Norton widen their net: Partnership with sportscar firm announced for latest dealership

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Norton Motorcycles have announced another dealership destination, partnering with high-class sportscar firm Williams Automobiles, based in Chipping Sodbury.

Up until now, the dealer has focused solely on cars, with Norton becoming the first biking brand on the premises. Here you will be able to buy the latest Norton Commando 961 range alongside the V4SV superbike and V4CR naked.

“It’s a brand with a rich heritage – much like us – and has a very exciting product range,” Director of Williams Automobiles, Henry Williams, said. “We’ve wanted to offer motorcycles for some time, so to have something truly British joining the rest of our made in Britain range is a joy.”

Norton Commando 961 on the road

Williams will become the twelfth dealer location for Norton, with fans of the brand able to view, test ride, and buy motorcycles – as well as organise servicing, repairs, parts, and accessories.

Affordable Nortons on way? After the release of the £40k+ V4s, Norton say basic models are in the works

First published 3 July 2023 by Stuart Prestidge

Norton V4CR

Following the launch of the £41,999 Norton V4CR café racer at the Bike Shed Show in London, Norton CEO Dr Robert Hentschel has told MCN that more affordable models are not too far away.

Back in March 2023 the company recorded year-to-year losses of £29 million. This figure does not reflect the March 2022 investment of £100m by owners TVS Motor Company for the construction of a new Solihull based facility – an investment that will now, says Hentschel, yield huge benefits.

“To create a motorcycle OEM it is a journey over years, not over months or weeks because it’s quite complex to build a complete organisation, to ramp up production, to get the supply chain in place,” he told MCN. 

Norton CEO chats with MCN

“So, when I joined, we defined a 10-year product plan which was signed off with the shareholders. We are following this plan, but it will take a little bit more time to present new models.

“We have [made] a loss, but we are creating value because we are setting up a company which, at the end of the day, will have to be profitable, and for me this is one of the most important criteria to look at the at the history of Norton. I think Norton has had 13 owners and the bit that was always difficult was the profitability,” he said.

“We will create something which is profitable and also with the range of bikes where we set a statement to the market.”

Norton Commando 961 on the road

Hentschel claims Norton will start to show some new products by the end of 2024, with a view to releasing more affordable machinery alongside the luxury four-cylinder bikes we’ve already seen. Special editions will also continue to appear over time.

“We have at the moment a customer base which is motorcycle customers. In the future we are also looking for younger customers, in electromobility, for example, there’s a lot of opportunity for us,” the Norton boss added.

“We have to find the right product mix and if you want to build some volume, you also need to be competitive in the base models, to offer for the whole customer range.”

Norton V4CR on the road

The company has expanded its workforce five-fold from just over 50 to 250 now working in their state-of-the-art Midlands base.

Sales teams have also had a boost in India, with globalisation seen as a key part of their growth plan for the future.

“I’m convinced that in some segments the introduction of electric will take longer,” added Hentschel. “But especially in the lower performance EV segment, I think we will see fast growth and that’s also an opportunity to win young customers in our mobility segment,” he concluded – but would not confirm the timeframe. 

Norton announce flagship London Bike Shed showroom alongside five other locations

First published 31 March 2023 by Dan Sutherland

Outside the new Norton showroom at the Bike Shed in London

Three years on from TVS’ acquisition of Norton Motorcycles for £16 million, the British name has announced a new flagship showroom at the Bike Shed in London – with five other dealers snapping up franchises too.

“Seeing the Norton brand move from within the four walls of Norton HQ and out into the marketplace is positive on a number of levels,” Chief Commercial Officer, Christian Gladwell said. “More dealers mean more riders enjoying the results of the hard work and dedication that the entire team at Norton has contributed towards.”

Spearheading the new roster of showrooms is the Norton Atelier (a posh way of saying workshop), which sits within the walls of the Bike Shed café and restaurant in Shoreditch, London.

Inside Norton's shop at the Bike Shed in London

Customers will be able to purchase the Commando 961 SP and CR, as well as the V4SV superbike at the venue, as well as a range of off-bike clothing, designed by Savile Row fashion designer, Nick Tentis.

“Outfitting the space with a tailored mix of both bespoke and vintage furniture perfectly encapsulates Norton’s past, present and future,” Tentis said – having also designed the showroom.

This was added to by Gladwell, who said: “For Norton to have created the first of its own spaces from scratch shows our commitment to the growth of this historic marque, at the same time as setting a new standard for motorcycle retail.”

29 Norton Commandos were built for carried-over customers

Gareth Charlton, Global Brand Director of Bike Shed Moto Co, added: “I am delighted to welcome Norton Motorcycles into our shop space at 386 Old Street. With their glorious history and dynamic vision for the future I cannot think of a better neighbour for Bike Shed Shoreditch.”

The new dealers are the first chance for riders to sample the Solihull-built boutique bikes outside of their Midlands factory. Back in February, the firm announced they would run Commando test rides from any location on the UK mainland, convenient to you.

In addition to their swanky London pad, partnerships have also been announced with Krazy Horse London, P&H Motorcycles in Crawley, Via Moto in Sheffield, Thor Motorcycles in Bodmin, and Oakmere Motor Group in Cheshire. All of these will cover test rides, servicing, repairs, parts, accessories and more.

‘We are doing the right things’: Norton CEO delivers petrol and electric update

First published 09 December 2022 by Dan Sutherland

Norton CEO Dr Robert Hentschel photographed at Motorcycle Live 2022

Norton Motorcycles CEO, Dr Robert Hentschel has been talking to MCN about the production plan for the company’s current range, pledging to deliver the next batch of machines to new customers within the next three to four months.

The Solihull based firm, owned by Indian conglomerate TVS, have already fulfilled all 29 outstanding orders for the Commando 961 Classic left over from the Stuart Garner era, with new bikes purchased today set to be available for customers to ride in March.

“The Commando is available now, it just needs to be SVA’d [single vehicle approval] and registered, so someone buying a bike today can ride it in spring,” Dr Hentschel said.

Norton Commando 961

Things are also coming together for the £44,000 V4SV superbike, with Hentschel adding: “We have had some final supply chain problems for the V4, where we have now got parts in just this week, so we can now start producing these bikes for customers.

“The V4, if we focus on our commitment to deposit holders and V4SS customers [the bike created by the previous Norton operation before its collapse] will also be in the next three to four months.”

Understandably, the Norton chief says he wants to close this chapter of the company’s past, but not to the detriment of build quality, saying: “I know we will be successful because we have a strong brand, we are doing the right things and we are not in a rush.

Norton CEO Dr Robert Hentschel sitting at a table

“I would like to deliver a proper job here. I would like to make a step-by-step successful, properly driven brand.”

Plug-in future

Away from petrol power, MCN also asked about the future of electric bikes. Back in June 2022, the firm announced a bold 30-month project to build electrics in the UK, co-funded by a Government scheme called Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) 19. But where will Norton sit in the battery market? Hentschel explains:

“If you look at the high-performance, or standard motorcycle configurations in EV, you still have the problems with weight and range. I think that there will be, for the next 10 years, a strong tendency to go for internal combustion engines.

“But the commuting segment and lower performance electric segment is catching up very fast,” he added. “You don’t see that here in Europe, but you do see it in Asia and the whole thing will affect us.

Norton Commando 961 front left

“We are working on both,” Hentschel went on. “We have to bring desirable products to the market. You can have a desirable product in both segments.

“It’s not about being just a commuter, it’s about creating something unique that people want to buy, and creating emotions.”

‘It’s not the future’: Norton reveal why Atlas parallel-twin had to make way for electric bike plans

First published 13 October 2022 by Dan Sutherland

Norton COO, Christian Gladwell

Norton Chief Commercial Officer Christian Gladwell has told MCN that their promising Atlas 650 range was shelved in order to focus on future electric models.

“We didn’t take that decision lightly… but it’s not really the future,” It’s a great bike and we’d sell a few, but the future’s electric,” he told MCN.  

