PLOVDIV, Bulgaria – After opening the company’s second production facility in Bulgaria last June in which some 6 million euro has been invested, Leader 96 OOD now announces that it has taken-over the German bicycle brands Panther and Jaguar from Panther International GmbH.
Leader 96 has been founded in 1996 and since expanded into bike maker with a yearly production capacity (including the 2nd facility) to some 400,000 units and its staff to 550 employees. Leader’s product range includes e-bikes, city, mountain, kids, folding, road and fitness bikes. Currently, more than 95% of its production is exported to countries like Germany, Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Finland and others.
Dimitar Zlatanov, CEO of Leader 96 said “The acquisition of the well-known German brands Panther and Jaguar, is an important step for our company as we always strive to improve the range and quality of bicycles that we offer to our clients. We look forward to supporting the further growth of the two brands on the European markets.”
Michael Schminke, founder and Managing Partner of Panther International commented “The long-standing business relationship between Panther International GmbH and Leader 96 OOD, has always been successful and is characterized by joint progress. The know-how and especially the growth of our Bulgarian partner offer great opportunities for the further development and establishment of the brands Panther and Jaguar.”
Schminke family’s bicycle empire
In 2014 the Schminke family’s bicycle empire got into financial troubles. At that time it consisted of Pantherwerke, Czech bike producer Master Bike sro and in the past of Lithuanian UAB Baltik Vairas which has been sold end of 2013.
Next to OEM-production also bicycles were marketed under brands like Bauer, Göricke and Panther. The companies were operating under Pantherwerke International GmbH.
Despite the insolvency proceedings Michael Schminke continued Pantherwerke International GmbH which has now sold off its Panther and Jaguar trademarks and will continue to operate and market its Göricke branded bikes.