Quick Analysis of Bell Aquisition of Giro Helmets

Bell Sports 8 years ago was responsible for making and selling helmets.

Around 1989 Bell bought a then independent company Rhode Gear, which was the second largest bicyle helmet seller after Bell. At that time Bell still made the V-1 Pro helemt and had 34% market share in the bicycle helmet market.

Rhode Gear prior to being bought by Bell had a 17% market share. At the time the primary reason cited by Bell employees for the Rhode Gear aquisition was to give Bell Sports a total market share of 51+% of the bicycle market. Bell at the time said that they would continue to have Rhode Gear selling the same helemts and leave them autonomous so the two while competed.

The next season Rhode Gear sold helmets that had the same name but physically they were different. They were standard Bell helmets with different Lycra and micro tops on them put in Rhode Gear labeled boxes.

The next year pretty much the same thing happened. And the next season there were no more Rhode Gear helmets, just Bell. The reason for the aquisition, (buying a competitor to increase market share under two names) was now gone, but Bell held onto much of the Rhode Gear market.

The next largest helmet makerafter Bell at that time was American Recreation, which you will know through the Mongoose bicycle brand name sold by their Service Cycle division. American Recreation of Commack, New York is a large supplier of helmets to mass merchandisers of the Wal-Mart, Price-Costco, Target sort. While Bell through its BSI label had tried to into the mass merchandiser market American Recreation really had it tied up.

Last year Bell Sports and American Recreation "merged" really Bell traded their stock American Recreation and folded it in.

In the helmet market, in 1995 the Bell's largest competitor by market share and presence was Giro. Following the previous examples, Bell has probably offered their stock to the present Giro owners.

The remaining competitors in the United States for any share of the bicycle helmet market number about 12. The combined sales of all of them, which includes Specialized, total less than 14% of the market. They can now behave like a monopoly, and if they can get Specialized to behave properly, the two of them will have pretty much total control of the US bicycle helmet market.

When you think about Giro professing to remain in business and separate...keep the Rhode Gear example in mind.

Did I mention that Bell Sports also owns Blackburn Designs and Vistalite?

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