Harley-Davidson announces massive workforce cuts

Andrew Cummings
July 12, 2020

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson is eliminating 700 jobs as part of the company's rebuild called "The Rewire".

The motorcycle maker indicated 500 current employees will be laid off - and an additional 200 positions that are already vacant will now not be filled. Preliminary Rewire actions are anticipated to end in restructuring prices of about $42 million in second quarter of 2020, Harley-Davidson mentioned in its announcement Thursday.

Darrell Thomas, treasurer of the company, will become interim chief financial officer, Harley-Davidson said. Harley has a reported 6,000 employees worldwide. The Rewire will set the muse for a brand new 2021-2025 strategic plan which is predicted to be shared within the fourth quarter.

Jochen Zeitz, a Harley board member and former CEO of sneaker company Puma SE, won plaudits in April with plans to cut costs and narrow the manufacturer's focus on its core markets and model segments. "Significant changes are necessary, and we must move in new directions".

Harley-Davidson has seen its sales drop in recent years in the USA, its largest market, as its core Baby Boomer customers have gotten older.

"The Rewire is progressing very well and substantial work is being done to eliminate complexity and get Harley-Davidson on a path to winning. I thank John for his commitment during his 17 years with the company and for his leadership during this critical phase of The Rewire", Zeitz said in a statement.

Coats said more details on Rewire would be released when Harley announces its second-quarter earnings later this month.

The new Rewire plan will change virtually all areas of Harley's global business from its commercial operations to its corporate units.

These actions are part of a comprehensive Rewire playbook created to address top priority opportunities, drive consistent execution and reset the company's operating model in order to reduce complexity, sharpen focus and increase the speed of decision making. "We are building a strong foundation to drive a high-performance organization in the future", he added.

Harley announced last month it would eliminate approximately 140 production jobs at facilities in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to adjust to lower sales volumes.

The new strategic plan would set achievable and realistic goals and "reignite our Harley-Davidson soul and culture", Zeitz said.

Harley-Davidson's sales have been declining as its baby-boomer customer base ages out of motorcycles and young people aren't widely embracing the big cruiser and touring bikes.

Harley's shares were down 0.5% at $25.45 in morning trade.

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