Triumph doesn’t aspire to sell more bikes than Harley in India

Paul Stroud, Triumph’s global director, talks in an interview about motorcycle maker’s sales strategy in India

Paul Stroud, Triumph’s global director (sales and marketing).
Paul Stroud, Triumph’s global director (sales and marketing).

New Delhi: After two years of uncertainty, British motorcycle maker Triumph Motorcycles Ltd launched 10 models in India on Thursday. The cheapest of these, a Bonneville, starts at a price of Rs.5.7 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

While Triumph plans to sell as many as 1,500 bikes in the country by the end of fiscal 2015, it does not aspire to be bigger than its traditional rival Harley-Davidson India Pvt. Ltd in terms of sales, Paul Stroud, Triumph’s global director (sales and marketing), said in an interview. Edited excerpts:

You have spent considerable time in studying the Indian market. How has the experience been?

I have been to India four-five times in the last few years and I have been really surprised with the people’s fascination with Triumph and attraction to the brand. The number of enquiries that we have received on Facebook shows the genuine passion and willingness of people who want to help you and share with you their riding experiences. That is phenomenal.

What was the one thing that made you want to establish a foothold in this country?

There were a number of things. We have been watching the market very closely. As you would be aware the premium motorcycle segment has grown dramatically in the last four years, so that was obviously a big factor in our decision to come here. But also the fact that India is one of the fastest emerging economies and we believe this segment of motorcycle will continue to grow at a rapid pace.

Would you give a forecast on the (premium) segment where you will offer your products?

That’s really, really difficult to guess. What I would say is that the market will continue to grow and we genuinely believe that it is showing no sign of slowing down. I think as more and more manufacturers will start showing interest in that segment, it will continue to grow.

What went wrong with the land you acquired in Bangalore? (Initially, Triumph was to assemble its bikes in Bangalore but later decided on Manesar.)

Nothing at all went wrong. The land we acquired in Bangalore, we are still working there. We have very exciting plans for that land.

That gives me a sense that that land would be utilized for meeting demands in some other emerging markets.

As I said, when we will be ready to share plans, we will share that with you.

How do you look at Harley-Davidson, your direct competition, in India?

In what sense?

In terms of their presence, brand appeal among Indians.

Harley-Davidson is a great brand. I used to work for them. They have come into the (Indian) market pretty early. They have been very single-minded in their approach to the market. We are coming with a completely different proposition, with 10 motorcycles, with six motorcycles being CKD (completely knocked down), and, therefore, we (have) far broader appeal and we can offer motorcycles to the people which are far different from the cruisers (that Harley-Davidson sells).

We would appeal to younger guys, to adventure riders. The great thing about Triumph cruisers is that they have got the style, the pedigree, the performance and the handling.

With the current portfolio of bikes, do you think you will be able to match Harley’s sales, their reach and localization in India?

I don’t know about that but I feel very confident that we will be able to grow ourselves in the country. As you said, Harley has been here for three years, they have already built their brand.

We obviously don’t have aspiration to be bigger and sell more motorcycles than Harley, but we have aspirations and we have got our own plans, which are to establish ourselves here in India, to grow our volume base.

To be honest, Indian consumers will decide which brand will they prefer.

Will we get to see a 300cc-400cc motorcycle from the Triumph portfolio?

We will be making a 250cc motorcycle, which will be a global motorcycle.

How much of work on that product will happen in India?

The development of that product is already more than 65-70% complete. We should be able to launch that bike in 2015.

So, to answer your question, there hasn’t been much involvement from Indian market in the development of that motorcycle.

How about manufacturing the motorcycle here?

At this point in time, we have not determined where the motorcycle is going to be built.

Which markets do you have in mind for this motorcycle?

They are fancy. That’s going to be an international motorcycle for Triumph. It will be one of our rangers. Big markets without question and then there will be Indonesia, Brazil. Having said that, I think the motorcycle will be very popular in Europe and also North America and other countries in Asia.

So if your focus has shifted to emerging markets like India and Indonesia, has there been a cultural shift from the kind of bikes you were making earlier to suit the emerging markets?

Our focus is on both (developed as well as emerging economies). I can confirm that we will be going to increase our product investment.

To your question regarding the emerging markets, we understand that we need to have a strong brand, we need to have a strong product portfolio and also we need to think about our model range as we go forward, which is why we are developing that 250cc motorcycle for people of much younger age to come into the Triumph brand.

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