Home NEWS Science Meet the man who is bringing Royal Enfield back to the UK, and set on global domination

Meet the man who is bringing Royal Enfield back to the UK, and set on global domination

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As Royal Enfield boss Siddhartha Lal sat astride his company’s new motorcycle and posed for photographs at the EICMA Milan motorcycle show earlier this month, he might have paused to consider how different things were only a decade ago. In 2007, Royal Enfield sold 32,000 units but, under Lal’s leadership, the company’s fortunes – and the share price of its parent Eicher Motors – have been transformed.

This year, the business expects to sell 800,000 motorcycles in India. It has ambitious plans for international expansion, and a new R&D facility in Leicestershire marks a return to the UK, where Royal Enfield motorcycles were first produced in 1901.

“It was still a very fragile brand in 2007,” says Lal, as a taxi carries us through country roads on the way to the R&D centre at half past seven on a crisp, bright morning. He is sitting in one of the back seats, but leans forward slightly to check the traffic in both directions when the car stops at a junction. “Selling every motorcycle was a struggle. Convincing dealers to spend time and energy, going to suppliers; they’d treat us like … well, not so well. Let’s put it that way.”

In 2004, Lal took over as chief operating officer of the Eicher Motors group, the business founded by his father Vikram, and set about selling off 13 of the company’s 15 brands. That left just Royal Enfield and truck manufacturer Eicher – the two that he believed could thrive. He set a goal for Royal Enfield. “Our ambition was to sell 100,000 units [per year]. Then the virtuous cycle starts; dealers start making a bit more money, suppliers start paying more attention. That 100,000 units didn’t come until 2012. But this year, we’ll sell more than 800,000. That was absolutely inconceivable. I thought we’d be a stable company, but not as big a sensation as we are in India now.”

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