The Atlas was unveiled in April 2019 towards the end of the Stuart Garner era. It was set to be an entry-level, retro-styled naked, priced between £9995 and £11,995 and attracted numerous deposits.

Gladwell said: “It was tough but if we wanted to invest in that little 650 twin, that would mean diverting resource, money, time, and people onto that, whereas the writing’s on the wall [for combustion].”

Although a decision likely to disappoint Norton fans, Gladwell did confirm that we would still see more combustion engined machines arriving from the firm, to live alongside battery power.

“We don’t think combustion engines and electric motors are mutually exclusive. We think they can exist together.

Norton Atlas Nomad and Ranger

 “We’re not looking to make an electric motorcycle, we’re looking to make a completely new experience with electric transportation,” explained Gladwell.

Just one of the new combustion bikes is the 185bhp V4 CR – a stripped-back café racer version of their £44,000 V4SV superbike. “That’s a limited edition and there’s only 200 of those,” he confirmed.

Exactly when that will be though remains to be seen, with Gladwell acknowledging Norton have been hit with delays on parts not produced in-house.

“We’re as frustrated as everyone and we want to be able to launch the V4 CR this year, but we’re working in an environment where I could turn up to work on Monday and our Head of Procurement says: ‘That supplier in Taiwan has gone pop, and just doesn’t exist anymore. We’ve got to source all of this again.’”

He added: “It’s going to be a bumpy road for the next few years for everyone in manufacturing because there’s some real geo-political issues that need rebalancing.”

Norton CEO Dr Robert Hentschel spoke to MCN last month to confirm the Atlas would not be going ahead, saying: “Our passion and focus has been to develop a new range that will deliver the brand into the modern era.

“We have notified all individuals who placed a deposit for the Atlas with the previous company ownership, NMUL. We are advising these individuals to make a claim with the NMUL Liquidators [BDO].”

Norton fulfil the Commando backlog left over from the Stuart Garner era

First published on 29 June 2022 by Dan Sutherland

29 Norton Commandos are being built

Norton Motorcycles have announced they are fulfilling the 29 outstanding orders for the Commando 961 Classic left over from the Stuart Garner era.

Indian giant TVS purchased Norton in 2020 for £16 million and have since reengineered the old V4SS superbike created by the former Norton operation, before re-releasing it on sale as the £44,000 V4SV.

Attention has now turned to the parallel-twin Commando range, and they have begun by honouring the 29 outstanding deposits placed with the previous company, despite having no legal obligation to do so.

Norton say that these Commandos have been developed and improved at the firm’s new multi-million-pound production facility in the West Midlands, with the first bikes already reaching customers.

Despite this, the revised machines do not meet Euro5 and so have been sold through the Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval (MSVA) process.

The firm would not be drawn on the price or any of the specifications of the bikes, due to their limited volume. Nor would they confirm whether the Solihull factory would move onto producing the V4CR concept into a reality once this run of Commandos was complete.

Revealed last December, the V4CR is a naked version of the SV superbike and uses the same 1200cc 72-degree V4 engine, which produces a claimed 185bhp @ 12,500rpm and 92.5lb.ft @ 9000rpm.

That said, Norton did confirm that production plans would be announced soon, with a new Commando 961 included in the plans.

‘We’re not here as a greatest hits band’: MCN sits down with Norton’s new CCO

First published on 29 June 2022 by Dan Sutherland

It’s been 18 months since TVS Motor Company purchased Norton Motorcycles for £16million. In that time, the Indian multinational has built a new 7300 square metre factory in Solihull, and a redesigned and re-engineered V4SV superbike has gone on sale for £44,000.

But that’s not just the beginning, with an ambitious 30-month plan to build electric bikes in the UK announced on Friday, June 17.

To find out what else is on the cards, MCN sat down with Christian Gladwell, who was officially announced as Norton’s new Chief Commercial Officer in June, 2022.

Norton CCO, Christian Gladwell

“There’s an awful lot of goodwill towards this company and towards this brand and the name Norton – even despite relatively recent history and we need to be respectful,” Gladwell told MCN.

“There is an opportunity to build a sustainable global business for the future here that we can all be proud of. And one that even goes past the progress we’ve made to date.”

Referring to the V4SV superbike, that is now available to order, Gladwell refused to reveal exactly what would line up alongside it next, but did say that we can expect to see some old names returning very soon.

Norton V4SV in Manx silver right side

“We have chosen to look back over the products from our back catalogue. We’ve chosen to re-release a few edited highlights,” the Commando-owning CCO continued. “They will be completely reimagined and reengineered.”

When asked if these would be Commando models, which were a mainstay of the old Norton line-up under the ownership of Stuart Garner, he said: “I can’t give you the names but, as I said, nothing is going to surprise you in the first few steps that we take.”

But it’s not all about new bikes, with Gladwell also confirming work is going on behind the scenes to enhance the very framework of the business, saying: “We’re still going to be a design-led company.

Norton Commando 961 California

“Nortons have always looked different, they will remain looking different moving forward, and you will see that in the product plan.

“We’re not here as a kind of greatest hits band… we have a number of new products that will come out in the fullness of time,” he said.

One of these changes is an expanding design team, set to grow by a claimed 75% in the next 12 months. They will be utilising 3D printing and virtual reality to develop future Norton models.

Norton at Motorcycle Live 2021

“The quality needs to exceed the customer expectation and I think we’re all on the same page when we say historically that might not have happened,” Gladwell continued. “And that obviously bleeds down from everything from customer service, to experience, and even what the rockers are made from! 

“There’s a step-change coming with the new products that we come out with,” he added. “I can’t speak on the specifics here, but I’ve seen them and… They are stunningly beautiful.

“The design principles are lived and breathed and we’re very proud of them and it will remain that way going forward.”

Order books open for Norton’s V4SV superbike

First published on 22 June 2022 by Dan Sutherland

2022 Norton V4SV superbike

Norton Motorcycles have announced that order books are now open for their £44,000 V4SV superbike, with first builds prioritising those orders placed before TVS Motor Company acquired the British name back in April 2020.

The V4SV is the first Norton to roll off a production line in 18 months, after the new owners TVS were forced to meticulously reengineer the bike following the discovery of 35 individual faults in the previous V4 SS, built under former company owner, Stuart Garner.

“It is a hugely proud moment to announce that customers can now buy the re-engineered V4SV,” Norton CEO, Dr. Robert Hentschel said. “I would like to thank the Norton team, customers and fans for their continued support for joining us on this journey in bringing Norton and V4SV to life.

“We have seen the unveiling of a new state-of-the-art facility, the introduction of an entirely new engineering and quality control process, the creation of new jobs, and now the launch of the re-engineered V4SV.”

The new superbike is powered by a liquid-cooled 1200cc, 72-degree V4, producing a claimed 185bhp at 12,500rpm. It will be available as either a ‘Carbon’ or ‘Manx Silver’ option, with the performance, styling, and stance on offer making it a comparative rival to Triumph’s Speed Triple 1200RR which starts at £17,950.

Outside of its colour, the Manx Silver bike differs from the Carbon option thanks to its red OZ Racing forged aluminium wheels. The blacked-out Carbon model gets carbon fibre BST rims.

Other neat features include a carbon fibre fuel tank and body work on both designs, a TIG-welded aluminium tube frame handcrafted and polished to a mirror finish.

“Norton has always been and will always remain a design lead brand, which is why this bike is undoubtedly the most beautiful on the market,” Hentschel continued. “It’s more than just looks, though. It is the ultimate British superbike, a bike that will excite riders from the moment they get on, to the moment they get off.

“However, this is just the beginning for us when it comes to taking this iconic brand forward.” 

The new bikes will be built at Norton’s 7300sqm Solihull HQ, which was developed as part of a £100million investment from TVS and promises the capacity to deliver up to 8000 machines annually. Exactly how many SVs will be built and how quickly an order will become reality remains unknown at this time.

That cash injection has also led to a claimed new engineering and quality control process, which has in turn created more jobs in the local community. In fact, over the last two years, the team have looked at more than 20,000 parts and hired two master engine builders responsible for every motor off the production line.

