Royal Enfield

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Royal Enfield – Brand Rejuvenation of Motorcycle in India The year 2000 could have been decisive. That was when the board of directors at Eicher Motors decided to either shut down or sell off Royal Enfield - the company's Chennai-based motorcycle division, which manufactured the iconic Bullet motorbikes. For all its reputation, the sales of the bike was down to 2,000 units a month against the plant's installed capacity of 6,000; losses had been mounting for years. Just one person stood up to the board, insisting Royal Enfield should get another chance. He was Siddhartha Lal, a third generation member of the Delhi-based Lal family, promoters of the Eicher group of companies. Lal, then 26, was an unabashed Bullet fan: he even rode a red coloured Bullet while leading the baraat (procession) to his wedding venue, instead of the traditional horse. "The board agreed to give me a chance," says Lal. "It was not because of its confidence in me, but because the business was doing so badly it could hardly get any worse." Lal felt Royal Enfield could still be saved. The bike had its reputation, a cult following, an instantly recognisable build, and aspirational value. Changes had to be made to keep up with the times and make the bike more acceptable, and there in lay the problem. Royal Enfield fans liked the bikes exactly the way they had always been. "We needed changes to attract new customers but by doing so risked losing existing ones," says R.L. Ravichandran, whom Lal brought in as CEO in 2005 as part of his revival effort. Ravichandran had earlier worked with both TVS Motor and Bajaj Auto. "We were in a peculiar situation," he adds. Rejuvenating Times The change had to be a calibrated one. The mistaken notions of prospective customers had to be addressed, and any reservations about Bullet and Thunderbird, which was launched in 2002, removed. At the same time, Lal and Ravichandran were clear that the individuality of Royal Enfield bikes should not be compromised. "We did

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