Starting Once the Rewire Ends
Harley announced its Rewire plan not that long ago to shift its focus. This came after the company appointed a new CEO and fired some workers and had at least one high-level executive leave. On July 28, 2020, Harley’s new CEO, Jochen Zeitz talked about the company’s poor sales numbers and how the Rewire is going. He also announced a post-Rewire strategy called the Hardwire.
“We are now working on our new 5-year strategic plan, The Hardwire, which will be grounded in enhancing the desirability of our brand and protecting the value of our iconic products,” said Zeitz.
This new Hardwire strategy will start at the end of 2020 and will guide the company until 2025. The idea with the Hardwire is to streamline its planned models. Streamlining by 30 percent was discussed. I assume this means it will cut 30 percent of its bikes.
There’s also the initiative to better distribute investment across its lineup and focus on key segments. This sounds to me like Harley will look at what’s selling and focus most of its efforts on those models. The Pan America was confirmed for Q1 of 2021 and the Bronx was not mentioned. It will be interesting to see what the Harley lineup looks like in a couple of years.
Harley also said that it would be focusing on working with key influencers to change brand perception and drive desirability. This could be good, but Harley has a TON of work to do in this area. This is the company’s biggest opportunity, and changing the way people think of Harley will be no easy task, no matter how many influencers Harley works with.
The company also said it will be focusing on its most profitable markets worldwide. This means Harley will focus its efforts on about 50 markets primarily in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia Pacific. It will also exit certain markets that provide little value to the brand.
The move right now is to finish the Rewire that Harley started back in March. While some of the plans were expressed, Zeitz touched on some specific goals for Harley. Here’s what they are:
- $250 million in cash savings (excluding restructuring charges) including SG&A and capital reductions expected in 2020
- Restructuring charges of $42 million expected to result in approximately $100 million in ongoing annual savings based upon actions taken
- Global dealer inventory down 32 percent
- On average, U.S. new Model Year 2020 motorcycles selling at MSRP
- Used Harley-Davidson pricing up significantly at retail and auction
Overall, it looks like Harley is trying to downsize a bit and make itself a leaner and better motorcycle company. I wish it well. I’d love to see the Bar and Shield become a lean and mean motorcycle-selling machine rather than the bloated thing it has become. I want to see Harley succeed here, but I struggle to have faith in a company that is in such a monster of a pickle. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next five years or so.