Harley-Davidson plans layoffs, production cutback after sluggish first quarter

Harley-Davidson Inc. is reducing its North American workforce and cutting its new unit production for the rest of the year after a slow first quarter.

The Milwaukee, Wis., manufacturer reported a nearly 13 percent drop in U.S. retail sales for its first quarter compared to a year-ago. Overall, its worldwide retail sales fell 5.6 percent.

“In light of disappointing trend at retail in the U.S. and certainly about the future of the economy, we’re moving to position the company for a business environment that we expect to continue to be challenging,” Jim Ziemer, Harley’s CEO, said in a Thursday morning conference call with stock analysts.

Harley will eliminate 370 North American union employee positions, or approximately 6.5 percent of that workforce, and 360 North American nonproduction jobs, or about 10 percent of that group, company officials said.

The manufacturer also plans to cut new unit shipments back by 23,000-27,000 bikes for this year. That could amount to more than an 8 percent cutback in new unit production by the end of the year.

For more on Harley’s first-quarter report, see an upcoming edition of Powersports Business.

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