The humble beginnings of Granville are situated in 1928 when Frans Huygens started building bicycle frames. From 1952, the year in which the one-man business was transformed into a limited company, he built complete bicycles and called them “Ludo”, after the name of his only son, who developed the regional wholesale business into a national top seller.
Under the influence of grandson Johan, the entire bicycle line, including the brand name, was completely renewed in the year 2000. An initiative that was as daring as it was successful because in a very short time Granville became a great commercial success.
After 90 years we still build our bikes with the same dedication and passion. Carried by a corporate culture that attaches great importance to creativity, innovation and perfection. Because we want to offer an exceptional product that fully meets all your expectations in terms of comfort, safety and riding pleasure. That’s why we pay maximum attention to the right frame geometry and suspension in combination with quality, maintenance-free, harmonized components.
The result is an authentic bike full of character with a beautiful line, a lot of allure and of an unprecedented class.
They struggled through two hard years of war and in February 1946 their son Ludo was born. The work pays off and that same year Flup Mombaerts (Flup from Plum) is hired as the first workman. “Jang Fried” (nickname of Frans Huygens derived from the first name of his grandfather Godfried) now wants to join the professional federation to be recognized as a wholesaler. There are two ways to do this: either by buying in, which costs a lot of money which the young couple does not have, or by taking over an existing business. An opportunity that presents itself when in Huy the well-known wholesaler Securitas is offered for sale because of the sudden death of the manager.
In 1952 Jang and Lien return to Melsbroek penniless and disillusioned. Jang is 39 years old and, after 24 years of hard work, he has nothing. But he is more driven than ever to build his own bicycle factory. He also knows that his customers haven’t forgotten his workmanship. And so that same year the PVBA Frans Huygens is established with Karel Dierickx (Charel Ziele) as the required 2nd partner (with one share). Jang also starts building his own bicycles and chooses the brand name Ludo, after the name of their only son.
In 1967 Ludo joined the company and in that period the first private salons for the trade were organized in room Alcazar. In building up his business, Jang had always adhered to a principle that was as simple as it was effective: a pair of skilled hands and a clear head would take care of the production, and the quality of the work delivered would ensure the necessary publicity. That this philosophy was not so wrong was proven by the ever increasing demand for Ludo bicycles. In 1974 the constant growth became a real problem: Melsbroek was too small and more space became an urgent necessity.
Kortenberg also marks the start of a period of great expansion. Ludo, who in the meantime has gathered a team of young enthusiastic employees around him, wants to make the best use of the opportunities and gives a new direction to the company. By purchasing the most modern machines the production is partly automated and strongly rationalized. At the same time, a sales network was established that covered the entire country. Ludo also makes his appearance at fairs and shows. This industrialisation and professionalisation led in 1980 to the transformation of the Frans Huygens public limited company into Ludo NV.
In order to increase his reputation with the general public Ludo started sport sponsorships. First from 1975 to 1980 as sponsor of the Egmont Spurters Machelen of chairman Frans Van Haesendonck (pharmacist in the Sellaerstraat-Melsbroek) with as highlight the world title on the road juniors for Ronny Van Holen in 1977. From 1980 as co-sponsor of the professional cycling team Safir-Ludo. During four years, renowned professionals such as Herman Vanspringel (Bordeaux-Paris), Willem Peeters (Grand Prix Raymond Impanis) and Ronny Van Holen (Brabantse Pijl) achieve many beautiful victories on their Ludo bikes. In order to strengthen the position of Ludo bicycles in the province of Limburg, the volleyball club C & B Zonhoven, one of the three top teams in the honorary division, is sponsored in the same period.
The 21st century, with the arrival of son Johan and son-in-law Tim, means the handover to the third generation. They took their first steps in sales (Johan) and production (Tim). From this experience they quickly learn that – partly due to the introduction of mountain bikes (in 1989 NV Ludo became the exclusive distributor for the Benelux countries for Scott bicycles) – the market is changing rapidly and radically, and that it would be difficult to give the Ludo brand an image for the future.
And so in 1998 Johan comes up with a bold initiative. Under the name Melville he launches a more expensive leisure bicycle of high quality. A total concept was built around Melville and the bike was immediately voted Bike of the Year in three categories. It was a direct hit and immediately the signal to launch a new brand on the market a few years later, in a lower price range: Granville.
Strong growth followed and so – once again – the problem of space presented itself. So in 2007 the decision is made to build a completely new factory in the Guldendelle industrial zone. In the first phase, adjacent to the building erected in 1992, offices, an assembly workshop with a warehouse for parts and a showroom are provided.
In 2017, the second phase will follow with the construction of a warehouse for the storage of complete bicycles, an auditorium with facilities and a doubling in surface area of the showroom to 1,400 m2 with 350 to 400 bicycles on permanent display, the full range of the Ludo Group.
Today, at Ludo and SCOTT, about 50 people work on a 3-hectare site with 12,000 m2 of factory halls. Last year the group sold 80,000 bicycles and achieved a turnover of 90 million euros. But that this is not the end of the story is proven by some recent developments.
For example, more bicycles are already being sold in France than in Belgium at the moment, and 4,000 bicycles were also sold in Spain by 2021.
In Werkendam (Netherlands), the finishing touches are currently being put on a first foreign branch with offices, showroom and a workshop on a 2,500 m2 site. Later this year in Frankfurt (Germany) we will participate in Eurobike, the largest bicycle expo in Europe.
All this with the aim of reaching the milestone of 100,000 sold bicycles in 2024.