With backing from steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta, founder of the $7 billion Liberty House group, Lawrence Bryan is hoping to take Trillion Cycles into the big time. The micro-brand is based in Leamington Spa and is starting with a steel singlespeed, but there are plans for volume manufacturing of steel, aluminium and composite bicycles, too.
Gupta founded steel products company Liberty House while he was still at university in 1992. The business is headquartered in London, but has interests around the world, including with the SIMEC conglomerate owned by his father. Liberty House owns part of the troubled Tata steel steel manufacturing businesses.
Gupta believes bike manufacturing can be revitalised in Britain, especially after Brexit, and he sees it as a return to his roots: “My first job was my gap year in 1990 was selling Victor bikes internationally which my father’s company made,” he told The Telegraph.
“Because of my father’s business I was practically born with a bike in my hands – this is me coming full circle.”
He added: “We have an engineering plant at Leamington Spa to make the bikes and will increase the UK content of them as our manufacturing businesses expand the capability to produce the parts.”
Bryan met Gupta by chance a year ago and a partnership deal with Liberty House was signed by the summer.
Trillion Cycles is sourcing the steel tubing for its first bikes from Reynolds and Columbus. The company will be exhibiting at the the London Bike Show in February.
Gupta said: “Britain was once the home of the bike manufacturing industry - Raleigh was the biggest bike manufacturer in the world a century ago. Apart from a few high end companies, bike manufacturing has all gone now. Bikes are the sort of engineered products we see in our end-to-end strategy.”
Gupta is executive chairman of Liberty House. He was born into a family of industrialists in Punjab, and he was educated in the UK, graduating from Cambridge University.
Last year he tried to acquire Tata Steel’s entire UK business, which was put up for sale in March 2016, eventually taking over parts of it.
Liberty House has created a "Green Steel" strategy to rejuvenate British steel manufacturing by creating a competitive, low-carbon sector based on renewable energy and re-melting of domestic scrap steel.
Trillion Cycles currently employs three people, with the aim to employ many more by the fourth quarter of 2017.
Trillion might be small but then so was Raleigh. It was a back-street bike builder owned by Messrs Woodhead, Angois and Ellis before being taken over by Harold Bowden in 1887 and gradually turned into a mass manufacturer.