BH CORRESPONDENT, Kolkata: Harley-Davidson has announced the exit of its chief executive officer (CEO) Matt Levatich on Friday.
Harley’s board on Friday issued a statement saying that director Jochen Zeitz would serve as acting CEO and board chairman as it looks for a permanent chief executive. Zeitz will remain chairman when a new CEO is hired, the statement said.
The iconic bran has been braving years of declining sales and hasn’t been successful in attracting younger riders. “We will look to new leadership to recharge our business,” said Zeitz, a director with the company since 2007.
Harley’s motorcycle sales in the U.S. fell 5.2 per cent in 2019. Demand for the big, expensive touring bikes make up the core of its model line from traditional riders. The brand’s core customers is aging and purchasing fewer new motorcycles and Harley-Davidson’s experiment with new models including electric bike has failed to enthuse the market.
During Levatich’s tenure, he signed off on dozens of new models for both the U.S. and foreign markets where Harley saw growth opportunities including India. Levatich had set a goal of selling half of Harley motorcycle production in overseas markets and in 2019, 42 per cent of its sales volume was outside of the U.S.
US President Donald Trump again criticised India’s high import tariff on the Harley-Davidson motorcycles as “unacceptable”, though he acknowledged that his “good friend” slashed the duty by half from 100 per cent. Lower tariff could help boost demand, opine market experts.
Levatich said: “I am proud of what we have achieved during my time as CEO, in one of the most challenging periods in our history.”