Once they’re up and running, each bike is then put through its paces by a new testing regime, including multiple runs on a UK track built up of cobbled stones and varied surfaces – to make sure nothing falls off or breaks. 

To register your interest in a V4SV, visit

Norton Motorcycles CEO responds to £100m cash boost

First published on May 4 2022 by Dan Sutherland

Norton CEO, Dr Robert Hentschel, has expressed his delight at TVS Motor Company’s recent £100m investment in the British biking brand.

“Norton is hugely excited by the investment announcement made by TVS Motor Company,” Hentschel told MCN. “This investment shows in no uncertain terms TVS’s dedication and ambition for the business, which we support unequivocally.”

TVS purchased Norton for £16m in April 2020 and have already built a new manufacturing plant in Solihull and set about re-engineering the 961 Commando and V4 SV superbike ahead of their upcoming launches.

This latest cash investment was announced on April 22, however both the new factory and motorcycle redevelopments have already come out of this pot. Norton will not be drawn on how much money remains at this time.

“It will also have a major impact on the local area regarding employment opportunities,” the Norton boss continued. “A significant number of jobs [are] expected to be created in the next three years, both directly at Norton and indirectly through businesses involved in the production of Norton Motorcycles.

“This funding will have a huge impact on the business in terms of our product road map, electrification strategy and broader long term 10-year plan.”

TVS Motor Company aim for 300 new jobs in three years with latest £100m investment in Norton

First published on April 25 2022 by Dan Sutherland

Exploring the new UK Norton Factory

TVS Motor Company have announced a £100m investment into the Norton Motorcycles brand, leading to an estimated 250 to 300 new jobs in the next three years.

The Indian automotive giant purchased the Norton in April 2020 and have already invested some of this cash into a new manufacturing plant in Solihull, as well as reengineering the 961 Commando and V4 SV superbike ahead of their upcoming launches.

“This investment will be towards electrification, cutting edge technology, world class vehicles, manufacturing, sustainability and the future of mobility,” Joint Managing Director of TVS, Sudarshan Venu said. “The investments, spread over the next few years, will result in an exciting range of products for the global market.”

Alongside jobs at Norton, Venu went on to speak about fresh opportunities across the motorcycle industry – with the new investment expected to bring a further 500 to 800 indirect jobs across the supply chain.

The fresh funding was announced at the same time as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s most recent visit to India, which took place on April 21-22. Exactly how much of this money has already been spent remains unavailable at this time.

“Trade and investment between the UK and India is creating good jobs and sustaining livelihoods in both of our countries,” Johnson said. “I’m very pleased that TVS Motor Company has decided to join the legions of Indian companies investing in the UK, boosting our future mobility sector and driving economic growth.”

Norton’s New Year’s revolution: CEO talks public perception, model redevelopment and 2022 production

First published on 15 December 2021 by Dan Sutherland

Norton's new V4CR concept on display at Motorcycle Live 2021

Norton motorcycles have set clear targets for 2022, with plans to begin production of their V4SV superbike at their new Solihull plant and a continued focus on restoring faith in the brand after the turbulent Stuart Garner years.

MCN sat down with new Norton CEO Dr Robert Hentschel at Motorcycle Live at the NEC – the firm’s first public appearance at a national show since Indian company TVS Motor bought the brand for £16m in April 2020.

Despite only stepping into the hot seat at the start of June, Hentschel has overseen the completion of their new multi-million-pound Midlands factory and helped reveal a new V4CR concept – a naked version of the £44,000 V4SV superbike, making its physical debut at the show.

Norton's stand at Motorcycle Live 2021

“The V4CR was one of the sketches I really liked from the beginning,” the Norton boss told MCN. “This bike is at the ‘end of concept’ phase, meaning we cannot promise it will end up looking exactly like that.”

Alongside showcasing concept models, the Norton boss also said events like Motorcycle Live were important for the perception of the company, adding: “We want to have a premium brand; we want to have a luxury brand and we want to build-up trust.”

Elsewhere, the firm are also looking to begin production of their re-engineered, limited-run V4SV superbike in the new year, after 35 defects were discovered on the old V4SS model produced prior to TVS involvement.

Hentschel continued: “We are collecting enquiries and orders for the V4SV. That’s exactly where we want to start at the beginning of next year, with the production of the V4SV.

Norton CEO Dr Robert Hentschel

“The first half year that I’ve been here we’ve focused on the re-engineering of the old bikes.”

He went on to say that more derivatives of current models would be considered over the next two years, before looking at all-new models. But it doesn’t stop there: “Later, we will enter the engineering phase of the V4CR. There might be an opportunity to see some of those next year.”

But the V4 models are not the only Norton motorcycles in the spotlight, with the parallel twin 961 Commandos also under the microscope and currently not listed as models on the company website.

Hentschel explained: “I would like to finalise at the end of this year, a clear view on whether we go ahead with the 961. That’s still an open question because we’re looking at the re-engineering of that bike.”

Norton are now refining their production processes at the new factory in Solihull with V4SV test bikes being built right now.

‘I am determined to make Norton big and successful’ says new CEO

First published 12 November 2021 by Andy Calton

Dr Robert Hentschel speaking to MCN

With a spanking new factory comes a fresh start and expectations of spanking new bikes as the world’s attention turns to what will roll out of Norton’s high-tech new Solihull factory.

CEO Robert Hentschel showed MCN around the facility stationed in the heart of the Midlands and revealed: “We are all about craftmanship and plan to build bikes that we and our customers can be proud of.”

Norton’s forward-thinking boss proudly showed off the new assembly line as pre-production machines were being bolted expertly together.

The new V4 SV, a re-engineered version of ‘old’ Norton’s V4 SS, is very close to going into production with a limited run of 200 planned. Owners of the original V4 have been offered the new machine at a ‘very special price’ of £10,000, with the return of their original machine – which was found to have 35 defects – a condition of the offer.

“We don’t want to have unsafe machines in the market,” explained Hentschel. And with the new V4 SV expected to cost close to £44,000, he feels this is a major show of loyalty to customers of the previous Norton company, despite new owners TVS having no legal obligation to replace or fix the original machine.

Chatting with Norton CEO Robert Hentschel

With just 200 of the SV models being built, Hentschel expects about 70 to be up for grabs once existing customers and deposit-holders have been served. “We are all about process-guided craftmanship now and I am determined to build Norton into a big and successful company.”

Hentschel also plans to pull the covers off a derivative of the V4 SV at December’s Motorcycle Live as the company begin to ramp up production. MCN predicts a naked V4 streetfighter… hold on tight!

But with Euro5 compliance on new Nortons probably two years away, Single Vehicle Approval, means numbers will be fairly limited to begin with. “Once we have Euro5 in place, the doors will really open,” added Hentschel. “We think we can build 8000 bikes a year here [at the new facility] and we will be ramping up production towards the end of 2023 and 2024.”

Norton's new quality control process

Hentschel also revealed that despite earlier suggestions of the Solihull base being temporary, that he sees it as a longer-term solution.

“It’s too good to be a short-term thing. We want it to be more than just a factory. We want it to be a whole Norton experience. A place where people can look around on a tour or see bikes being worked on and really embrace what Norton means.”

Once the V4 SV and Commando 961 orders have been fulfilled, attention will turn to getting the Atlas models ready for production. Beyond that the Superlight 650 twin will be revisited and then new models revealed. Hentschel confirmed that an ambitious 10-year product plan has been signed off and there has already been talk of an electric Norton motorcycle.

TVS-owned Norton open the doors to a new British factory and a bright new future

Exploring the new UK Norton Factory

Norton are back in business with a state-of-the-art, multi-million pound production facility in the Midlands.

Since Indian company TVS Motor bought Norton for £16m in April 2020, a serious amount of work has been going on to get the company back on its feet.

After a rollercoaster ride under the ownership of Stuart Garner, stability seems to be returning with sustainable plans to build various models about to come to fruition. The first phase is to establish a production line and fulfil orders placed before the takeover.

