Giant Manufacturing says its sales grew by 25.1 percent in the first half of this year to 19.5 billion New Taiwan dollars (€430.8m-$618.7m), but gross margins declined because of rising raw material costs and the appreciation of the Taiwanese currency against the U.S. dollar. Net income rose by 14.5 percent to NT$1.01 billion (€22.0m-$31.7m). Giant exported 910,000 bikes from Taiwan and the company expects the volume to go up by 10 percent for the full year. Merida, whose earnings fell in the first half to NT$548 million (€11.9m-$17.2m) on sales of NT$4.44 billion (€97.1m-$139.4m), plans to export more than 780,000 bikes this year, compared with 755,000 in 2007. The Taiwan Bicycle Exporters’ Association says that exports of Taiwanese bicycles to Europe grew by 11.7 percent to 1.9 million units in the first half of 2008, with a 27 percent rise in value to €214 million.