BSA and Jawa brands to Mahin­dra

Old Bike Australasia - - BUZZ BOX - From Alan Cath­cart

The on­go­ing re­vival of Bri­tain’s his­toric mo­tor­cy­cle brands has seen the rights to the dor­mant BSA brand pur­chased by the $17.8 bil­lion In­dian in­dus­trial con­glom­er­ate Mahin­dra Group, one of the top 20 com­pa­nies in In­dia’s For­tune 500 in­dex. In­dia’s largest SUV and util­ity ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­turer, Mahin­dra has a global work­force of over 200,000 peo­ple in more than 100 coun­tries, and is the world’s largest maker of trac­tors. In 2008 Mahin­dra ex­panded into the two-wheeled sec­tor by spend­ing $17 mil­lion in pur­chas­ing Ki­netic, a small In­dian man­u­fac­turer which had ac­quired the rights to most prod­ucts of the de­funct Ital­ian scooter com­pany Ital­jet. Mahin­dra has since in­vested up­wards of $200 mil­lion in MTW/Mahin­dra Two Wheel­ers, in­clud­ing con­struct­ing a state-of-the-art fac­tory with an an­nual pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of 500,000 units. In a deal signed on Oc­to­ber 20 with David Ben­nett, CEO of UK-based Re­gal En­gi­neer­ing, holder of the BSA trade­mark, Mahin­dra Group sub­sidiary Clas­sic Leg­ends Pvt. Ltd has ac­quired all 120,000 shares of BSA Co. Ltd. in a trans­ac­tion to­talling GBP 3.4 mil­lion. Clas­sic Leg­ends has also signed an ex­clu­sive brand li­cence agree­ment for the Czech mar­que Jawa, but this is not an ac­qui­si­tion, merely the li­cence to use the name in In­dia. Two-stroke Jawas were built in In­dia dur­ing 1960-1996, gen­er­at­ing a cult lo­cal fol­low­ing which per­sists even to­day, so the brand will be used ex­clu­sively for In­dian cus­tomers. Ac­quir­ing BSA de­notes Mahin­dra’s in­tent to tar­get pre­mium sec­tors of the mo­tor­cy­cle busi­ness in ex­port mar­kets. It’s un­der­stood Mahin­dra aims to es­tab­lish its own BSA R&D cen­tre in the UK, just as its Royal En­field ri­val has re­cently done, and to man­u­fac­ture BSAs in the mar­que’s coun­try of ori­gin. BSA pro­duced its first mo­tor­cy­cle in 1910, and went on to be­come Bri­tain’s largest man­u­fac­turer by the early 1960s; the 20,000-strong work­force in its Birm­ing­ham fac­tory pro­duc­ing over 50,000 bikes an­nu­ally, against 30,000 by Tri­umph, 20,000 by AJS/Match­less, and just 5,000 Nor­tons. Yet by 1972 BSA was in the hands of the re­ceivers, thanks to cat­a­stroph­i­cally bad man­age­ment by an in­ad­e­quate board of di­rec­tors.

BSA’s fi­nal col­lapse came after two years of late pro­duc­tion, when its mod­els twice missed the USA’s early-Spring key sales pe­riod. Its mo­tor­cy­cle busi­ness was merged with Tri­umph and Nor­ton-Vil­liers as part of a Bri­tish gov­ern­ment-ini­ti­ated res­cue plan to cre­ate NVT, headed by Dennis Poore. He shut down the Small Heath fac­tory, and BSA was no more. Un­til now.

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