One of the biggest (automotive) surprises during the lockdown came from Chennai — that of TVS Motor Company acquiring the renowned British motorcycle brand Norton Motorcycles for roughly Rs 150 crore. The Chennai-based two-wheeler giant acquired the under-administration Norton brand’s business and assets through one of its subsidiaries. Under the agreement, TVS’ subsidiary has the licence to occupy the existing manufacturing premises for the next six months. Thus, Norton will be run out of its Donington Hall facility and TVS will utilise its global reach and supply chain expertise to explore new markets for Norton. TVS has agreed to work closely with the customers and bring back the glory days of the iconic brand.
Today, we had a (virtual) round-table conversation Sudarshan Venu, Joint MD, TVS Motor Company to understand what the acquisition means for TVS and here are some of his inputs.
TVS’ role in the bigger picture
“We have been inspired by Norton’s story for sometime. Its bespoke design, motorsport legacy, heritage value and strong customer base excited TVS to have the opportunity to retain its glory. Norton is focused on loyal customers based out of developed countries. The numbers are currently small but there’s a big opportunity for us to make it big and create value. Our aim is to restore the glory of the brand. We want to connect with the Norton customers as we look to rebuild.”
“We own the IP rights and product portfolio along with the global distribution network. Because it’s an asset purchase there are no past liabilities. The entire team carries forward except the management. For now, Norton will be run out of the UK facility (based out of Donington Hall). We will move to a new facility within six months. The design and manufacturing team will run out of the UK. In the case of supply chain and distribution, we’ll look at the possibilities in the near future. The interim management has already been appointed led by John Russel. The full team will be appointed to support him. John is a very senior person from Harley-Davidson he has a strong connect with the customers and he understands the products.”
“I think we will run Norton at an arm’s length. The existing models will be updated to meet global regulations as soon as possible. Our focus is to ensure the highest levels of quality. As of now, there are 300 pending orders. We are working with the customers and will deliver when the bikes are ready. We will work with the customers who have paid deposits and announce a plan at the right time. We aim to scale up production.”
“Customers have reached out to us from markets like UK, USA, Thailand, Australia and Malaysia so obviously the focus is to deliver to those markets first. We are currently present in 21 countries with 76 dealerships. I think there’s potential for Norton to do much larger volumes while sticking to its ethos and catering to the customers. Currently, our plan is to manufacture the existing portfolio of bikes. The idea is to grow with the large capacity segment. The idea is to connect with customers. Other emerging markets will follow up soon. And you will see Norton in India soon.”