Building a Norton Commando on the production line

TVS have assessed all of the previous models in the range and the re-engineered V4 is now set to go into production. The Atlas is expected to follow once a full evaluation of the bike has been completed, with the Superlight under the spotlight after that.

New models will then follow as Norton hopefully establish themselves as a trustworthy player in the market.

The new operation sits nestled amongst distribution warehouses for high street retailers in the Solar Park industrial estate in Solihull.

Once through the doors of the 75,000 square-foot facility, there’s a real sense of purpose and professionalism not seen for a long time at a Norton plant. As it becomes fully operational, the factory should be capable of making 8000 bikes a year.

New and old Norton models at the new factory

It’s taken a year-and-a-half to move from the always informal-looking factory in the grounds of Donington Hall (Covid lockdowns did not help) but with 142 staff, and counting, the difference is cottage industry versus corporate big business.

And with the finance seemingly in place to start getting serious and a go-getting boss in Robert Hentschel, it does indeed seem like Norton’s troubled past is exactly that… the past.

Sudarshan Venu, Joint Managing Director of TVS, said: “The opening of the new headquarters represents a significant step forward for Norton Motorcycles and is a proud moment for everyone. We are creating the foundations for a sustainable long-term future for the marque.

Engine work at the Norton factory

“We are setting out to create a bold future for the company, our employees, our customers and our partners that lives up to the highest expectations, enabling Norton to once again become the real global force its legacy deserves.”

The new facility boasts a thoroughly modern production line where many different models will be made plus top-notch testing booths.

Quality control is at the forefront of everything and some of the key production areas are even pressurised to keep dirt from getting to sensitive parts of the engine. There are also large office areas and everything you’d expect from a mainstream manufacturer.

Robert Hentschel, CEO of Norton Motorcycles, added: “The new Norton Motorcycles headquarters is a true embodiment of this iconic British marque. The facility is home to design, engineering, purchasing, sales, marketing, and support departments, as well as the highly skilled production team overseeing the build of our new generation of motorcycles. It is the perfect platform to re-energise our business as we lead the Norton brand to onward success.

A line of Nortons at the UK factory

“This investment demonstrates our unwavering commitment to the motorcycles we build. We will not compromise on quality, and we continue to work alongside every supplier to ensure that our high standards are always met.

“With this new HQ opening, Norton is now fit for the future – which will see us producing world-class motorcycles that are true to the unrivalled legacy of Norton.”

It’s a far cry from the ultimately disastrous Donington Hall era of Norton, and it finally looks like the brand has the backing and people to achieve its full potential.

Norton CEO outlines ambitious racing plans and ‘understands V4 owners’ frustration’

First published on 15 July 2021 by Andy Calton

Norton CEO Robert Hentschel on his own Commando

The new boss of Norton has outlined ambitious plans for the firm and a renewed determination to treat owners of the V4SS bought from the ‘old’ company (NMUL) fairly, in an interview with MCN.

Dr Robert Hentschel has only been in the hot seat since June 1 but has already got to grips with key issues and is ready to take Norton forward with a state-of-the-art new factory and a range of exciting new models on the drawing board.

But he is also fully committed to coming up with a solution for customers who have been left with a V4SS that has all sorts of problems and been deemed unsafe to be used on the road. New Norton, bought by Indian firm TVS Motor Company for £16m just over a year ago, examined the machine and found 35 defects.

Hentschel said: “The V4SS is where we have the noise in the market and the problems with the bikes and I can understand the owners’ frustration. We have to fully understand the faults of the bike produced by the previous company, which are quite complex.

The new Norton hope to progress the Superlight model

“We already identified 35 faults in bikes we investigated. We are in the phase of the iterative process of testing and re-engineering the new product with quality and safety in mind.

“I cannot promise, but I am pushing to start producing the new V4 bike by the end of this year. I understand the feedback and we need to understand our commercial position on the whole case. We are not responsible from a legal perspective, but I want to find a solution for the owners and a solution that is acceptable to all.

“The special price for owners of the old bike on the new bike will be confirmed with the V4SS owners once the liquidators inform us of their next steps. I have no impact on that process. There will be a sum that the V4SS owners will get. We will take that under consideration when deciding our special price.

“Norton has supported the owners of NMUL V4SS bikes during the administration and subsequent liquidation – and will continue to do so. Our special price? We don’t know what that will look like yet. But we want to find a solution for them to get a re-engineered V4.”

Hentschel also revealed that the Solihull factory will be officially opened in September with plans to build 5000-8000 bikes a year once a new product plan has been developed and approved.

He also expects to unveil a new version of the V4, a naked model seems most likely, at the NEC in Birmingham this November with a bold new range due to be revealed towards the end of 2022.

In the meantime, the team of 132 staff are working hard to assess the viability of re-engineering the Atlas models and the Superlight 650 in a bid to begin production of these models next year.

Norton Atlas and Ranger models

Hentschel added: “We are working step-by-step to get everything right. We have to prepare the organisation to deliver a complex plan. That will take some time. Everything has to be aligned to TVS so the new product plan will be revealed at the EICMA bike show in 2022.

“I want to build a sustainable and successful company. We want to be a player in the global motorcycle market and we want to position the brand in interesting markets. It’s important to see a bike on the horizon and recognise it as a Norton. But it also has to be a sustainable approach.”

Hentschel, a keen biker who bought his own Norton Commando 961 back in 2016 after visiting Donington Hall, also hopes to reveal plans for racing soon and wouldn’t rule out a return to the TT in the near future.

“I think racing is important to keep brand value high. Norton seems to be an undestroyable brand, but at some point we have to contribute to keep it where it is or to take it higher.

“We want Norton to be using state-of-the-art technology and racing is part of that; it makes a statement. But we are not yet ready to make a public statement on this. We need to have a competitive product because I would like to win!”

Former Norton director Simon Skinner struck off

First published on 15 July 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Former Norton director Simon Skinner

Simon Skinner, a former director and Head of Design at Norton Motorcycles UK Ltd (now renamed NMUL Realisations Ltd.), has been disqualified from being a member of the directors register for what took place at the company in 2019.

In a statement on the Insolvency Service website, it says that Skinner has been removed from the director’s register for five years for allowing owners’ bikes to be stripped of their parts for use on other motorcycles.

This practice had been alleged for some time but it is the first time that it has been publicly acknowledged that a director of the business allowed it to happen.

In the ruling, the Insolvency Service states that: “Between 09 September 2019 and 12 November 2019 Simon Peter Skinner caused and/or allowed NMUL Realisations Limited to remove parts off of at least six customers’ fully paid for and owned motorcycles which had been returned under warranty (“warranty customers”) with values totalling at least £123,000, for use on other customers’ motorcycles resulting in the motorcycles of the warranty customers remaining incomplete as at the date of Administration.”

There is no mention of other directors’ involvement, including that of Stuart Garner who is still listed as an active director of Spondon Engineering Ltd. and Manorcrest Ltd.

It has also come to light that Stuart Garner was declared bankrupt on May 26, 2021, at Birmingham Crown Court. The petition was brought by Leicester City Council. This now raises further questions including what will happen with the £14m in pension funds he was instructed to repay by the Pensions Ombudsman.

Norton ‘unable’ to repair V4SS: New CEO says situation changed after more faults found

First published on 30 June 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

New Norton CEO Robert Hentschel

Norton Motorcycle Co. Ltd have told owners of V4s who received bikes from the previous company that they will be unable to repair their bikes after finding more faults than initially anticipated.

The news was delivered in a letter to owners by the new CEO, Robert Hentschel, in his first communication since taking over last month. In the letter Hentschel said that since discovering 35 individual faults with the V4SS bikes built by the previous company, NMUL, they have been searching for the best way forward for the bikes, despite having no legal responsibility to do so.

Initially they said they believed the best option for owners was for Norton to repair these bikes however Hentschel say this “changed as more material defects were identified” and that owners best route forward now is a claim against NMUL, which is in liquidation.

A Norton V4SS is assembled on the old production line

Norton say they simply cannot reliably source all of the parts needed to repair the existing bikes to a safe standard. He also reiterated their previous statement that bikes should not be ridden on the road to the number and severity of potential defects.

