Founded in Japan in 1921, Shimano is best known as a maker of bicycle parts for professional cyclists. However, the majority of its revenue comes from parts for everyday bicycles, ranging from gears to brake levers to disc brakes and hub dynamos. The company is also an important player in the global market of fishing rods and reels and has a relatively young but growing business in cycling soft goods like shoes, clothing and foot stretchers for rowers.
Europe is Shimano’s biggest market, accounting for around 60 percent of its worldwide sales. The European branch employs about 700 people across the regional head office in Eindhoven, the logistics center in Nunspeet and the local marketing and sales offices throughout Europe. The head office at the High Tech Campus is home to a little over 200 employees. But the building can hold up to 300 people, which shows the company’s growth ambitions.
Clear instructions from Japan
When Shimano outgrew its previous European head office in Nunspeet, Marc van Rooij received clear instructions from the company’s corporate president: “Find a location where Shimano Europe can maintain its position as the market leader for the next 25 years. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Portugal, Switzerland, the Netherlands, or Finland: just find the best location.”
The retention of talent played a significant role in Shimano’s decision to stay in the Netherlands. In his search for the best location, Van Rooij got in touch with a number of regional development agencies in the Netherlands. He was particularly pleased with the support he received from BOM Foreign Investments.
Nothing was too much trouble in helping us complete our business case to move to Brabant. And when we expressed our preference for Eindhoven, BOM immediately sprang into action to introduce us to the right people.Marc van Rooij, President - Shimano Europe
Life is good for expats
The dynamic environment of the Brainport region – which includes the High Tech Campus and Eindhoven – has made it much easier for Shimano to find the right talent and business partners. “Since we arrived here, we’ve had no trouble recruiting great people,” says Van Rooij. “There are many highly skilled expats here whose partners work at some of the region’s leading names like ASML, Philips, VDL and NXP. The number of nationalities at our head office has increased to 17 from about 12 in Nunspeet, which really shows the international appeal of the region.”
Life is good for expats in Eindhoven. Van Rooij: “The other day I had lunch with an expat, and he said he’s enjoying it much more than he had anticipated. Eindhoven is a relatively small city, but the facilities are great and there’s a lot going on culturally.”
Two years after the move, Shimano is already benefiting from the thriving local ecosystem around sports and technology. Van Rooij: “One of the most promising developments in our business is the integration of parts for e-bikes with wearable technology and products that focus on the health-conscious consumer. The Brainport region is home to many technology companies that can play a role in this space. We are pleased to be in contact with some of them to collaborate on new concepts that help shape the future of mobility.”
Shimano in numbers
- Founded: 1921 in the Japanese port city of Sakai
- Employees: 11,600 (as of end of 2018)
- Revenue: € 2.8 billion in 2018
- Activities in Brabant: European head office, product development
- Workforce in Brabant: 200 FTE in 2019