Har­ley Sees Top-deck Churn Here

Co grap­pling with man­age­ment changes at a time when busi­ness is tough

The Economic Times - - Brands: Creating Desire - Ke­tan.Thakkar@ times­group.com

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%.

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