikes. But the port closures in China, the regional lockdowns or even the giant freighter stuck in the Suez Canal have exacerbated the situation. We were able to compensate for this in part through long-term planning. We also benefit from long-term partnerships. However, the situation that most manufacturers and component suppliers in our industry are based in Asia will not change overnight. There are more bicycle manufacturers from Europe again, but the international dependency is high. It is therefore important to act flexibly and offer customers the greatest possible choice under these conditions.
Despite all the problems, Corona, as well as the current rising costs at gas stations, have also helped to accelerate this shift toward sustainable transportation by bicycle. Many people have switched to bicycles. There are now more than 80 million bicycles in Germany - the same number as there are people in this country. A third of them use their bikes regularly. But the megatrends toward greater sustainability and a new kind of mobility are only just beginning. A great deal still needs to happen in terms of energy sources and the circular economy. And the general conditions for cycling must also improve both nationally and internationally: for example, through safer bike paths or special bike garages.
However, the expansion of the infrastructure must not be a countermove between the different modes of transport. Cars are still needed, too, for example in rural areas. When you open up pop-up bike paths, you must not forget the interests of the retail trade. That's the only way to get widespread acceptance. Great goals can only be achieved by working together.
Bike24 has a lot of ideas to contribute to the change besides opening its first service point outside of Dresden. Attractive rental or leasing offers as well as an extended offline aftersales offer to further improve the experience of buying a bike online are interesting areas. In addition, after a successful test phase with the Service Point in Berlin, we could roll this concept out further in Germany.
Always putting customers first is perhaps the most important secret for a successful company. For an internationally growing company like us, this also includes addressing them in their native language. That's why we recently launched localized stores in France and Italy and plan to expand further in Europe. This is also part of what our advertising campaign with the slogan "Less compromise, more..." is meant to express. Our customers should simply have more time for their passion. Cycling.