The iconic British motorcycle marque Norton is no longer British, following a £16 million takeover by Indian manufacturer TVS Motor.
Announced last week by TVS and Norton’s administrators, BDO, the takeover comes following months of uncertainty for the Leicestershire firm and its 100-odd employees, after it went in to administration in January.
Founded in 1898, Norton was one of Britain’s last remaining motorcycle manufacturers, however mismanagement by the previous owner, Stuart Garner, has left the company in huge debt, along with countless unfulfilled orders of its V4, Commando and Atlas models. According to BDO’s official reports, Norton Motorcycles owed £4.04 million to Metro Bank (its only secured creditor), and £7.2 million to unsecured creditors. In total, Norton businesses owed creditors a total of £14 million.
Last week’s purchase was made by an indirect subsidiary of TVS Motor Company, Project 303 Bidco Limited, a UK company specially set up two weeks ago to make the deal. President and CEO of TVS Motor Company, Kunnath Narayanan Radhakrishan, is listed among its directors.
According to the announcement from TVS, the sale only concerns “certain assets of Norton Motorcycle Holdings Limited and Norton Motorcycles (UK) Limited". That’s to say that TVS has only purchased two of the four businesses under Stuart Garner’s Norton umbrella, leaving behind the cash-strapped Donington Hall Estates and the Priest House Hotel. As a result, while all of the current employees’ contracts have been transferred to the new owner, according to BDO’s statement, TVS can only occupy the existing manufacturing premises for the next six months.
While the takeover is a blow to British motorcycle purists, TVS has undoubtedly saved the iconic name from the history books, with the manufacturer, which accounted for 2.82 million of India’s 19.3 million bike sales last year, hoping to revive and expand it.
In a statement TVS’s Joint Managing Director Sudarshan Venu said: “This is a momentous time for us at TVS Motor Company. Norton is an iconic British brand celebrated across the world, and presents us with an immense opportunity to scale globally. We will extend our full support for Norton to regain its full glory in the international motorcycle landscape."
TVS would “work closely” with Norton's employees and customers, he added, and Norton would “retain its distinctive identity” while expanding in new markets. What this means for the countless customers with outstanding orders remains yet to be seen.