“With growing weakness in the economy, US retail sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles were down 12.8 percent in the first quarter,” says Harley-Davidson chief executive officer Jim Ziemer. “Although these retail results are disappointing, Harley-Davidson’s US dealers outperformed the heavyweight motorcycle industry, which was down 14.0 percent.”
Harley-Davidson has responded to the first-quarter numbers by cutting down the number of motorcycle shipments to dealers.
“In view of US retail trends and uncertainty about the future of the economy, we now plan to ship 23,000 to 27,000 fewer Harley-Davidson motorcycles in 2008 than we shipped in 2007, resulting in total planned 2008 shipments between 303,500 and 307,500 units,” says Ziemer.
Between 76,000 and 80,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles are expected to be shipped in the second quarter of 2008.
Ziemer says that Harley-Davidson will achieve the shipment reduction through temporary plant shutdowns and adjusting daily production rates. A decrease of about 370 unionized employees is expected in the next few months and the company will also be reducing the non-production workforce by about 360 jobs.
“We believe these actions will better position the Company for a business environment that we expect to continue to be challenging,” says Ziemer.
“Harley-Davidson is fortunate to be dealing with the current economic environment from a position of financial strength. We are a great company with an exceptionally powerful brand. We are optimistic about our long term business prospects and we will continue to invest in marketing, product development and our international business to drive future growth.”