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Hero begins African safari; starts operations in Kenya

July 05, 2013 13:06 IST

The country's largest two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp (HMC) on Friday announced its foray into the African continent with the launch of its brand and products in Kenya where it has also set-up an assembly unit as part of its global expansion plans.

The company's operations are slated to commence in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast next week, HMC said in a statement.

In Kenya, HMC has partnered with Ryce East Africa to sell its two-wheelers in the country. Under the alliance, Sameer Group, which is a part of Ryce East Africa, has been appointed as the authorised distributor of Hero MotoCorp range of two-wheelers in Kenya. These products will be distributed through a network of outlets spread across the country.

Commenting on the development, HMC Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer Pawan Munjal said: "We are delighted to see brand Hero make its debut in the African continent with the first launch in Kenya. This is a strategic market for us in our overall plan for the continent, which is why we are also starting our first Africa CKD assembly operations here."

The company, however, did not share the capacity of the Kenyan assembly plant.

HMC said it has introduced a range of Hero two-wheeler brands across categories, including the entry-level segment, Dawn, the Deluxe segment, Splendor Pro, Glamour and Hunk, and the premium segment, Karizma.

"We are confident our products will appeal to customers across a wide price spectrum and create a new benchmark for mass mobility in Kenya. Indeed, our Africa business is going to play a crucial role in our plans of taking Hero global," Munjal said.

Hero MotoCorp will soon launch brand-building initiatives in this market with the English version of the iconic Hero anthem 'Hum Main Hai Hero' (There's a Hero in Each of Us), which will be aired across radio stations in Kenya, the company said.

"There will also be brand-specific communications to establish Hero products in the country," it added.

After breaking-up with Honda in 2010 and ending their 26- year-old relationship after the Indian partner agreed to buy out its Japanese partner's 26 per cent stake in Hero Honda for Rs 3,841.83 crore, HMC has been seeking global expansion. 

In 2011, HMC had said it was looking at a $10-billion turnover in five years' time with a total sales of 10 million units, out of which 10 per cent would come from exports. It had stated Africa and Latin America as key export markets.

The company's foray in Africa comes close on the heels of its launch in Central America, where the company commenced its operations in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in the month of May.  Its other international markets include Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Colombia.

Earlier this week, HMC had picked up 49.2 per cent stake in US-based high-end motorcycle maker Erik Buell Racing (EBR) for $25 million (about Rs 148 crore).

The development comes more than a year after the two companies had entered into design and technology sourcing pact as the Indian firm looks to strengthen presence in the global markets. 

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