So what does this mean for new V4s? Hentschel says that any new bikes built will be completely reengineered and will not be continuations of the NMUL bike. They have not yet set a start date for production but are hoping to begin by the end of 2021.

As a gesture of goodwill Henschel says all existing V4SS owners will be offered a new V4 at a ‘special price’ once the liquidation of the old company has been completed, although they have yet to confirm just how special the price will be.

Update: Norton clarifies position on offer to first-generation V4 SS owners

First published on 28 June 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

Norton's new factory

In the June 9 issue of MCN, we wrote that Norton Motorcycle Co. Ltd (the new firm formed after the acquisition of specific Norton assets by Indian giant TVS Motor Company) had offered owners of first-generation V4SS models built by the previous Norton business a discount on a new, heavily revised model.

Further to this announcement from the firm, Norton Motorcycle Co. Ltd later confirmed to MCN that they would actually offer first-gen V4SS customers a straight swap, with the new company taking the old bikes, then replacing them with new ones and dealing direct with the old Norton firm’s liquidators to recover their costs.

Unfortunately, even though this information was provided in a written statement to MCN from Norton’s official spokesperson, the firm have since retracted the statement and confirmed to MCN that the information they provided was inaccurate.

The person responsible for releasing the inaccurate information has now left the business. Although MCN acted in good faith by reporting the content of the official statement released to us, we wish to apologise for the inevitable confusion that has since arisen as a result of Norton Motorcycle Co. Ltd changing their stance.

Despite repeated requests for an official statement relating to the next stage in unpicking this convoluted situation, none has yet been forthcoming. New Norton CEO, Robert Henschel, has only recently taken over from Interim CEO John Russell, and we hope this will accelerate a swift and clear resolution to the current confusion. As soon as there is more information, we will report on it immediately.

New Norton bosses want to simplify process of fixing existing V4SS bikes

First published on 11 June 2021 by Dan Sutherland

A Norton V4SS is assembled on the old production line

Norton’s new owners are assessing the total cost of repair work to existing V4SS models and working with the liquidators to make the process of fixing the bikes simpler.

The Norton business, now under the ownership of Indian giant TVS, have identified at least 35 major defects with machines built by previous incumbents, Norton Motorcycles UK Ltd (NMUL).

Interim CEO John Russell wrote to all those affected on Thursday, June 3, to say that the firm were currently working through all of the identified problems with bikes, in order to help owners recoup the cost of repairs from the liquidator BDO.

“We have already recommended that BDO take a broad-brush approach and accept that every V4SS has each of the 35 faults we identified,” the letter states. “BDO’s letter to owners shows that they have agreed with our recommendation.”

When TVS purchased the rights to the Norton name last April, they set up a new company, meaning no legal obligation to existing customers, with any outstanding warranty work remaining the responsibility of the old company – which is currently going through liquidation.

However, as the severity of the faults was exposed, the new firm have been working to assist the receivers and owners in finding a resolution.

Seven of the identified issues could result in the V4 engine seizing, with three more causing potential fires and others a loss of control. The DVSA say that 55 bikes are affected, and new Norton have strongly urged owners not to ride their machines on safety grounds, and recommended they disconnect the bike’s battery until the issues are resolved.

Russell continues in his letter to owners: “We have been supporting BDO by detailing each of the defects and the repair required. Our purpose is to persuade BDO to accept our assessment of the repair cost for all 35 defects on all V4SS bikes.

“If we succeed, you will then be in a position to complete the proof of debt form that you have been provided with, without having to go to the time and considerable expense of engaging your own expert motorcycle engineer.

“The final sum you receive will be determined by the liquidation process and is not something we can comment on or influence.”

The Norton factory

Away from the ongoing assessment of repair costs, the letter also confirmed that a second-generation V4SS was on its way, with pre-production models set to be ready in July, ahead of production starting at the company’s new Solihull headquarters in August.

Russell continued: “The bike will be fully re-engineered, tried, tested and worthy of carrying the Norton name. By the end of June we hope to be in a position to present an offer to all V4SS owners to buy one of the new bikes at a special price.”

At the time MCN went to print on the evening of Monday, June 7, details of the offer remained unclear. V4SS owner Shaun Taylor voiced concerns though, saying: “I highly suspect that a pre-condition will be for owners with bikes to hand back those machines to achieve the discount.

“Should the assumption be correct, then in effect, the generation one bike has been reduced down to scrap value, and owners will be tens of thousands of pounds out of pocket.”

Since that initial consultation, Norton have confirmed to MCN that the offer will see customers offered a straight swap for their old machine; with the firm taking the returned first-generation V4SS bikes and dealing with the liquidators themselves to receive the pay-out needed to help repair the bike’s faults. A new V4 will then be built for customers at no additional cost.

A spokesperson said: “Norton proposes that it offers customers a straight swap. ‘New Norton’ will take affected NMUL V4SS and will deal directly with the Liquidators (BDO) to receive the pay-out, rather than expecting claimants to make the claim and handle the process themselves. Norton will then build a new V4 motorcycle for customers at no additional cost.”

This stance differs from the one taken on Monday, when Norton claimed the offer was a discount on a new machine and a goodwill gesture for owners. They insisted there was no requirement to hand over an existing bike. MCN is now chasing clarification on exactly what will happen to repaired first-generation V4s, as well as the options available to those owners who don’t wish to hand their bikes back.

Norton reassures owners as up to 35 faults found on existing V4 SS models

First published on 19 May 2021 by Jordan Gibbons

John Russell inspects a Norton Commando in the new factory

The TVS owned Norton Motorcycle Co Ltd. (NMCL) are working hard to fix defects with the V4SS after a raft of complaints from owners of bikes built by the previous owners. Only now, after months of assessment, has it come to light just how many issues there are with the bikes made by the previous owners, Norton Motorcycles UK Ltd (NMUL), with as many as 35 faults found on the existing machines.

When TVS bought the rights to the Norton name and their bikes, they set up a new company rather than buying the existing one, which means they have no legal obligation to customers of NMUL. Despite this, from the start NMCL have always maintained they will do what they can to support buyers. As part of this process, they looked at and tested the existing V4S. After finding numerous problems with the bikes they informed both the DVSA and the liquidators, BDO. This prompted the liquidators of NMUL to send forms to existing owners in anticipation of claims they may wish to make against NMUL for their bikes to be fixed. The issues with the bikes is the sole responsibility of NMUL regardess, NMCL ensures MCN that they are working hard to support the liquidators by providing technical information relating to defects that have been identified in the V4SS.

“As part of an ongoing quality assessment and product development program for V4-SS models manufactured by NMUL Realisations Limited, we have identified certain defects and safety concerns on V4-SS bikes sold to customers in 2019 and in early-2020,” says John Russell, Interim CEO of Norton Motorcycle Company Ltd.

“Under the guidance of the DVSA, we are in direct contact with all affected registered V4-SS owners to address the safety issues in relation to the faults that have been identified.

“Since acquiring the company last year, we have been carrying out due diligence and product review protocols that we follow to strict measure in order to ensure the safety of the customers that ride the motorbikes which bear the famous Norton name. As a result of that process, we have discovered 35 potential defects in total that fall into one of three categories, either a safety recall, a check and replace if required, or a service action. While the ‘new Norton’ management was not involved in the production and supply of these bikes and is not responsible for the cause of these faults, we are voluntarily taking certain actions under the guidance of the DVSA to assist with potential safety problems and to ensure the good name of Norton continues.

“We appreciate that the owners of these bikes will be concerned. We are advised by the Liquidators that affected owners may be able to make a claim for the costs of repairs to NMUL Realisations Ltd (in Liquidation) as part of the Liquidation and have worked with the Liquidators to ensure that those owners have been told how such claims should be made.”

Norton build momentum: 110 workers employed as Solihull factory begins Commando production

First published 13 May 2021 by Andy Calton

Norton factory gains momentum

Norton’s new Midlands factory is taking shape with bikes being built and a grand opening planned for the near future.

