September 03, 2010

Demise of an industry

Chose Triumph Motorcycles in Hickley for an economic analysis assignment.

While thinking that I had understood some of the history of the Japanese manufacturers overwhelming the British Motor Cycle Industry, it turns out that I had no idea of the historical significance of (and story of intrigue behind) this company.

Triumph produced its first motorbike in 1902, by the 50s it was a world-leading motorcycle brand, dominating for nearly two decades before the Japanese stole the market with better technology and more efficient production techniques. Complacent in assuming people wouldn't want Japanese bikes, British manufacturers didn't survive.

Fifteen years of Government intervention, the eventual collapse of Triumph (Meriden) in 1983, the purchase and relaunch of the company by a private investor, a fire in 2002 in which the only factory burnt to the ground were all challenges overcome.

The company are a success now and have expanded internationally, carving out a niche in the market - differentiating themselves from the Japanese.

Will they survive the imminent arrival of the Chinese manufacturers?

Time will tell whether they've learnt from the 70s - that complacency means death.


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