Gregory Trebaolthe founder of Easybike grouprenamed this summer Rebirth, is a lover of beautiful brands. This 40-year-old entrepreneur has bought several iconic companies over the past eight years, including the sports bike brands Matra, Lejeune and Velcan and more recently in 2022, the Coleen brand (the Hermès of electric bikes) and Clean energy, specializing in stations. bicycles.
“Velcan is the first company that we take over that is not in the electrical business,” laughs Grégory Trebaol. What interests the entrepreneur: his know-how in the French manufacture of carbon frames. This leader, a graduate of the EDC, a school for leaders and business creators, has an idea behind his head. He wants to put an end to the globalized industry and repatriate as much as possible the production of two-wheelers in France.
#1. Quality and Made in France
To revive these brands, French manufacturing and top-of-the-range products are the first strategy put forward by the entrepreneur. When he recovered the keys to the Solex brand then based in China in 2015, he hastened to record the return of the assembly of part of his bikes to his 4,100 m² workshop based in Saint-Lô, in the Channel. This good communicator even invited the Minister of Productive Recovery at the time, Arnaud Montebourg, champion of Made In France, to his factory.
The group, which works with 350 dealers in France and abroad, has the ambition to manufacture a complete electric bicycle in France within three years. It already manufactures carbon frames for three brands in Saint-Lô (Velcan, Coleen, Matra). “For example, we prefer pedals made in Grenoble rather than those made in China. These only cost 10 euro cents, but you have a deplorable carbon footprint with a product that has spent 21 days on the water,” exasperated the manager. The group, which made 15 million euros in turnover in 2021, is also working on the eco-responsibility of supplies and is trying to develop a material based on natural flax fiber, often undervalued, to replace part of the carbon fiber.
The SME, which counts 102 employees, is looking for a second site, even more important, to manufacture in larger series derailleurs, brakes, mudguards and handlebars and frames in composite materials, based on recycled material. “We gave ourselves a year to find a second industrial site that will allow us to start up fairly quickly, with staff that we will recruit easily,” explains Grégory Trebaol. A weighty argument that hits home with French consumers but also abroad. “We have recently been approached by professionals who want to make agreements with the group to distribute Coleen in China,” says the business manager.
#2. design and heritage
Grégory Trebaol also attaches importance to product design and uses their heritage to give legitimacy. “Before taking an interest in a brand to relaunch it, we are interested in what it represented at the time. For the Solex, it’s simplicity, the feeling of freedom,” confides the entrepreneur.
The rebirth of the iconic brand in the form of an electric bike thus plays on the alliance of aesthetic nostalgia and technical modernity, using the same gooseneck frame as the model released in the 1940s. old, we will never be able to satisfy the young”, admits the entrepreneur who sold more than 2,500 Solex in 2021. Rebirth has therefore launched, in parallel with the so-called timeless collection, the Origine range. A disruptive collection that can be purchased on leasing, based on the observation that the brakes on purchases for those under 30 remain the price.
The SME does not just think about the product. The group offers unexpected experiences to immerse consumers in the brand’s universe and invests 6 to 7% of the group’s turnover each year, or more than one million euros, in events. This translates into the planning of about fifty “punch” events in order to draw attention to the product in question. Rebirth notably organizes the Matra Challenge Cup Golf competition, the Matra Snow cross, or the Rock’n Solex, a music festival that honors artists from the French scene.
“We will look for our potential users at their place of leisure, on the lawns of golf courses or in ski resorts by organizing challenges”, says the boss of the Rebirth group. The Solex brand also regularly sets up pop-up cafés with DJs on the Prado beach in Marseille, and accompanies and sponsors adventurers to go around the world in solex. “To get closer to the youngest looking for challenges, we have also sponsored the 4L Trophy student raid”, adds Grégory Trebaol.
Digital also remains a crucial asset: the company works with influencers to develop its image, create emotions and a network of ambassadors. “We organized a contest with an influencer on social networks to have her followers win a Solex. In three days, we have recovered more than 10,000 active fans on Instagram,” smiles Grégory Trebaol. To hold on to the length, the group is testing a mixed solution, namely the complementarity between physical stores and online, in order to offer its customers the maintenance of bicycles in particular. A way to prove the modernity of the group.