VanMoof can no longer pay its bills, a spokesperson for the District Court in Amsterdam confirmed to NRC. After negotiations about a new capital injection failed, the bicycle brand’s parent company applied permission from the court on Tuesday evening to delay payments.
The company received permission from the court, the spokesperson said. The court is expected to publish its decision on Thursday. Such a postponement of payment is often a harbinger of bankruptcy. Special court-appointed administrators are still trying to find a solution with the company’s management to keep VanMoof afloat.
“We are working hard to continue our services and will be contacting all customers individually as soon as possible regarding pending deliveries or repairs,” the company said in a statement.
The company did not divulge this to employees before the news emerged, as it had been expected to do, but the firm’s leadership was expected to reveal the current state of the business to workers on Thursday morning. It was already clear that VanMoof was not doing well.
Dozens of VanMoof stores in Europe were ordered to close at about 3 p.m. on Wednesday. Customers of the beleaguered bicycle manufacturer were met with closed doors.
A group of about ten customers were left waiting outside the VanMoof bicycle manufacturer’s flagship store in Amsterdam-Oost on Wednesday afternoon. The company recently announced they will stop selling new bicycles, with several media outlets reporting about financial uncertainty within the business. VanMoof was not immediately available for comment.
A message on the company’s website states that the decision to halt sales is temporary, and necessary “to catch up with the production and delivery of existing orders.” One of the customers waiting outside said he wanted to pick up his bicycle which was still inside. The atmosphere among the customers is relaxed. There was, however, a police van at the location.
Several media outlets reported that the company is in financial trouble. News website TechCrunch wrote this week that VanMoof is urgently looking for new financing to stave off a collapse. Dutch business news outlet Financieele Dagblad reported that a crowdfunding platform is taking legal action because VanMoof missed an interest payment.
VanMoof has been around since 2009. Brothers Taco and Ties Carlier founded the company to make “the perfect city bike,” which stands out for its minimalist design. A few years later they switched completely to electric bicycles. In addition, the Amsterdam brand profiled itself as a bicycle maker that rebuilt the entire design and production process from the ground up.
The e-bikes are largely made from VanMoof’s own parts, which also turned out to be a financial Achilles’ heel. Huge investments were required for this. The bicycle brand has suffered tens of millions of euros in losses in recent years and had to fill those gaps by attracting new investors.
This was due to substantial investments in its own design and production process, but also due to higher repair costs that were covered under warranty. Many complaints are now being shared on social media about the brand’s faltering e-bikes and long waiting times for repairs of malfunctioning bicycles.
In 2021 alone, the company already ended up in the red by 77.8 million, after bringing in 65.6 million euros in revenue. Last year, the loss was expected to be of the same magnitude. The company was always able to fill these gaps with new investment, but also millions in loans from suppliers. At the beginning of this year, when the preliminary annual report for 2021 was published, the board warned that it was by no means certain that there would be enough new capital injections to keep the company afloat.
In its preliminary annual report about 2021 figures, which was not actually published until January 2023, VanMoof warned that it was uncertain whether the company would survive. That depends on the willingness of investors and financiers to invest money in the Amsterdam company again.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times
Image The side entrance to the Van Moof flagship store in Amsterdam-Oost. 12 July 2023 – Credit: NL Times / NL Times – License: All Rights Reserved