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Triumph builds N.A. staff to handle perceived growth

By Neil Pascale
A significantly improved inventory position is one of the byproducts of Triumph North America’s recent internal growth.
The British-based manufacturer has bolstered its personnel in its North American subsidiary to match what it foresees as a growing business going into the New Year.
Part of that additional staff has led to a better ratio of dealers to regional sales managers as well as improved inventory forecasting, said Mark Kennedy, CEO of Triumph’s North American subsidiary.
“We have changed the sales and distribution organization,” Kennedy said, noting Triumph has added East and West Coast sales managers as well as other sales staff.

‘the right structure’
The North American subsidiary also strengthened its dealer development, marketing, parts and accessory departments as well as added a new public relations agency. In the past 12 months, Triumph has increased its staff by
20 percent.
“We felt difficult times were coming,” Kennedy said. “We didn’t envision it would be as difficult as it is with the financial problems, but we knew it was going to be tough. We also felt that if we wanted to grow, we would have to put the right structure in place and not just sit back and wait for it to happen.”
Like most industry companies, Triumph has had to scale back its perceived growth. In 2007, company officials believed getting to 20,000 new unit sales annually in North America — Triumph sold approximately 12,000 in 2007 — could be done in a couple of years. The timeline for that growth has been extended, but not cast away.
“We think the growth is there based on the new model plan we have and the improvements in the dealer network,” Kennedy said. “But with the current situation and things that have happened in the past 12 months, it’s been pushed back a year or so.”

Inventory improvement
What hasn’t been pushed back is the company’s internal growth. The additional staff has allowed Triumph to focus on several key issues, including inventory and inventory turn of its own and the dealers. As a result, the company has made huge strides. For example, in January, Triumph had more than 1,000 previous model-year bikes in stock. That number has since dwindled down to less than 150.
“Our strategy in the U.S. in the last two years was to increase the stock turn of sales through the dealer network,” Kennedy said, noting dealer inventory is also down by a double-digit percentage compared to a year ago.
“We really worked hard on optimizing our stock and sales delivery through the dealer network and that has actually put us in very good shape in these difficult times.”
It also comes at a good time as the company is preparing to bring in a number of updates and new models to North America during the next several months.
Included in those upgrades is fuel injection on all its twin-cylinder models as well as an updated Daytona 675, Bonneville’ and a new Street Triple R.
“Over the next four months, we have quite a lot of updates and new model product coming through,” Kennedy said, noting that doesn’t even count Triumph’s new cruiser, the Thunderbird, which will debut next summer.
Overall, Kennedy says Triumph is expecting modest, single-digit percentage growth in 2009.
“If we need to make changes to increase or decrease build then we have the flexibility to do that,” he said, alluding to Triumph’s manufacturing plants in Hinckley, England.

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