By Claire Ferris-Lay
Iconic motorcycle brand eying dealerships in Algeria, Iraq and Pakistan as regional sales rise
Motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson sees double-digit growth in the Middle East and North Africa and is in talks to open dealerships in Algeria, Pakistan, Iraq and Libya.
The 108-year-old US firm, which is ramping up its operations in the region, saw a 19 percent increase in sales in the region in the year-to-date, compared to the same period in 2010.
“Harley has been doing really well across EMEA but the growth here [in the Middle East] has been faster,” Rob Lindley, managing director and vice president for Harley-Davidson’s Europe, Middle East and Africa operations, told Arabian Business.
“The whole reason for our geographic expansion investment that we’ve made is because we believe that double digit growth year over year is possible for us within this region.”
Harley-Davidson has fifteen dealerships in the Middle East and North Africa and opened a subsidiary office in the UAE last year.
Discussions are underway to open new regional dealerships in the region but have been postponed in Libya in the wake of the country’s violent uprising, said Linley.
“We’re planning to achieve that growth though a couple of aspects; one is by having the resources here to help the existing dealers to be more successful and grow faster, and the other is we think there are opportunities to add new dealers in markets where we are not served today.
“We don’t have any dealer partners in Algeria [and] we have the potential to cover Pakistan, Iraq. Libya is a market where up until very recently we’ve been in very active discussions with a partner [but] that will come back,” said Lindley.
Harley-Davidson is seeing renewed demand as the economy improves in many markets. The motorcycle maker saw a 3.5 percent increase in first quarter sales of new motorcycles, with net income of $119.3m for the period compared to $68.7m in 2010.
The firm in April assessed its full year motorcycle shipment forecast in the wake of the Japan tsunami and earthquake, which has delayed the supply of key parts.
Harley-Davidson will ship 215,000-228,000 motorcycles to dealerships and distributors in 2011, down from an early forecast of 221,000-228,000, the firm said.For all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.