Few motorcycle manufacturers inspire as much brand loyalty as Harley-Davidson.
Few motorcycle manufacturers inspire as much brand loyalty as Harley-Davidson.

End of an era as Harley dealer closes

By Leila Samodien Time of article published Jan 4, 2012

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Cape Town's premier Harley-Davidson dealership has been liquidated.

Harley-Davidson Cape Town, in Somerset Road, closed down on December 20 and was placed under provisional liquidation in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday, following a court application brought by Turnsil Investments, which owns the store.

According to court papers, the dealership's motorcycle sales had declined over the past three years and it presently had a shortfall of more than R2.5 million.

According to an affidavit by Jason Nicol, one of the Green Point branch's directors, they needed to sell about 200 motorcycles a year to sustain the business.

Sales figures had steadily declined since 2006 and 2007, during which years it sold 214 and 222 motorcycles respectively.

Sales dropped to 170 in 2008 and 141 in 2009. In 2010 the dealership sold only 80 motorcycles - 64 percent fewer than in 2007 - and in 2011 it sold 100 motorcycles.

Nicol said they had attempted to secure additional funding from banks, private companies and automotive groups, without success.

“Between 2006 and 2011, the number of sales of motorcycles effectively halved. The only explanation for this is the global financial crisis,”he said.

While there is another Harley-Davidson branch in Tyger Valley, the Green Point branch was the first official dealership to open in Cape Town in 1999 and its closure came as a blow to motorcycle enthusiasts.

Pete Richelmann, clubhouse manager of the Cape Town Harley-Davidson Club, said: There is another store, but the one in town felt like home.

Harley-Davidson is a family and for a lot of us it's like a loss in the family.”

Richelmann, who also chauffeured people around the city on the pillion of his Harley-Davidson, said he hoped somebody would revive the Green Point store one day.

The club's chairman, Gary Pretorius, said that while the existence of the club was not dependent on the shop, it was an iconic landmark in the city.

“When I travel anywhere, I always look up Harley-Davidson dealers and pay a visit; even in Cape Town, tourists and enthusiasts would drive for kilometres just to see the store because it was such an icon,” he said.

Jaco Wessels, a member of the club, said that before the dealership opened, there were only about 40 Harleys in Cape Town, most of them older models.

“It really put Harley-Davidson on the map in Cape Town,” he said. - Cape Times

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