The managing director of Triumph Motorcycles India tells Vikram Chaudhary one needs to not only offer big bikes at the right price point but also give consumers reliable after-sales services and a good distribution network
While waiting for Vimal Sumbly at the coffee shop of the Ibis Hotel, Gurgaon, I recollect the first time I saw Triumph bikes in India—at the Auto Expo 2012. It’s been almost two years ever since—for too long, biking enthusiasts have been waiting for the Leicestershire (UK) headquartered bike-maker to launch its products in India. Triumph was, at that time, supremely confident about its India plans. But then, within three months of the Expo, in April 2012, Ashish Joshi quit as managing director of the company’s India operations. Then, until July 2013, there was no clarity on who will lead Triumph in India until Vimal Sumbly, an old Bajaj hand, took over as the new managing director. “Soon enough, we will see Triumph bikes on Indian roads,” I happily think, as I see Sumbly entering the coffee shop.
Naturally enough, this is first question I ask him. “Why we took a couple of years to launch our products in India is because, to be honest, we were strengthening our back-end set-up,” says Sumbly. “It’s easy to come up with a brand such as Triumph, but then the Indian consumer is different. You can’t just sell him a bike, what is more important is after-sales service, availability of spare parts, convenient store locations, and much more. Setting up and finalising all this took time.”
“So, all your bikes will now take the completely knocked down (CKD) route?” I ask. Sumbly replies, “Yes, we have completed our Manesar plant which produces CKDs. What CKD gives us is a very right price point. The Manesar plant will also be our spare part hub. Why we took two years is also because we were busy putting up dealerships across India.” “So you now have dealerships in almost all metros?” I interrupt. “Yes, and soon we will be entering non-metro cities too,” Sumbly says.
“Many biking enthusiasts still feel that Triumph is a competitor