Organisation and employees
We structure our operations and processes as efficiently and responsibly as possible. We constantly balance business and commercial interests against the interests of people and the environment.
Directed by the group
We continued to bolster functional competencies at group level in 2017. The supply chain team is now at full capacity. We have changed procurement and planning processes dramatically and these are now coordinated and directed centrally. In addition, we hired more expertise in fields such as project management, IT and e-commerce.
In the context of the revised strategy, we launched a number of new projects in 2017. For instance, we began implementation of a group-wide IT platform, Accell@work, and launched the construction of a CMS data management system across all our brands to make the optimum use of the potential of our omni-channel strategy. We also made initial preparations for the launch of a centrally managed organisational structure for bicycle parts and accessories.
In 2017, we also took the first steps towards the introduction of a group-wide function-evaluation method for functions not covered by the collective labour agreement. The broad roll-out of a business simulation event is helping us to encourage new ways of collaborating and dealing with change processes in a creative and inspiring way.
To improve Accell’s response to changes in the market, the group (partly) replaced the management teams at our local companies in North America, the United Kingdom and Germany. At the end of 2017, Ton Anbeek took the helm as the group’s new CEO to further shape and lead the transition of the group.
Increasing the sustainability of processes
More centralised management also means a tighter grip on making processes within Accell Group more sustainable. We have a number of ongoing programmes on this front.
Efficiency in energy consumption
Most of the energy we consume is used in assembly, spray painting bikes and for lighting and heating production locations and warehouses. In addition, we consume energy to transport people and parts and to distribute our products. Our production processes have now been structured to ensure that machines do not use any unnecessary electricity.
In 2017, we conducted energy audits at our larger production hubs and distribution centres. The energy audits serve as the basis for the reduction and greenification of our energy consumption, or for adjustments to previously launched initiatives.
Last year, we ran audits at a number of production hubs and distribution centres to identify opportunities and the investments required to make the switch to alternative energy sources, such as solar power and residual heat from the ovens in our paint shops.
In addition to the use of alternative energy sources, we also devote attention to how employees can help to reduce our energy consumption, for instance through internal awareness campaigns and the sharing of guidelines and instructions.
We measure the effects of these programmes on our energy consumption and our CO2 emissions on an annual basis in line with the GRI G4 guidelines. The table below includes all energy sources the organisation uses itself, so including (purchased) electricity, natural gas and any other fuels.
In 2017, our total energy consumption expressed in Terajoules was slightly higher. However, our CO2 emissions as a result of electricity use and fuel consumption were slightly lower, but we failed to realise our target of reducing our annual CO2 emissions by 1.5%, as these were down by only 108 tonnes (0.9%).
The assembly and painting of bicycles are processes that generate relatively little waste. Our programme for waste processing and reduction is aimed at maximising the separation of waste before it leaves our plants and is transported for reuse and/or recycling.
The Accell Group companies register data on waste flows at a local level. Starting in 2017, they receive support from a European partner for the registration with local and national authorities. This means we can ensure that we always operate in line with national and local legislation and regulations. We benchmark the outcome of any measurements to identify the best methods, so our local companies can exchange best practices and keep learning from each other.
Accell Group has launched various initiatives in the past to reduce the amount of waste it produces and these continued and had an impact in 2017:
- Waste water purification. Since 2016, all paint residues are filtered out of the water used in the paint shops of our production facility in the Netherlands. The water purification installation ensures that the water used is clean when it is returned to the environment. A similar water purification installation was taken into use at our production facility in Turkey in 2017.
- Use of waste compactors. Various production plants within the group use plastic and cardboard compactors. We also installed smaller presses in various locations in the Netherlands in 2017. This reduces the volume of waste to 20% of the original quantity, which results in a greater quantity of waste per container and a considerable reduction in waste transports. The compactors also mean employees no longer have to dismantle boxes themselves, which saves them a lot of time.
We monitor the impact of this on our waste reduction on an annual basis both in terms of weight and in CO2 equivalents.
In 2017, the overall environmental impact from waste declined by 252 tonnes of CO2 equivalents, which is equivalent to a waste reduction of around 12% per bicycle. This reduction was partly the result of adjustments to our water purification installation at our production facility in Turkey. It should also be noted that the environmental impact was higher in 2016, due to the one-off impact of the removal of a filtering installation and a recalculation of the residual waste at our Dutch production facility.