Despite Covid restrictions affecting development of the new factory in Solihull, the company – bought by TVS for £16 million a year ago – are gaining momentum with 110 workers now on board.

The factory has 7000m2 of covered space with scope to expand, and there’s a large manufacturing area with the capacity to build up to 8000 bikes a year. There are also design studios, an engineering office and a service facility.

Norton are currently building the last Commando run and interim CEO John Russell says that trial builds have started on the V4s.

There are about 70 previous orders to fulfil of the top-of-the-range V4 and then a further 80 will be built to bring the total number of V4s to 200, which was the old firm’s plan. These will be homologated via Single Vehicle Approval. Norton say any future V4s will then go through the full homologation (Euro5) process.

The company are also still developing the Atlas 650 models and see them as a key target. A licensed out version of its twin cylinder engine has already been seen in the Zongshen Cyclone RX6.

Norton Interim CEO John Russell in the new factory

The management team at Norton are still considering race plans. Although they have made no secret of their desire to compete in road races such as the TT and they are working out whether to progress the supercharged 650cc engine concept announced by the old Donington-based company.

Russell said: “Plans are proceeding at a pace and we have made remarkable progress on factory construction in light of the restrictions that we have complied with to make sure everyone is kept safe during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Construction of bikes at our new facility began earlier this year to honour the pre-existing orders for customers who placed deposits on bikes with old Norton but never received them. We see fulfilling those orders as one of the first key steps in our journey to rebuild customer trust.

“Then the plan is to officially open the facility in the coming months, and we are on a very positive trajectory to continue building bikes at the most advanced manufacturing facility that Norton has ever had.”

John Russell inspects a Norton Commando in the new factory

Norton name new bosses

Russell will step down from his position as Norton’s interim CEO to make way for Dr Robert Hentschel who joins the British firm from Valmet Automotive. A new role of Chief Technical Officer has also been created and will be filled by Vittorio Urcioli whose CV includes former roles as Head of Powertrain at Lotus Cars and Project Leader at Ferrari and Aprilia Racing.

Sudarshan Venu, Joint Managing Director of TVS Motors, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank John Russell for his accomplished leadership, experienced judgement and clear vision that he has displayed during his time as interim CEO of Norton.

“Under John’s tenure, with investment and support from TVS, Norton has returned to a firm footing and made marked improvements to engineering and product quality, which will be seen in the updated V4SS that will be launched soon.

“In addition, we have established a new, state-of-the-art global design, engineering, manufacturing and sales and marketing HQ in Solihull. Thanks to John and many other colleagues’ exceptional endeavour, Norton is poised to move to the next stage of its rebirth and deliver significant growth.”

New high-tech Norton factory heads for March completion

First published on 28 January, 2021 by Andy Calton

The Norton factory

Norton’s high-tech new headquarters is nearing completion and should be fully functional by the end of March.

Over 50 high quality, new jobs have already been created and more are expected to follow as the business activity grows providing a welcome boost to the local economy.

The site in Solar Park, Solihull is the most advanced facility that Norton has ever had after a multi-million pound investment from Norton’s Indian parent company, TVS Motor Company. It will be the most advanced manufacturing facility in the 122-year-old motorcycle brand’s history.

The premises will be the central hub for all of Norton operations, providing a permanent base for all staff. The new headquarters will be home to design, engineering, purchasing, sales, marketing, and support teams as well as the skilled production team that is resuming the manufacture of motorcycles. Some of the specialist tooling and equipment previously used by Norton has been carried over from the Donington premises to the new site in Solihull.

Norton will resume production of the Commando Classic model at the Solihull site, building a limited quantity to honour customers that had ordered and paid for a deposit on these bikes. Production of the V4SS will commence soon and the full opening of the facility is expected by the end of March.

Sudarshan Venu, Joint Managing Director of TVS Motors, said: “The opening of the new headquarters represents a significant step forward for Norton Motorcycles. The opening of this state-of-the-art facility will create the foundations for a sustainable long-term future of Norton. The new bikes will meet the world class standards our customers expect.

“2020 has been a tough year for the world but we are excited to be moving into our new home and we are delighted this has been created by the Norton and TVS teams in just nine months. This new facility underpinned by strong quality processes will produce bikes truly worthy of the illustrious Norton brand and take it into the future. We are setting out to create a future for the company, our employees, our customers and our partners that lives up to the highest expectations and enable Norton to once again become the real force its history deserves.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The arrival of Norton’s global headquarters to Solihull is a real vote of confidence in our region as we look to recover from the pandemic. It speaks volumes to the strides the West Midlands has taken forward in recent years that Norton has chosen to come home after more than a decade based outside the region.

“This investment not only re-establishes our historic partnership with Norton, but will set a world-class benchmark for exceptional motorcycle manufacturing at the heart of our region, creating hundreds of jobs in the process at what is an incredibly challenging time economically.

“This investment by Norton exemplifies what exactly we are trying to achieve with the partnership, and I am delighted to welcome the company back home.”

TVS Motor Company acquired Norton in April 2020 after the company went into administration in January 2020 after supply and production issues.

Norton ride again as production of Commando set to resume

First published 3 December 2020 by Andy Calton

John Russell, Norton CEO

New Norton motorcycles are about to roll off the production line after nearly 12 months of inactivity. Since April when Indian firm TVS bought Norton for £16m a huge amount of work has been going on behind the scenes to get the brand back on its feet. “The first bikes to be built will be 40 Commandos,” says the company’s interim CEO John Russell. “We have some of these on order from previous customers and there will probably be a few left over. It’s a bike people love.”

And those bikes will be built at a new facility in Solihull after the firm relocated from Hastings House at Donington Hall. Russell adds: “We want to change from a cottage industry to a credible motorcycle manufacturer. We have set up an interim factory in Solihull and are laying down the production lines now. Even though it is temporary (probably for the next 4-5 years) it will still probably be the best facility Norton have ever had.

“Architects are working to help us create a facility capable of producing high quality products. It is getting real now. It is a 20-year-old building suited to manufacturing. Production is about to start.”

Once the Commando orders have been fulfilled the outstanding V4 machines will be built. And then attention will turn to the Atlas.

“That bike still needs some development and we will be sourcing some of the components from different suppliers. It’s a bike that has the right weight and riding position to suit the less experienced and those wanting a bike without too much drama.

“That should see us through the next 18 months and then we will start looking at new opportunities. We want Norton to be quintessentially British. Self assured, sturdy, an Aston Martin rather than a Ferrari.

“We want there to be substance and we won’t just be sticking Union Jacks everywhere. We want to make great products that just so happen to be British and they will be manufactured in Britain. But we won’t always be buying British parts. The motorcycle industry is multi-national and you can’t always get the best tech in the UK.”

And, despite the rocky recent history of the company, Russell has been astounded by the positive reaction he’s been getting from suppliers, employees and even customers. “The positivity and trust has been staggering. The goodwill still exists and TVS has been warmly welcomed.”

Even Covid-19 has failed to knock the company too far off track. Russell reveals: “Doing everything remotely has been difficult. We’ve got a huge amount of support from India but it has been impressive how everyone has adapted.

“When you are trying to capture a passion for bikes it is more difficult doing that remotely. We have still managed to create that, but it has slowed us down a bit.”

TVS retained 55 of Norton’s original staff although some of them were furloughed as manufacturing stopped for a period. But Russell tells MCN: “Obviously we have not been able to manufacture anything for a while. But we are bringing them back now and we have close to 100 employees. That could rise to 200 in the next year.”

Norton customers react to administrator report: ‘I always had a little bit of hope’

First published 02 October 2020 by Andy Calton

Nearly nine months after Norton collapsed, customers are hopeful they may get a good outcome. In an update issued in September 2020, administrators BDO confirmed a £16m sale to Indian firm TVS and issued an update on the status of those who had ordered bikes.

Many customers of the old Stuart Garner-run company had been coming to terms with the fact they would lose the £40,000-plus they’d paid for their V4s. But things took a turn when they got letters from BDO asking if they still wanted to receive bikes.

