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4th straight quarter of growth for Harley in Europe

American Motorcycle Dealer is reporting the following good news for Harley:

Harley announces fourth straight quarter of sales growth in Europe

It is no secret that throughout the downturn the European market has been becoming increasingly important for American businesses in the custom motorcycle industry.

While there has been decline in the European motorcycle market, most markets in Europe haven’t suffered as badly as has been the case in the United States.

In the case of Harley-Davidson, while the company has been able to buck the trend in domestic US market share terms, performing ahead of market decline, in Europe the company has now been able to confirm that the third quarter of 2010 marks a fourth straight quarter of sales as well as market share growth.

Speaking at the European unveiling of the 2011 model line-up at the Intermot Expo, Cologne, Germany, Harley-Davidson Europe Managing Director Rob Lindley said that “in the 651cc plus market, where we measure our performance, Harley-Davidson has been one of the few manufacturers to see sales grow in Europe during the past twelve months, and with conclusion of our third quarter of this year we can confirm a full year of sales growth across our European markets. In fact, we have grown sales in each of the last four Quarters.”

In market share terms, Harley is now the number one manufacturer in countries such as SwitzerlandLuxembourgPoland, the Czech Republicand Norway, and second in markets such as Germany, the Netherlands,Finland and Sweden.

Asked what he put this down to Lindley cited several factors, “clearly the strength of the Yen has hit Japanese manufacturers hard in the past couple of years, and with traffic and legislative issues stimulating a general trend towards the custom and cruiser sectors and away from sports bikes. We have also introduced a number of strong and relevant new bikes for Europe, I think Harley is in a ‘good place’ at this time in Europe.

“However, I think one of the most interesting trends that everybody is now beginning to see is that there is a general trend among the riding public to look for premium brands and a more fully formed riding experience. ”As such it is clear that Harley-Davidson’s brand values speak to increasing numbers of motorcycle buyers as their own riding experience demands develop. Not only are we seeing sales and market share in Europe grow, but the ‘Dreamer Pool’, as we call it, of those considering the Harley-Davidson brand is also increasing.

“As our CEO Keith Wandell has said many times, focusing on core brand values will return the company as a whole to growth once economic conditions permit, and as one of the most personal and emotionally connected of motorcycle brands we are certain that the European experience can be replicated elsewhere.” Lindley went on to say that new initiatives this quarter will see Harley establish new sales offices and add to its dealer network in markets such as Greece, the Middle East, Russia and Africa.

In demographic terms, he reported that while the average age of Harley buyers remains pretty typical of where the bulk of heavyweight motorcycle buyers to be found, at around 44 years of age (and slightly younger in Europe than is the case in the United States), any suggestion that the excitement that the Harley ownership experience offers has peaked is conclusively answered by the “extraordinarily high and growing percentage of our customers who are still coming to the brand for the first time.”

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