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Manufacturers reassure dealers; government support for businesses; events postponed: dramatic developments in a surreal week of coronavirus

Here is a round-up of the week’s fast-developing events caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

MANUFACTURERS

19/03/2020

KTM has assured its dealers that it remains “fully committed to its business partnerships” (see separate story).

19/03/2020

Triumph has set up a special committee to plan its coronavirus response and is drawing up contingency plans for disruption to consumer demand and the supply chain.

It has told dealers that it is inevitable that the crisis will have an impact on its business.

“The situation is evolving quickly and our plans and policies will have to adapt as the situation and government policies change,” Triumph has said.

Triumph says it is ready to take “proportionate action to minimise any negative impact to our respective businesses as much as possible”.

The Hinckley manufacturer says it has benefited from a strong retail order book and that sales remained “relatively strong”, with many of its bikes in high demand.

It believes it will see “a solid recovery once the peak of the virus passes and life begins to return to normal”.

Triumph continues to monitor the developing and says it will “continue to provide dealer support, and in the event that working from home becomes required, has taken steps to ensure everyone can continue to operate as normal”.

“Rest assured we will keep doing everything we can to maintain the business momentum while we work through this challenging time and will provide further updates as the situation develops.”

The statement ended by thanking everyone for their “support and perseverance throughout this challenging time”.

19/03/2020

Italian helmet manufacturer Nolangroup, which makes the Nolan, X-Lite and Grex brands, has decided to extend the closure of its Brembate production plant in Bergamo, which shut down on 13 March.

In a statement, the company said: “This decision will allow us to better analyse the instructions set out in the protocol for the safety of the workplace, to integrate all those measures that had not already been implemented previously and to evaluate the evolution of the virus. Nolangroup shows its closeness to all the health workers engaged in this tough struggle as well as to all those workers who are allowing us to satisfy our primary and fundamental needs for life.”

17/03/2020

In a contrarian gesture suggesting that its Russian supremo is made of sterner stuff than the people running some of his competitors, MV Agusta has decided to keep the brand’s Varese plant operational, despite the Lombardy region in which it is situated being one of the hardest hit by Italy’s Covid-19 outbreak.

This decision was agreed with workforce representatives, and the factory will operate in full compliance with Italian government restrictions and quarantine requirements concerning the pandemic. However, staffing levels will be reduced, with measures put in place to prevent and contain the spread of coronavirus, such as supplying face masks, gloves and sanitising gels, as well as restricting staff gatherings.

In a statement, MV Agusta chief executive Timur Sardarov said: “We believe it is our duty not to give up in this crisis situation, so that the economy of this community can recover once the emergency is over. We took this decision with a great sense of responsibility, towards our employees in the first place, but also towards our local community, which cannot afford a breakdown of its production capability, and towards all the related industries on which so many workers and their families depend. The company has implemented all the information, prevention and containment measures required by the circumstances. We are determined to continue doing our best to support this community, fully respecting the rules and with maximum safety.”

17/03/2020

Ducati has suspended motorcycle production at its Bologna plant in Northern Italy. But the company says R&D work will continue.

Yamaha’s MBK factory in France has temporarily closed, ceasing assembly of the XT700 Ténéré model, among others.

The two biggest Honda motorcycle plants in China, operated by joint-venture partner Sundiro near Shanghai, have remained idle since January.

16/03/2020

Pierer Mobility, parent of the KTM, Husqvarna and GasGas brands, is to stop production at its Mattighofen plant in Austria owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the company says the decision to cease operations temporarily, initially from 30 March to 10 April, has been triggered by risk of its supply chain from northern Italy failing: “Many suppliers are located in this region, which is badly affected by the coronavirus. With this measure, KTM avoids a possible uncontrolled business interruption.”

According to Pierer, some of the factory’s summer holiday shutdown will be used to stabilise the supply chain in the long term, and worldwide distribution of bikes and spares won’t be affected. Availability of all models is guaranteed for the upcoming start of the season across its global dealer network. However, previously published investor guidance for the 2020 financial year has been cancelled, because development of the crisis requires a daily reassessment of the situation.

EVENTS

19/03/2020

The Southern 100 road races due to take place in July on the Isle of Man have been cancelled because of the impact of the coronavirus on availability of medics.

“We would have insufficient cover to run the races on the scheduled dates or any other,” race organisers said in a statement.

The Isle of Man TT in June had already been cancelled because of the pandemic.

Organisers said: “After consultation with the club’s Chief Medical Officer regarding the availability of doctors and paramedics to cover the races, many of whom travel from the UK, that it is unlikely that they will able to leave their respective positions.”

Many island-based medics would be “similarly occupied” at Noble’s Hospital and Ramsey Cottage Hospital and would be “unlikely to be allowed to take leave”.

A mandatory 14 day self-isolation period for anyone arriving on the island could also lead to a shortage of race marshals for the event, organisers added.

