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Perspective

Indian Icon
Having conquered the Indian mid-market, Royal Enfield now wants to become the world leader. Can it?

N Mahalakshmi

Eicher Motors’ stock performance in this part of the century is the stuff of legend. Almost every investor who bought the stock in the past 15 years and held on has made money. The stock is still trading near its all-time high after delivering over a 100x return since 2009. The company continues to be a favourite of foreign investors as a consumption play and today they have a larger holding than the domestic funds. The big irony is when investors first bought into the company; it was for the trucks business. The motorcycles business was just plodding along before it became the supernova that it now is. 

What Harley Davidson did way back in the seventies and eighties in the United States, Royal Enfield did exactly the same in India. They did not change the look but used technology to improve handling and mixed it with experiential marketing. Its legendary status helped as entry-level bikes are derided by seasoned riders as plastic — fit for young boys to play with. Royal Enfield now has an iron grip on the mid-segment market in India and it now wants to extend this domination to the global market. The challenge that it faces in this journey is the subject of this issue’s cover story.

If Royal Enfield is able to sustain domestic growth and make inroads into the global market, then it will have the best of both worlds. The global auto market is a different ballgame and very few Indian companies have succeeded, given entrenched competition and high safety standards. Tata Motors' success has come on the back of the JLR buy and even Motherson Sumi has become a force to reckon with in auto components by virtue of its acquisitions. Eicher Motors’ strong balance sheet would come in handy as it goes about exploring every growth avenue available to it.   

Among other stories, we have a feature on online lending platforms that use analytics to assess creditworthiness of SMEs. Then, with earnings season upon us, we take a look at which sectors are doing well and which might just scrape through.

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