Harley-Davidson is the definitive biker brand, summing up an image of America and free-wheeling independence unmatched by any other product. What else would you expect from the company that gave the world the original hog bike and the zippered black leather biker's jacket? Harley-Davidson still makes the ultimate in high-end heavyweight motorcycles and has successfully extended its brand into clothing, accessories and collectibles. Until recently, the company had also enjoyed an enviable financial record, notching up 20 straight years of revenue and earnings growth until the 2008 credit crunch prompted a dramatic slump in sales. There has been recovery since then - revenues topped $6bn for the first time in 2014 - but performance remains mercurial, reflecting declines across the whole global motorcycle industry since then. Harley's topline slipped to under $5.7bn in 2017, and further declines are expected in 2018. Sales volumes have fallen from almost 315k units in 2008 to under 242k for 2017. Matt Levatich is CEO. The motorcycle industry has long suffered from dramatic swings in fortune. William Harley built his first engine-powered bicycle in 1903, with his friend and business partner Arthur Davidson, but the arrival of Ford's Model T automobile a decade later put almost every motorcycle manufacturer in the world out of business. Harley-Davidson was saved only by its popularity with American police and later the US military. By 1920 it was the biggest bike manufacturer in the world. Another crisis came with the negative association of motorcycles with outlaw gangs during the late 1950s and 1960s. Again, Harley-Davidson only just managed to survive before the economic boom of the 1980s prompted another upswing in demand. Subscribers may access account assignments and contact information. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to Adbrands.net premium services. Click here to access Adbrands account assignments (subscribers only); or see here for information on how to subscribe.
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Capsule checked 21st February 2018
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Aug 2018: A war of words between President Trump and motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson has boiled over into threats and recrimination. The resulting fallout could be even more damaging to the iconic American brand than the steel tariffs from which it seeking to insulate itself. Trump's protectionist move to impose tariffs on imported steel resulted in a tit-for-tat retaliation from Europe. To avoid having to raise its prices in the EU, Harley said it would move some manufacturing out of the US, and that has led to a furious response, not only from Trump but also many of Harley's own customers. Earlier this year, Trump warned in a tweet (where else?) "If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end - they surrendered, they quit!" More recently he claimed "I guarantee you everybody that ever bought a Harley-Davidson voted for Trump." This week, in an astonishing attack by a sitting President on an American company, he commended calls by Harley owners to boycott the company if it moves manufacturing overseas.
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