“It finally looks like some sort of justice might be done,” said Stewart Campbell, who paid £44,000 last November. “If I do get the keys to that bike, I will ride off in my Union Jack underpants!

“I still want the bike. It’s a wonderful-looking thing and it’s British. It would take pride of place in my collection. I won’t see anything before the end of the year, maybe early next.

“I paid a deposit over two years ago and the full amount nearly a year ago. It would be an amazing thing to finally get the bike I have paid for. We have all been through a lot in recent times and having something like this to look forward to is very special. I have always had a little bit of hope, and it looks like that hope has paid off.”

Customers are counted as ‘unsecured creditors’, which puts them low down the list of those waiting to get paid, but as part of the buyout TVS agreed to continue with orders if customers wanted to do so.

If not, people have the option of remaining as unsecured creditors but BDO have admitted that although they do expect to make a payment, they are unable to say when it will be made or how much it might be worth.

John Phillips

Another man who paid in full up front is John Phillips and he’s not quite so upbeat about the situation: “We’ve been told we can have a bike, but not when. We’ve just been told we can have a bike or remain as a creditor. If we don’t take the bike, we have no idea how much money we will get back.

“It’s a shot in the dark really, but it looks like taking the bike might be the best option. And it sounds like TVS may well build them better than the previous owners. I just can’t get too excited about the whole thing as it’s been dragging on for over two years. I am not counting my chickens just yet.”

Another man left high and dry by Norton Motorcycles’ collapse in January is Kenneth Lawrence. He had a bike but sent it back for warranty work and was shocked when he was contacted by the administrators in February with pictures of a stripped-back machine.

He has been told he will get his bike back, fully restored, shortly and is awaiting further updates. It’s a nice gesture, because TVS were under no obligation to address previous warranty claims.

Things certainly look a lot better than they did six months ago for those who have shelled out vast sums of cash, but understandably, many are still refusing to hang out the bunting just yet.

New report on Norton debt: Deposit holders given choice while TVS show good intentions

First published on 23 September, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

Norton assembly line

Administrators BDO have released their latest report on Stuart Garner’s Norton operation, which confirms the exact details of the £16m sale to TVS, as well as how that money is expected to be distributed.

BDO detail that there were three serious offers but the TVS deal was the best. TVS paid £15m for the intellectual property, plus £1m for equipment and stock.

As part of their deal TVS agreed to honour previously paid deposits and complete those orders, subject to customers agreeing to transfer their deposits to the new business. Less any fees, that has put BDO in a position to begin distributing funds to creditors.

At the top of the tree are the secured creditors which include Metro Bank. At the time of the administration, Norton owed Metro Bank around £4.04m, which has now been repaid in full. Metro Bank has a cross-company guarantee, so should the administration of Donington Hall fail to pay back what that business owes Metro Bank (£3.07m), they can claim the full amount from what BDO have raised selling Norton to TVS.

Another claim has also arisen from Tudor Capital, who say they are owed money from a claim that was incorrectly marked as satisfied. BDO’s investigation has shown their claim is valid and they expect to make a repayment in the region of £1.7m.

Second in line are the preferential creditors, however given all the employees have been taken on by the new TVS backed business, it’s not expected they will make any claims.

Next up come the unsecured creditors, which include deposit holders. To date BDO have received £8.8m of claims from unsecured creditors, far exceeding the £6.2m held on record. Despite this, BDO say they expect to make a distribution to the unsecured creditors, but they don’t know how much this will be or when.

Deposit holders have been given the option of continuing their orders with the new TVS venture, or making a claim for their money. BDO also mention the nine customers whose bikes were in for warranty claims, some which had been stripped of parts. TVS have agreed to remedy some of these claims, despite having no obligation to do so.

Further claims have come from the trustees of three pension schemes, although BDO simply say they are receiving legal advice on the matter. For these people, it’s going to be a long time before the situation is complete.

Norton’s creditors’ new hope: Statement of Affairs suggests customers could get money back

First published on 30 July by Jordan Gibbons

Norton factory

Stuart Garner’s Statement of Affairs in regard to Norton Motorcycles UK Ltd. (subsequently renamed NMUL Realisations Ltd.) has been published, with the estimated figures suggesting there will be enough money to pay back all of their creditors.

A statement of affairs must be filed by a director when a company goes into administration and lays out the financial position of the company. The statement can contain estimated figures, however those estimates should be as accurate as possible based on the information available.

Garner’s statement was filed in April (but only just released publicly) and based on the estimated figures included within, suggests that if all the assets are realised then there will actually be a financial surplus once all the creditors are paid.

The statement estimates that that sales of various assets to TVS (as previously reported) will account for £14.1m, which combined with other assets but less the amount owed to Metro Bank, means they estimate £17.8m will be available to preferential creditors. With those creditors’ claims totalling just £3256, that means £17.8m is estimated to be available to pay unsecured creditors – i.e. those who paid deposits on motorcycles plus others, including HMRC.

The statement estimates the total unsecured creditors to be £12.9m, with around £3.4m of that from deposit holders (according to BDO’s last report). That means, should all the values be realised, the deposit holders should expect the return of all their money in full. Once all the creditors have been paid off, it’s estimated that £4.9m will remain in surplus to pay to shareholders.

A question remains over how long that will take. The £14.1m deal with TVS is done, but the sales of other assets could take some time. It’s also worth noting that this report was not created by administrators, BDO, so for the latest financial statement as well as their proposals, we’ll need to wait for the next creditor’s report, which is due in early September.

New Norton interim CEO reveals future ambitions for TVS-backed resurrection

First published on 1 July by Dan Sutherland

John Russell has been appointed Norton's interim CEO

Norton have big plans for the future, as well as a return to racing, according to their interim CEO. Following their acquisition of Norton in April, TVS employed John Russell to help lay the foundations for any future success. With decades of experience and a lifelong passion for Norton, the new man in charge spoke exclusively to MCN.

“There’s just so much magic about Norton,” Russell said. “I grew up in the era where Geoff Duke was still a current racer, the Manx Nortons had only just gone out of production and stopped their winning ways and Norton was still a very strong brand.

“The featherbed frame was talked about in hushed tones as some magical quality that most people didn’t understand. It was a legend in its own lifetime.”

Big plans with big twins

After a career in cars, Russell switched to two wheels joining Harley-Davidson, ultimately becoming Vice President and Managing Director of European operations. He first began working with TVS seven years ago and says the Indian firm were always looking to purchase a known motorcycle brand: “One of their interests was always the idea of buying a good brand that had the potential to be developed into a powerful force in the industry.”

Once Norton came up for grabs, the firm moved quickly, purchasing select assets in a £16m cash deal that saw manufacturing remain in the existing premises for six months, with plans for a new factory to follow.

“I was absolutely delighted to take on the Norton role. I haven’t had this much fun for a long time,” Russell continued. “When I came into Norton, there was this sense of lots of people frustrated with the problems in recent years, but this immense amount of goodwill.

“People everywhere who had a passion for it, owned a bike, wanted to own a bike, had a dad or a son that owned a bike and everybody having this sense of reverence and excitement around this fantastic motorcycle brand.”

Next steps

John says the team have begun looking at improvements to the production process and ownership experience, as well as bringing the latest 650 twin range to market alongside the existing models. This is despite Covid-19 forcing some staff onto furlough and others to work remotely.

Elsewhere, staff have been contacting existing customers with unfulfilled orders from the previous Norton ownership in an attempt to resolve the situation.

“The first aim of any company must be to try and deliver its customer orders and that’s what Sudarshan Venu (Joint Managing Director of TVS) said when we first bought the company and that’s what we’re hoping to do,” Russell explained.

“We didn’t buy it as a going concern – so there’s no legal liability there – but obviously if we can find a way of doing that, that’s what we want to do and we’re working our way through that process at the moment.”

Time for a return to racing?

Peter Hickman at the Isle of Man TT

Although refusing to be drawn on the firm’s new road-going model plans, interim CEO John Russell suggested that Norton would return to racing in some capacity, thanks to the brand’s rich motorsport history at events like the Isle of Man TT.