Making packaging more sustainable
The bicycle industry uses large quantities of packaging to protect its products, and that includes us and our suppliers.
In our efforts to make packaging more sustainable, we have developed various initiatives which we continued in 2017:
- Replacing our own packaging made from fossil sources. Our own programme is aimed at replacing packaging materials from fossil sources with renewable materials. In other words, we use less plastic and more packaging based on paper and organic materials. In addition to the environmental impact, factors such as weight, stackability, uniformity, look and feel, regulations, costs and of course optimum product protection also play a role in the development of the right packaging. We benchmark the amount of packaging per bicycle internally, which produces a constant flow of new ideas on how to optimise the packaging process.
- Guidelines for incoming packaging from suppliers. With the aid of a packaging guideline, we also try to encourage suppliers to reduce their packaging volumes and to use renewable materials. Since 2017, the contacts on this front run via our supply chain organisation, which means the subject of packaging can be incorporated directly in the negotiations and agreements with suppliers. However, we have learned from experience that it is difficult for large international suppliers to deliver tailor-made solutions, even for a large client such as Accell Group.
Accell Group monitors the results of these initiatives in the annual measurement of the packaging we have used, calculated per bicycle and measured in CO2 equivalents.
In 2017, the overall environmental impact from packaging declined by 370 tonnes measured in CO2 equivalents. However, calculated per bicycle the impact increased by 9%. There are two separate reasons for these conflicting figures. Due to a reduction in the number of bicycles produced, the environmental impact was distributed across a smaller base. In addition, the packaging we use for parts and accessories is also included in the calculations and expressed per bicycle. The growth in our P&A activities led to an increase in the overall packaging volume, which has a strongly negative impact on the KPI per bicycle.
With a reduction of 6%, we just failed to meet the combined target of an annual 2-4% reduction in waste and packaging, measured per bicycle.
We will reconsider the reporting method so it provides a more realistic picture of the realised results.
The products we develop guarantee years of cycling pleasure, but they do inevitably reach the end of their useful lives and are written off. Accell believes it is important to provide the consumer with good information and an opportunity to dispose of their bicycle in the correct manner.
The vast majority of any bicycle consists of metals, including high-grade aluminium. Post-collection sorting makes it relatively easy to separate these metals from the waste flow. Since there is sufficient demand for metals and secondary aluminium, these products find their way into a variety of new applications. Bike tyres can also be recycled.
The collection of discarded e-bike batteries is another key area of attention for Accell. Together with organisations in Germany (GRS), Belgium (Bebat) and the Netherlands (Stibat – where Accell Group has a seat on the board), we are working on setting up and improving systems for the collection and responsible disposal of bicycle batteries. The batteries are collected via specialist retailers and following disassembly the parts are shipped to raw materials manufacturers and the base metals industry. We actively encourage and inform our dealer network to facilitate the collection of batteries.
With the rise of new user models and the shift from ownership to use, a growing number of bicycles will eventually find their way back to the manufacturers. We are proactively participating in working groups, primarily via CONEBI, in which we discuss indirect waste flows, environmental legislation and (future) applications that are linked to the creation of a circular economy.
Culture and diversity
Accell Group is a multinational company with operations in 18 countries and more than 40 different nationalities. The group has an open business culture, with room for people with very different origins and backgrounds, in terms of gender, educational levels, nationality, age and sexual orientation. We do our utmost to create a working environment in which everyone feels at home and that offers room for personal ambition and development.
Many of our employees share a passion for bicycles, whether they design, produce or sell them. This automatically creates a very high level of engagement. The bicycle, the design and the technology are a constant topic of conversation across the group and constitute a major binding factor not only within the company but outside the company, too. We have countless examples of colleagues going out on (training) cycle rides and to competitive cycling events together.
That passion creates a unique connection that we consider one of our strengths. At the same time, we need to make sure it does not lead to an inward-looking focus. We are fully focused on consumers and we will also have to adapt our cooperation as a team and our individual way of working to that focus. Success on this front lies in the small but certainly not insignificant details.
