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India has a long history of biking: Anoop Prakash

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Harley – Davidson India, suppliers of Harley Davidson bikes in India,  has opened its latest  dealership in Kochi as part of its strategic dealership expansion across the country. ‘SpiceCoast Harley-Davidson,’ is situated at Vytilla-Aroor Bypass Road, and is owned by Mitesh Patel.  The company now has nine dealerships across the country. Talking to George Joseph, teh company's managing director Anoop Prakash, who is responsible for sales, business development and marketing  and oversight of Assembly Operations, said that the new dealership would  offer the entire Harley-Davidson line-up of 15 motorcycle models, in addition to  riding gear, apparel, and merchandise. Excerpts from an interview with him.

What is  the focus of your company’s strategic expansion plan?

We plan to open four more  dealerships across the country in order to market more bikes in the Indian market. We will open the next one in Goa,  this year itself and add three in next year. All the  dealerships will be independent and will provide our range of bikes, accessories and parts.

Why you are  aggressive on marketing and opening of more dealerships?

We think that there is a lot of room for Harley–Davidson to grow  in India. There is a strong presence of  our bikes in the Indian cities and the demand growth is robust. The country also has a long history of biking and youngsters are more enthusiastic on our new range of internationally acclaimed motor bikes. So we took dealership opening seriously.

What is your plan for manufacturing  in India?

We have a range of 15 models of bikes for the Indian markets. Of which we are exclusively importing and supplying 10 models. The other 5 models we are importing parts and assembling in India. We have an assembling plant in Haryana. We will expand the capacity of this plant whenever it is necessary. At the moment the company is not having an idea to start a full fledged manufacturing unit here.

What is your investment plan?

We don’t want to disclose the numbers, but we have good strategy to expand our market in India.

Your bikes are having pretty high price tags. So how will you compete in the Indian market?

We are a separate category of bikes which mainly focus of metros and tier–2 cities. Our price ranges from Rs 5.6 lakh to Rs 35 lakh. We have opened our first dealership in 2010 and already sold 1000 bikes. In this year we expect to double this number.

Do you want to cater to the South East Asian market from India?

We have good presence in the South East Asian markets. But whatever we assemble in Haryana will be marketed in India only. As of now the company doesn’t have plan to export from India.

How is the response in South India?

We have fairly good demand from the South especially from Bangalore, Chennai and Kochi. We have four exclusive dealers in South India and our  strongest market in the South is Chennai.

What is your expectation about the new dealership in Kochi?

Harley Davidson bikes have good demand in Kerala. So we opened a new dealership in Kochi. We are expecting strong growth in the Kerala market and the response in very good. Within a few days of the opening we got 20 bookings from the state.