Motorcycles: EASY RIDER
Above: The Royal Enfield UK Technology Centre, Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire
A good year for motorcycle makers in Britain, with three iconic brands reporting high sales, investment and more good news late in the year.
Triumph turnover nears £500 million
Sales at motorcycle maker Triumph accelerated to nearly £500m, the media reported on 19 December.
For the year to 30 June 2017, the group increased its turnover to £498.5m from £407.6m while pre-tax profits also grew from £16.6m to £24.7m. Triumph manufactures and sells motorcycles, spare parts, accessories and clothing merchandise in more than 57 countries.
Triumph developed its motorcycle range through 2017 launching five new models in the last 12-months, including the new Street Triple, the new Bobber Black, the new Speedmaster and the new Tiger 800 and Tiger 1200 adventure motorcycles.
A statement said: “In the face of continuing challenging economic and currency conditions, including Brexit, Triumph Group has performed strongly and has maintained its commitment and investment in research and development, with a view to furthering the continuous improvements of its products.”
The company, which dates back to 1902, also opened a £4m Factory Visitor Experience at its Hinckley base. It includes a museum charting the history of Triumph, which is free to enter, as well factory tours.
Norton Motorcycle exports further with support of financing from UK Export Finance
The once struggling, near 120-year old British brand has been born again under current owner Stuart Garner. He acquired the global brand and rights in 2008, re-established the company’s manufacturing base in the UK and delivered the company’s first motorcycle of the new millennium in 2010.
It now sells around 1,000 motorcycles each year all over the world, employs 120 staff in the UK, and has forecast sales of £20 million for this year, Business Quarterly reported. Sales are strong in Australia, USA, Canada, Japan and Europe – but the firm said new distribution partnerships in China and India will grow its presence in Asian markets too.
Financing this success has been a challenge as the firm’s distribution network expects credit terms when they take deliveries, while Norton needs working capital to finance the manufacture of the motorcycles. UK Export Finance, the UK government’s export credit agency within the Department for International Trade, helped the company by providing a rolling working capital facility to support an invoice finance model with Santander.
New UK tech centre and expansion plans for India’s Royal Enfield
Indian motorbike maker Royal Enfield opened a new technology centre in Leicestershire in 2017. Headcount at the new facility is expected to grow by almost 20 per cent in 2018 as it expands its engineering skills base.
The Royal Enfield UK Technology Centre next to Bruntingthorpe’s test track, the largest privately-owned motorcycle test track in the country, delivers all Royal Enfield’s motorcycle development, engineering and testing work.
Designs are sent electronically to Royal Enfield’s manufacturing plant in Chennai, India, where nearly 800,000 motorcycles are produced annually.
The Enfield bikes, which originated in Britain, are mainly sold to the Indian market but, thanks to more technologically advanced designs, Royal Enfield is eyeing up global expansion.
The firm opened a new global headquarters in Milwaukee, US – close to rival Harley Davidson – and the UK and Europe are being targeted for more sales. Aston University industry expert David Bailey warned that a deal between British-based Triumph and Indian manufacturer Bajaj will increase competition in Enfield’s home market. “And, outside of India, they face competition from newer, more technologically advanced motorbikes,” Bailey told The Daily Telegraph.