Indian to close current Australian dealerships
Polaris today announced it is restructuring its Indian Motorcycle dealer operations in the Australian and New Zealand markets and intends to move to an independent network of dealers starting later this year.
Polaris has managed the retail operations of its motorcycle brands through a network of corporate-owned and independent dealerships since it entered the Australian and New Zealand motorcycle market in 2008.
By the end of 2020, Indian Motorcycle in Australia and New Zealand will operate solely with an independent dealer network.
As a result of this change, Polaris will close its four company-owned stores, which are located in Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, over the course of the next year. The company is committed to working directly with each location and will provide support accordingly for affected staff.
There have also been some major changes in regards to the Indian Motorcycles management in Australia. Long time Polaris AU-NZ Managing Director Peter Alexandar moved on last month after almost two decades with the company. While Peter Harvey, Australia & NZ Motorcycles Country Manager for Polaris, left the company this week after a similar long tenure.
Alan Collins, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand
“Setting up corporate owned dealerships had been the right model for the past decade as we worked to introduce brands, like Indian Motorcycle, to the Australian and New Zealand markets.
“However, the response to Indian Motorcycle has reached a point where our customers now need and demand more – more locations and more support. We have big and bold goals as we look to grow the Indian Motorcycle brand in this market. Moving to an independent franchised network of dealers is more sustainable for us and our partners as we look to grow in order to meet demand, while also enabling a broader network of support and options for our customers.
“We anticipate no interruption to sales or customer service during this transition, which will ultimately result in a significant expansion of our dealer network – we plan to double our network over the next two years – to provide far greater coverage, support and accessibility to customers across Australia and New Zealand. It will remain business as usual at our company-owned stores in the interim while we bring new dealer partners onboard.”
Indian Motorcycles is actually a relatively small part of the Polaris operation in Australia. Polaris is the Australian market leader in the sales of ATV and SxS vehicle and retailed 5119 four-wheel vehicles in 2019 to take the largest sales share in that segment of the market.
In the motorcycle sector the Australian market is currently facing considerable headwinds with virtually all brands recording significant declines in sales in recent years.
The current company owned Indian stores in Australia offered a next level customer experience, but without big sales numbers this approach was always going to be hard to sustain.
Indian has no doubt taken plenty of sales from Harley-Davidson but it is still the H-D brand that dominates the Australian road motorcycle market place.
Sales of Indian’s new FTR1200 were actually quite strong, as was the Scout, but the large capacity cruisers, despite proving great rides that are dynamically superior to comparable Harley-Davidson models, it is H-D that clearly dominates the large-capacity and touring segment. Indian sold 803 motorcycles in Australia during 2019, a 3.9 per cent deline on 2018. Harley-Davidson suffered a much larger decline of 7.9 per cent, but still retailed 6462 motorcycles here in 2019.
Indian customers should not fear that their chosen brand faces financial difficulties that could potentially leave them in the lurch. The Polaris group is massive, and despite closing down their Victory Motorcycles brand, it seems clear that they are still right behind the Indian Motorcycles brand. It just seems that the company owned store structure proved not sustainable considering the relatively small size of the Australian market, thus the decision has been made to close the distributor owned stores and switch to independent dealers, which is the way Indian generally do business in other markets around the world.
Indian plan to double the size of the Indian Motorcycle dealer network in Australian and NZ over the coming 12-24 months.
It will be business as usual at their company-owned stores in the interim as they bring new dealer partners on board and anticipate that there will be no interruption to sales or servicing as Indian Motorcycles transitions to independently-owned dealers.
Indian are working closely with the staff in their current company-owned dealerships to ensure they are retained within the Indian Motorcycle family wherever possible.