19/03/2020

The South of England Classic Motorcycle Show and Bikejumble scheduled for Ardingly on 29 March and the Ashford Classic Bike Show and Jumble on Easter Monday, 13 April, have been postponed.

Organiser Elk Promotions said: “The decision to postpone the two events is taken with great disappointment, but, in the light of the government announcement advising people to stay away from gatherings, we have no choice.

“We are working on rescheduling both events, more details will follow as they become available but do not hesitate to contact us if necessary.”

On a positive note, the statement continued: “Remember to support our traders, many have mail-order facilities which are open for business.”

19/03/2020

The Vintage Motor Cycle Club (VMCC), the largest and best-known vintage and classic motorcycle club in the UK, has suspended section meetings, and will not be attending shows or holding runs because of the coronavirus pandemic. Formal or social runs may take place at the section committee’s discretion, but should not include pre-run gatherings or stops at cafes, public houses or suchlike: if that is not practicable, the event should be postponed or cancelled.

The club is also asking its sections to consider the situation of elderly or infirm members who may live alone and/or need additional assistance. “Phone calls would in general be better than house calls but please do think about those who may need a hand or a friendly voice that cares,” the VMCC points out.
 
The Founder’s Relay Rally planned for Sunday 3 May has been postponed and the club’s flagship event, the Banbury Run, has been re-scheduled for16 August 2020.

Contingency plans are being put in place for the Festival of 1000 Bikes.
 
“I fear that in the short-term things are going to get worse rather than better and that it may well be some time before the club can resume its normal activities,” said general manager Ian Botham.

18/03/2020

Following the recent announcement from the UK government, Mortons Events has postponed the 40th Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Show which was due to be held at Stafford on 25/26 April.

A statement said: “The safety and well-being of our visitors, exhibitors, partners, contractors and staff is the most important factor and the key reason for postponing the event. The events team have been continually monitoring the latest public health and government guidelines regarding the evolving Covid-19 situation and acting in accordance with their advice.
 
“We have secured new dates for the show at the Stafford County Showground which will now take place on 12/13 June. All ticket and trade bookings will be honoured for this new date. However, if you are unable to make this new date, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
 
For all ticket enquiries please contact our Customer Services team on 01507 529529 or email [email protected]

For all trade enquiries please contact our Shows team on 01507 529430 or email [email protected]

16/03/2020

The 2020 Isle of Man TT has been cancelled. Manx chief minister Howard Quayle announced his government’s decision at 5pm today. A 14-day obligatory self-isolation period has been imposed on anybody arriving on Manx shores, by air or sea, whether or not they are displaying symptoms of infection. All over-70s have been advised to self-isolate forthwith.

A statement read:

The Council of Ministers has taken the decision to cancel the 2020 Isle of Man TT Races which were due to take place between 30th May and 13th June.
 
The decision has been taken following confirmation that the Island has stepped up its measures to protect the population against the pandemic.
 
Laurence Skelly MHK, Minister for Enterprise, commented:
 
“The decision to cancel has not been taken lightly and all options including postponement and delaying the decision have been considered in detail. Representatives from the Isle of Man Government will now discuss the implications with all relevant businesses, stakeholders and individuals affected by this cancellation, which it recognises will be significant.
 
With the visitor restriction in place for the foreseeable future we wanted to make the decision now to give businesses, visitors and all involved stakeholders time to manage the impact going forward. The Isle of Man, and the Isle of Man TT, are faced with unique challenges regarding COVID-19 and making this decision will provide certainty to teams, competitors, sponsors and stakeholders of the event and to visitors across the globe.
 
The decision also aims to provide reassurance for our residents and healthcare professionals that the health and well-being of the Isle of Man’s residents is the single biggest priority and focus of this Government.”
 
The Department for Enterprise will, in due course, issue full refunds for all Official Tickets including grandstand tickets, hospitality packages and other Official Event Experiences purchased through iomttraces.com.
 
The Department’s Motorsport Team is continuing to work with the Manx Motor Cycle Club for the successful delivery of the 2020 Classic TT Races and Manx Grand Prix which is due to begin on 22nd August 2020 and will continue to review the delivery of the event against prevailing global conditions.
 
The Department for Enterprise and Treasury are looking at various options to support businesses affected by the cancellation and will be introducing a range of support measures

SUPPORT

18/03/2020

The government has unveiled a package of financial measures to shore up the economy against the coronavirus impact.

It includes £330bn in loans, £20bn in other aid, a business rates holiday, and grants for retailers and pubs. Help for airlines is also being considered.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told a press conference it was an “economic emergency. Never in peacetime have we faced an economic fight like this one.”

And he promised that if this package was not enough, he would go further.

The support includes measures to help businesses, large and small, apply to our industry and everyone should check to ensure they don’t miss out.

19/03/2020

The government’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee (BEIS) has opened up its inquiry into the impact of coronavirus on businesses and workers and is currently accepting written evidence.

Click here if you wish to submit evidence. The deadline for submitting evidence is 26 March.

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