Raleigh rides away from Waterloo, Quebec after 40 years
Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013 7:04PM EST
MONTREAL - The Raleigh bicycle plant in Waterloo, Quebec will soon roll out its last bicycle, as the company has announced that its 100 workers will be let go and operations moved elsewhere.
Producing bikes at the facility was no longer profitable, according to brass.
“Something we've seen over the last five years is the constant lowering in the demand for our product and then the constant lowering of the production figure, to a point where we're no longer economically viable to produce here at the factory,” said Raleigh plan purchasing manager Jason Edwards
The workers, whose average age is 55, have no pension plan and many do not have savings, according to the union.
“We were very surprised by the announcement. We weren't expecting it. It's like a slap in the face,” said union president Luc Desautels.
Emploi Quebec has offered to retrain the laid-off employees but the decision is still expected to hurt the economy of the small Eastern Townships town of 4,500, which sits 60 kilometers east of Montreal.
Some local bicycle fans were saddened by the news of Raleigh's departure.
“It's a classic,” said Phaido Vrahnos of Montreal’s Velo Expresso. ”They make high-end bikes, they make low-end bikes, they make a lot of cruisers and city bikes. It's a shame that they're not going to be around anymore for sure”
The plant will stay open as a warehouse, distribution and service centre after production ends in June.
The first Raleigh bikes were built on a street of the same name in Nottingham, England in 1887 and by 1893 the company was the biggest bike manufacturer in the world.
The Waterloo plant opened in 1973 and employed 170 workers as recently as 2010, as the company had struck a deal with Walmart where it had sold 1.4 million bikes since 1994.
In 2005, representatives from the Waterloo plant begged Ottawa to slap a 48 percent tariff on foreign bicycle imports.
After 40 years, the Raleigh bikes will soon stop rolling off the Waterloo line.