A good employer
Within the group, Accell Group has multiple programmes that build on our open corporate culture, passion for the product and our ambition to be an attractive employer with room for entrepreneurship, personal development and growth.
Talent and leadership development
For a number of years now we have been devoting extra attention to talent development and leadership within the group. Not only do we want to find the best people to fill current vacancies, we also want to recruit tomorrow’s leaders today. In 2016, we launched the internal programme ‘Talent Review’. This helps us to identify promising talents in our organisation and prepare them for a management role in the group, which includes suitable coaching and training courses.
If we are to execute our new strategy successfully, it is crucial for us to have the right competencies in-house, for instance in areas such as IT, data engineering and e-commerce. To that end, we recruited many new talents at group and local level in 2017.
Our products are also increasingly complex and require more expertise in the field of advanced software, connectivity and electrical engineering. We are therefore raising our investments in know-how, for instance, by increasing the average number of training hours per employee to 15 in 2018.
With an average of 12.1 training hours per FTE, we achieved our target of 10 hours in 2017, but we are raising the bar for 2018.
Increasing employee satisfaction
We want to focus more on employee satisfaction as a group. We are convinced that a pleasant and stimulating working environment with personal attention for our employees creates a strong bond with the company and greater engagement in the realisation of our shared ambition. This is why we offer our people the opportunity to give something back to society at their own initiative and based on their passion for cycling.
In 2016, we conducted our first employee satisfaction survey. This was a pilot project at three local companies, which together represent 12% of the group’s total number of employees. The response rate was high at 80%, which is also indicative of the level of engagement.
Based on the successful pilot, we decided to start conducting the survey across the whole of Accell Group and we made the preparations for the survey in 2017. The first group-wide survey will be conducted in the first half of 2018 and we will then repeat the survey every two years.
Improving health and safety
The health and safety of our employees is a priority for Accell Group. Our production plants and warehouses are the locations with the highest chances of an accident. We therefore devote considerable attention on the work floor to accident-prevention and providing clear instructions for the safe operation of machines and tools and how to lift heavy items responsibly.
All our locations comply with national health and safety legislation and regulations. Every company has someone specifically responsible for health and safety matters, and this person monitors compliance with regulations and devotes attention to additional improvements to health and safety aspects. This includes matters such as ergonomic working postures, prevention of RSI complaints and dealing with work pressure.
Accell Group wants to be a trendsetter in the bicycle industry when it comes to a sustainable and responsible design for our production processes. To this end, we focus on aspects such as using the most state-of-the-art and most employee-friendly assembly and painting techniques.
In addition to a healthy and safe working environment, we also stimulate awareness among our employees in the broadest sense, as well as encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
We encourage our employees to choose sustainable and healthy ways to commute to work. Our objective is for more than 50% of our employees to use a collective and/or sustainable mode of transport to commute to work. In 2017, 59% of our employees used a sustainable mode of transport for their daily commute, compared with 57% in 2016.
Absenteeism as a result of illness declined to 3.73% in 2017. Absenteeism as a result of accidents rose to 0.13% in 2017. It should be noted that these were all minor incidents. Although no major accidents occurred and the percentage is relatively low, safety and accident prevention remain a key priority. After all, every accident is one too many.
Participation and representation
Within the group we make sure that employees can have their say. We want the most open and transparent dialogue possible with our employees' representative bodies. In the Netherlands, Germany and France, representation is largely organised by means of the companies' own works councils.
In 2017, we worked on setting up a works council for our employees at group level, a process which we will formalise in 2018. We also maintained contacts with the trade unions at various levels in the group throughout the year. Of our total workforce, 64% are covered by a collective labour agreement.
Koga E-Xite N8
Award: Red Dot Award
The e-bike Koga E-Xite N8 combines a high performance with sportiness and an elegant look. The particularly smooth welded aluminium frame integrates brake cables and derailleur gears, such as the low maintenance Shimano Nexus 8 speed premium internal gear hub, as well as lighting cables and electric components, thus keeping them protected from the weather. The high-quality Koga Feathershock fork suspension and powerful Bosch motor, positioned in the centre of the bicycle, ensure optimal weight distribution and a good ride.