Sonny Inbaraj Krishnan recently caught up with Andy Lim, manager of Giant Cambodia, to talk about incorporating cycling into the lifestyle of Cambodians.
Good Times2: When did you become manager of Giant Cambodia?
Andy Lim: I was sent by my family to study business management in the East Los Angeles College, in the United States, in 2001. I came back to Cambodia in 2004, after I completed my Bachelor’s degree.
My father had a second hand bicycle business and we used to get container loads of them from China and Japan. We didn’t have any control over our suppliers and they just filled the containers with whatever stock they had on hand.
It’s quite by accident that we discovered the market for high-end cycles.
We found that the branded second-hand bicycles, like Giant, that were included in the containers actually sold quite well in Cambodia. That set me thinking and I discussed with the family on how to diversify the business so that we could sell more high-end branded bicycles. I guess that started the ball rolling.
Good Times2: Giant has now overtaken brands like Trek and Cannondale in Cambodia. What has been your strategy for that to happen?
Andy Lim: We always look after our customers and I think we offer the best after-sales service in the country. Our customers can get their Giant bikes serviced for free in any of our stores. In Phnom Penh we have four stores – at Chamkar Mon, Toul Kork, Toul Tom Poung, and Bak Tuk, near the Phnom Penh International University.
Good Times2: Do you have plans to expand to the provinces?
Andy Lim: We’re looking at expanding to Battambang city. Battambang province is fast becoming a hub for tourists. We have dealers in Siem Reap, and they are also stocking Giant bikes. So we have no plans to open a separate outlet in the city.
It’s quite amazing that 10 years ago, only expats rode high-end branded bicycles. But now Cambodian people also enjoy riding them. It’s all a lifestyle thing.
Good Times2: How is Giant Cambodia promoting cycling as a sport in the kingdom?
Andy Lim: We are partnering with a few cycling companies, like Flying Bikes and Specialized, to organise events and weekend rides. One important event is the Angkor Wat Bike Race and Ride held in partnership with the Angkor Wat Half-Marathon, normally held in early December.
There is great potential for cycling to be taken seriously as a sport in Cambodia. For one, the country’s economy is doing well and more Cambodians will be able to afford high-end branded cycles to take part in road and mountain bike races. The government is also doing a good job in promoting sports for health. Even Prime Minister Hun Sen is encouraging youth to take up cycling, and that really helps our cause.
Good Times2: Talking about the government, how do you think policy makers could help make cycling a popular activity?
Andy Lim: Let first point out that about 80 percent of my customers buy bicycles for weekend rides. Most of them take the ferry from Nagaworld to the other bank of the Tonle Sap to ride in the countryside.
Currently there is a lot of development going on in Phnom Penh city. So obviously, there is congestion and it would be very unpleasant to cycle. For starters, I think policy makers could encourage the building of cycle paths in residential areas so that people could cycle safely, something like what has been done in Camko City. The Phnom Penh Municipal Council could also build cycle paths in certain parts of the city to encourage people to leave their cars behind and ride bicycles instead.
Good Times2: Is Giant Cambodia also supporting the national cycling team?
Andy Lim: The national team has five cyclists and four of them are riding Giant cycles. Giant Cambodia sponsors 50 percent of the cost of their cycles.
Good Times2: Finally what is Giant Cambodia’s vision for the country?
Andy Lim: My vision is to see more Cambodians, especially the young ones, ride bicycles on the street. I also would like to see more people biking to work.Giant Cambodia would also like to see more market players so that we could collaborate together to make cycling the number one sport in the country.