Harley Sees Top-deck Churn Here
Co grappling with management changes at a time when business is tough
Mumbai: Iconic US superbike maker Harley-Davidson has seen a major shakeup in its India operations, with almost every key role in the top management witnessing a change in the past year and a half. While Vikram Pawah, the chief executive, quit earlier this year to join BMW India, the heads of sales, marketing and dealer development have left over the past year or so. The company has seen the head of sales changing twice in 18 months — Nipun Mahajan joined Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and, before him, Rajeev Vohra moved to the Landmark Group, an auto- motive dealership enterprise.
Navneet Banka, the head of dealer development, joined Trax cycles and, very recently, head of marketing Pallavi Singh left the company to join MG Motor, a subsidiary of China's largest car maker Shanghai Automotive.
According to people in the know, Manish Agarwal, the chief finance officer of the company in India, has been elevated to the role of country manager and he is also responsible for sales. The changes in the management structure happen at a time when the premium superbike market is witnessing falling volumes. Harley, as a brand, has also been going through a volume crisis globally.
In an official response, Marc McAllister, the managing director of international markets at Harley, said India is an important market for the company.“We have a talented and passionate team in India capable of supporting our dealers in attracting new riders and nurturing relationships with current customers. We are confident we’ll continue to lead with our powerful brand and incredibly talented India team,” McAllister told ET. The Indian market for 500cc and larger bikes grew more than fivefold between fiscal 2013 and 2015 — from 1,819 units to 9,938. However, the segment has witnessed two consecutive years of declines, with sales falling to 8,632 units in fiscal 2016 and 7,596 units in the last year ended March 31.
Harley drove the market for the best part of the FY13-15 period, before it started feeling the heat of a market slowdown and rising competition. Even in the first quarter of FY18, the market registered a decline of 27%, but the company was better off with a smaller fall of 18%. Harley’s share in the superbike market has almost halved to 46% in FY17 from the peak of 92.35% in FY13. In the AprilJune quarter, it rose to over 55%.