British motorcycle brand Norton Motorcycles has been placed into administration after facing a wind up order over a tax debt of GBP 300,000 (around ₹ 2.8 crore). The development will not only put around a 100 jobs at the British firm under risk, but also puts a question mark over the Kinetic Norton partnership. India's Pune-based Kinetic Group had entered into a joint venture with Norton Motorcycles two years ago to assemble Norton motorcycles in India, and also to develop future models including a new range of motorcycles which were to be designed and manufactured specifically for India and other Asian markets.
The Kinetic Norton partnership was announced in 2017, and has a majority 51 stake held by the Kinetic Group with Norton Motorcycles holding the rest of the 49 per cent. With the British firm under financial crunch, that project has already been delayed. Now, with the British brand facing administration, the future of that partnership also remains uncertain. Kinetic Motoroyale, a multi-brand premium motorcycle initiative started by the Kinetic Group, had also set up a 30,000-unit capacity plant in Ahmednagar in Maharastra. Motoroyale also sells Italian brand MV Agusta's motorcycles in India, some of them assembled in India from semi-knocked down (SKD) kits.
Also Read: Norton 650 Atlas Scrambler To Come To India
In January 2020, representatives of Norton Motorcycles appeared at the Insolvency and Companies Court in London to contest a winding up petition with regard to the unpaid taxes, amounting to GBP 300,000. Now, however, media reports from the UK state that last minute attempts to save Norton Motorcycles from going down appear to have failed.
Norton Motorcycles was founded in Birmingham in 1898, and began making motorcycles in 1902, and was best known for its involvement in motorsport, including the Isle of Man TT. Among the most famous Norton models are the Dominator and Commando, models which were revived in 2015 after British businessman Stuart Garner bought the brand's rights back from American ownership in 2008. In 2012, cash-flow issues almost led to the collapse of Norton just four years after Garner took ownership. In November 2019, the brand launched a share scheme targeted at raising cash, which was later withdrawn after Norton attempted to get a single investor on board.
In recent years, Norton seemed to be back on a revival path, with new models planned, including the Norton V4 SS and RR models. Investment in the development of these models is said to have drained the brand's resources, while a more affordable 650 cc Atlas platform production was pushed back, and so far, hasn't even started, when news of the imminent shutdown of the brand began to emerge. So far, there's been no official comment from Norton Motorcycles about the seemingly impending shutdown.