Japanese two-wheeler major Yamaha is trying to capitalize on the “drastic change” in consumer behavior caused by COVID-19, favoring personal mobility over public transport, and its plans to expand its retail presence in India despite the pandemic-induced disruption, a senior executive said Company employees.
Yamaha Motor India Group had ceased production at its factories in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu and Surajpur, Uttar Pradesh May 15-31 when the second wave of the pandemic hit the country. Yamaha started production at the two locations earlier this month to gradually get back into business.
“In the field of personal mobility, two-wheelers are proving to be the most viable option for commuting because of their low maintenance, easy maneuverability, and the convenience of traveling over different terrains. In this regard, the future of India’s two-wheeler industry is strong and reassuring, “Motofumi Shitara, chairman of Yamaha Motor India Group, told PTI.
He continued, “In fact, the pandemic has dramatically changed consumer buying behavior and the need for personal transportation has increased as people prefer personal mobility over shared and public transportation to ensure social distancing and personal hygiene.”
When asked whether the pandemic had changed the company’s growth plans, investment strategy or expansion ambitions in India, he replied in the negative. “During the course of the year, the company will stand by its commitment to introduce the worldwide enthusiasm for racing and motorcycle culture in India with the help of various products and experiences.”
Shitara emphasized that “personal mobility will continue to have top priority in 2021” and that the company “will continue to focus on strengthening our position in the premium segment with a strong product portfolio of 150cc and 250cc motorcycles and 125cc scooters. Our immediate goal for 2021 is to stabilize sales with the current product portfolio “.
He also said the company has seen a major turnaround with customers opting for more lifestyle-oriented mobility as opposed to conventional usage seen earlier.
“This approach to two-wheelers is largely due to the new generation’s fascination with owning technologically advanced, stylish and sporty products,” said Shitara, adding that Yamaha’s newly launched FZ-X motorcycle and the Fascino 125 Fi hybrid scooter do would further strengthen its range of services.
Yamaha will continue to expand its retail presence in India through premium retail stores despite the pandemic.
“We are also aggressive in rolling out our chain of premium retail stores ‘Blue Square’ across India, focusing on metropolitan areas and the surrounding areas,” he said.
Yamaha currently has 25 branches across India in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Assam, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and the northeastern states.
“By the end of 2021, we want to have 100 Blue Square branches across India, with the goal of having 300 touchpoints over the next 2-3 years,” added Shitara.
In total, the company has 1,900 customer contact points across India.
Regarding the impact of the pandemic on its business, Shitara said that based on last year’s experience, the company has been “more vigilant and ready to deal with the current situation” and is planning the post-lockdown market approach to streamline priorities in relation to potential markets, Customers, manufacturing and sales targets, “to ensure we are two steps ahead in the general retail economy rebound”.
“As a result, we were able to record growth from July to December 2020 compared to the previous year. In the first quarter of 2021 (Jan-March) we were able to increase 14 percent compared to the previous year, ”Shitara said.
With state governments ordering the lockdowns earlier this year, the lockdown’s impact will be limited with a well-defined schedule, he said, adding that it allows companies to better plan and direct their economic activities.
“We have also worked closely with our dealers and suppliers to minimize the impact of this disruption and focus on optimizing inventory,” added Shitara.
In terms of production, he said that since the company has limited oxygen cylinder needs in its manufacturing processes, production in both plants is not a problem, although the factories at the two sites will be mentally and physically healthy from the 15th “.
“As of June 1, production began in one-shift operation at both plant locations. We have closely monitored the safety of our employees and kept an eye on the vaccination rate to make sure everyone got the much-needed vaccinations. When the employees are vaccinated and are considered healthy, we will ramp up production plans, “Shitara said.