Q: Can you help us understand Triumph’s ambition in India?
Sumbly: Let me start with some background. Triumph is a company that has been around for almost 102 years and it is a brand that has a good pedigree around the world in terms of styling and the portfolio of motorcycles it offers. In India, we understand that things are different. The driving pattern, the way you get on a bike... is all very different. But till now it has been [as if] whatever looks big on the road is a superbike. It is not. What Triumph wants to do is bring a category of motorcycles to India. What I mean is style and how do you ride that bike. The Triumph Classic is an easy-riding bike to get from one place to another. The roadsters are to get from point A to point B in the shortest possible time. Then there are cruisers for long, weekend rides. Also, [there are] adventure bikes which you can take anywhere. So, what we are doing is giving the Indian bike enthusiast the option based on his style and need at a very competitive price.
Q: How have you gone about executing your plans?
Sumbly: In the last two years, we have been setting up our backend. We spent a lot of time to understand the needs of [bike] enthusiasts. Based on that, we decided that we do not want to come with one brand, test it or sell it, or start with CBU [Completely Built Unit] and then CKD [Completely Knocked Down]. We decided to come with the whole portfolio of bikes. In India, about 800,000 motorcycles are sold every month. And the super premium industry is just about 3,000 units a year. There is a huge scope and the same industry in 2009-10 was about 400 units. What Triumph is going to do is expand this market.
Q: So, how is that playing out in terms of sales?
Sumbly: We have surpassed our expectations. In November last year I [had] said that we will sell 500 bikes in one year. People were surprised and said that it took Harley-Davidson four years to sell 1,200 bikes. We have 160 bookings from just three stores and we are going to open six more by the end of April. So, we will be close to 500 by this June. And I am sure 1,000 bikes in the first year.
Q: Is that possible?
Sumbly: It is. If you look at the size of the market, it has been growing rapidly. So, 400 units (four years back) became 1,800 and then 2,300 and about 3,000 this year. This is happening despite the motorcycle industry not doing very well. Add to this the fact that per capita income is going up. Infrastructure is getting better every year. And last, customers are becoming global customers. They travel around the world so they know what technology and riding means. If you combine all of these factors, there are buyers in India if you give them the right product at the right price.
Q: Any plans to start manufacturing in India?
Sumbly: Yes. We are planning to make smaller bikes in the 250 cc range which you will see in 2015-16. Triumph has procured a land near Bangalore. Currently, out of the 11 models we have launched, seven are CKDs which we are assembling in our plant in Manesar and four are CBUs. And we are working a lot on the distribution too. For instance, none of the dealerships are approved unless they have a full-fledged service outlet along with it. We have ensured that the people have been trained by our technicians in the UK. And last, we are bringing our full range of accessories to India.