SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Ducati Motor Holding President Gabriele Del Torchio discussed the company’s production plans for the future as well as the possibility of the company adding a second Italian brand to its portfolio during an exclusive interview with Powersports Business.
Del Torchio also talked about the company’s recent internal move — from a public to a private corporation — as well as its relationships with Far East suppliers.
Powersports Business: Del Torchio spoke on the timing of the parent company’s decision to move to a private from a public corporation, which fortunately came at the beginning of the recession. Fortunately because, as Del Torchio noted, not only did it get the company out of a possible nose-diving Wall Street scenario, but also led the company’s major shareholders to invest more heavily into the company rather than the freefalling stock market.
Del Torchio: I am glad they invested because first of all, they showed a real confidence in the company and in our future. And second because they put us in a much more comfortable position. (The moving away from a public corporation) doesn’t mean we’re not interested in short-term results. I’m interested in short-term results because it’s the only way to feed our platform for the future. But we are less obsessed with short-term results.
PSB: At the last Ducati North America dealer meeting in 2008, Del Torchio discussed Ducati’s intention of developing more Far East relationships with parts and accessory suppliers. Today, the company relies on those outlets for less than 10 percent of its parts and accessories, Del Torchio said. Are there additional interests in manufacturing in the Far East for Ducati?
Del Torchio: We are still a true Italian manufacturer. In the manufacturing facilities, we invested quite a lot in the past years. We are now projected to move into a new plant (in Italy.) I’m now negotiating with local authorities to have all the authorization (completed). In Italy, the system is quite complex; the process is quite long. So I hope to receive the authorization by the end of 2010. I’m confident that by 2013 we will be in a new plant.
PSB: Is the need for a new manufacturing plant more about long-term cost containment or about adding volume in the future?
Del Torchio: Basically, we have three major objectives. The first objective is to improve the quality of our people working at the company, making the company the best place to work because the plant we have today is a historical plant and not very modern. So improve the quality of life for people working in the company. The second objective is the Ducati plant is a destination. We have a museum, but we don’t have enough space. We need to expand our way to be a destination for the “Ducatisti” (Ducati enthusiasts) around the world. So by building a new plant, we will have more space for that. And third, we must prepare for bigger volume because I truly believe that we are facing the best opportunity we’ve ever had. We are in the middle of an (economic) crisis, but sooner or later the market will be back so we need to have a better manufacturing facility to generate enough volume.
PSB: Del Torchio was asked if Ducati has any interest in acquiring MV Agusta, which Harley-Davidson purchased in August 2008 and later decided to sell.
Del Torchio: No we are not. I already gave the answer to this question officially — we are not interested. We are so much concentrated in developing new products and improving our brand position and brand awareness of the coolness of the Ducati brand that we must stay consistent with that. It’s a time of preparation. We prepare ourselves for the future by improving our financial position. The company is now much stronger than it used to be. We are preparing ourselves to be fitter than in the past. But in the meantime, I’ve decided to focus our activity. So we don’t need to do something different. We must stay true to our mission. My best wishes to Harley to find a buyer for MV.
— Neil Pascale