Despite restrictions across the world in response to Covid-19, interest in bicycles and fishing boosted demand for Shimano’s products. The Japanese company’s sales in 2020 were up by 4.1 percent from 2019 to 378,040 million yen (€2.98bn-$3.61bn), while net income increased by 22.5 percent to ¥63,472 million (€501.2m-$606.5m).

The gross margin inched up 1.8 percentage points to 40.5 percent and the company’s operating income gained 21.6 percent to ¥82,701 million (€653.1m-$790.3m).

In the bicycle components segment, Shimano’s revenues rose by 2.7 percent to ¥297,777 million (€2.35bn-$2.84bn) and operating earnings climbed by 18.4 percent to ¥68,494 million (€541.0m-$654.5m).

The group said that the demand for bicycles began to rapidly increase all over the world from early spring, as cycling was widely adopted as a form of recreation and exercise, as well as a mode of transportation with a lower risk of infection. In addition, centering around Europe, subsidies to encourage the purchase of bicycles and policies to build infrastructures such as bike lanes have contributed to the cycling boom. Under such circumstances, retail sales of bicycles and related products recovered dramatically in overseas markets including Europe, North America and China. As supply could often not keep up with the rapid increase in demand, each country saw shortages in distributor inventories. In the Japanese market, although there were no evident signs of a big cycling boom, retail sales for cross bikes and e-bikes remained solid, Shimano said. The new Deore MTB components continued to do well.

The group’s fishing tackle segment grew by 9.7 percent to ¥79,907 million (€631.0m-$763.6m) and its operating income surged by 39.6 percent to ¥14,264 million (€112.6m-$136.3m).

In a context of Covid restrictions, fishing regained attention as an outdoor leisure activity and demand for fishing products increased as a result. In Japan, in the fourth quarter, sales of mid-range and popularly priced products were especially good, supported by good weather. In North America, new products were well received. In Europe, although some regions were under lockdown due to another wave of infections, sales remained strong. The region’s robust online sales of fishing tackle encouraged a diversification of sales channels. In Asia, sales in China remained robust as the nation recovered from Covid-19 rapidly. In Australia, where the fishing season began in the fourth quarter, sales remained favorable, reflecting high demand for fishing tackle. The Zodias and BB-X-Special rods, as well as the  Vanford and Saragosa spinning reels proved popular.

In the Others segment, Shimano’s sales inched up by 0.8 percent to ¥356 million (€2.8m-$3.4m). The operating loss in this segment narrowed to ¥57 million (€0.4m-$0.5m) from ¥59 million.

In 2021, the management expects both sales and net earnings to grow by 20.5 percent. Group revenues are projected at ¥455,500 million (€3.59bn-$4.35bn), generating net income of ¥76,500 (€604.2m-$731.1m). It is forecasting revenues of ¥370 billion (€2.91bn-$2.78bn) from bike components, with the first half coming in stronger than the second half, and ¥85 billion (€670m-$640m) from fishing tackle.