Dahon, the U.S. brand of folding bicycles, told its distributors at an annual meeting in Zagreb that, starting next year, it is shifting the production of bicycles intended for the European market from Asia to Bulgaria. The company has sealed a strategic partnership with Maxcom, a large-scale Bulgarian bicycle manufacturer, which will make Dahon bikes at its facility in Plovdiv. Production for Dahon is to be set up in a separate unit, with dedicated assembly lines and specialized staff.

Established in 1996, Maxcom opened a plant with an annual capacity of about 500,000 bicycles in 2007. It makes bicycles under its own brand, Sprint, as well as many other brands. Owned by Maxim Mitkov, Maxcom reached an agreement with Maniatopoulos of Greece, the maker of Ideal bikes, which had registered the Sprint brand throughout Europe. Under the deal, Maxcom bought rights to the name in all European countries except for Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia. Sprint now makes up about 65 percent of Maxcom's production, compared with 35 percent for other brands.

Dahon said that the shift would improve the quality and delivery times of its bicycles in the European market. Dahon bicycles due to be sold in other international markets, Dahon will continue to be made at the company's main factory in Shenzhen, China.

The company has plans for a completely new factory to be opened in central China, with an initial production capacity of 700,000 bike units per year. Another facility, near Beijing, produces Dahon bikes for the Chinese market, which continues to yield strong growth for the company.

Separately, Dahon had to reshuffle its management after the departure of Joshua Hon, son of the company's founder and chief executive, David Hon, who left to set up his own bicycle business. As head of global sales and marketing, Joshua Hon had been steering the Dahon brand for the last two decades. He will introduce his new brand of folding bikes in Taiwan later this week, with several other former members of Dahon's international team.

Eddie Eccleston, a long-time industry executive, is taking up the global sales and marketing job at Dahon. He was recruited by the company last year to lead a private label spin-off. Eccleston was formerly the managing director of British Eagle. He organized a management buyout at Ideal Cycles and was a consultant for several other companies. Furthermore, Henry Hon, co-founder of Dahon and brother of David Hon, has returned to the group as vice president and board member.