“We won the first TT – the oldest motorsport event in the world – and it’s so much part of Norton’s DNA,” he said. “Back again to my first childhood memories: Norton and TT were two brands that went together and were indivisible. We will have a racing thread to what we do and it will be an integral part of the business. What we do on the racetrack will inspire what we do on the road bikes and vice versa.

“What form that takes, how we get there, how we organise ourselves, the timing of that, none of that is determined as yet, but it’s definitely on the radar.”

A quick history lesson

Norton were founded way back in 1898 and steadily built their size, until WWII where they boomed off the back of a 100,000 bike order for Model 16Hs. Their most famous model was the Commando but, just like other British brands, they began to buckle under the weight of competition from Japanese bikes. The brand struggled on through the 1980s, but the whole operation folded in 1994.

In 2008 the brand was bought by Stuart Garner, who refocused on the retro models and restarted production. The company then returned to racing at the TT and developed their own V4 superbike. However, the business struggled financially and was eventually placed in administration in January, leaving a large number of customers out of pocket.

Norton’s hiring: new owners expanding workforce

First published on May 22 by Ben Clarke

Norton motorcycles on the production line

The new owners of Norton are wasting no time in getting up to full strength with job adverts for 15 roles posted on their website. The brand, now owned by Indian company TVS, are on the hunt for people to fill a range of engineering and admin roles including a quality manager, senior design engineer and principal powertrain engineer.

“We have begun the process of planning for the restart of the business and are looking to both fill some existing vacancies and add to the capabilities of the organisation,” Norton’s interim CEO, John Russell, told MCN.

This intake will grow the headcount of the business by over 25% from the 55 members of staff it had when TVS took over, and it doesn’t sound like it will be the last expansion either.

Russell added: “The roles we are recruiting are across the organisation, engineering, operations, sales, marketing and service. Initially we are looking to fill around 15 posts and will be looking to further rounds of hiring as we grow Norton to its full potential.”

Norton buy-out brings hope for deposit holders

First published on April 30 by Jordan Gibbons

Norton assembly line

The news of Norton’s £16m cash buy-out by Indian manufacturing giant TVS has brought a glimmer of hope to buyers who were facing the prospect of losing tens of thousands of pounds.

The new boss of Norton, Sudarshan Venu, told MCN that it was their “intention to get bikes to people who have paid deposits as soon as possible”. Many of Norton’s customers had paid in full for the range-topping V4 superbike, with plenty handing over in excess of £44,000 expecting to receive their bike, sometimes in a matter of days.

Stewart Campbell paid in full for his machine and ended up with just a frame to show for his £44,000 investment. He said: “I am pleased to hear something positive come out of Norton at last. I really had given up hope, to be honest.

“But if I could end up with the motorcycle I paid for, then that would make my day. That’s all I ever wanted. The bike of my dreams. And now it looks like it might just turn out alright.

“I’ve not heard anything yet, but at least there does seem to be a ray of hope and it does seem like the new owners TVS do want to do the right thing.”

John Phillips

Another customer who had been waiting patiently for his V4 was John Phillips. He sold his pride-and-joy Ducati 998 and cashed in an ISA to pay for the Norton V4. He told MCN: “To be honest, if I had a choice, I’d rather have my money back than the bike. If I didn’t have a choice and I ended up with the bike I paid for, then that’s still a lot better than I had expected a few weeks ago.

“I just can’t get my hopes up really. I’ve been told so many things in the past that never came to fruition that I just can’t believe there is actually going to be a happy ending to this.”

Even with these positive noises, it’s unlikely customers will see their bikes for many months with TVS unable to restart production until it is safe to do so. There has also been no news as to how the £16m secured by the administrators will be distributed or whether those who invested their pensions into the business will see any money returned.

MCN Exclusive: Norton’s new owners will fulfil outstanding orders

First published on April 22 by Jordan Gibbons

Norton Commando tank badge

Norton Motorcycles has been sold to Indian motorcycle giant TVS Motor Company in a £16million cash deal that will see manufacturing remain in the UK, while those who paid deposits will finally receive their bikes.

Under the agreement, a subsidiary TVS Motor Company has acquired Norton, as well as a licence to occupy the existing manufacturing premises for the next six months, after which they will build a new factory in the UK. Speaking exclusively to MCN, Sudarshan Venu, Joint Managing Director of TVS told us their first aim is to rebuild the brand.

“The most important thing for us is to build on Norton’s legacy and restore it to its original glory,” said Venu. “We want to delight customers around the world and take Norton into the future.”

Norton tank badge

If you’re not familiar with the TVS Group, they were founded in 1911 and have grown into a multi-billion pound manufacturing company.

As well as manufacturing their own bikes, they also build bikes for other companies (such as BMW’s G310GS and G310R) with 3-4 million bikes per year not uncommon, although despite their size they had never looked at buying Norton prior to them being in administration.

What next for Norton?

Administration aside, the acquisition ought to propel Norton’s growth by leveraging TVS Motor Company’s global reach and supply chain capabilities, as well as tapping into the firm’s huge resources and manufacturing scale.

They intend to continue with the current range including the Commando, Dominator and V4 models as well as bring new bikes to market including the upcoming 650cc parallel twin Atlas models.

“We will stay at the current premises for six months but look to move after that,” added Venu. “We have strong connections to the Midlands, having worked with the Warwick Manufacturing Group since the 1980s. We have a technical centre in Warwick that already has 40 TVS staff and we will look to build on that.”

As part of their takeover TVS confirmed all of the current staff will be employed in the takeover as will the design team although former CEO Stuart Garner will be no part of the new business. To get things going as quickly as possible they have already appointed an interim CEO formerly of Land Rover and Harley-Davidson who has already visited the factory ahead of an imminent return to production.

Five year plan

But TVS do not intend to turn Norton into a high-volume brand. “We will continue to build the current range, which is the core of Norton and focus on large capacity machines,” said Venu.

“Hopefully we will expand globally and perhaps build more plants around the world. We hope to restart building as soon as possible but there are issues to work with considering the company’s recent challenges. As long as parts meet the quality and Norton-ness of what is needed, we will work with those brands to make it a reality.”

“I have always loved the craftsmanship and the unique British design. It has a tremendous charm and an enormous legacy. While TVS now owns Norton, and it’s very much a part of TVS, we want to ensure Norton has its own legacy, its own brand, its own identity and its own management in the UK.

“We want to cater to the people who really value Norton and we will do whatever is needed to ensure that the customers of Norton get the best bikes. Norton is in a safe pair of hands.”

What now for Norton?

First published on April 15 by Richard Newland

The big question now is what happens to Norton going forward? Is there a future for the Norton brand and what about all the people who have lost millions of pounds along the way?

Let’s deal with the Norton brand and business first. When BDO were appointed administrators of Norton it meant their job was not only to find out what went wrong but also to see what could be done to get the most amount of money back for all the creditors.

The ideal outcome in this situation would have been if the business could be recovered and sold as a going concern – ie continue trading as normal with some new arrangements in place. However, BDO quickly determined that given the outstanding debts of the business, this was unlikely – but not impossible. Read on…

The next objective that is currently being pursued is to get something better than if the company was just wound up. At the moment while Norton isn’t trading all of the staff are currently still employed and being paid a salary. This means that should someone come in now wishing to purchase the business, they wouldn’t be starting completely from scratch.

The final option that remains for BDO would be to shut Norton up completely and sell off parts of the business to the highest bidder. This is the last option BDO want to take as it would result in the least amount of return and it would very likely all go to Metro bank.

When it comes to selling the business, BDO say they had 331 expressions of interest of which 242 were from people within the trade and 89 were from investors. Of those 169 progressed it further (152 trade and 17 investors), which ultimately resulted in 29 formal offers for all of the assets being submitted by February 21. BDO examined those offers and eight of those were progressed to phase two where additional info was provided as well as site visits.

It’s worth noting at this point that BDO say Norton’s accounts are incomplete and inaccurate in parts and they’re also still awaiting the Statement of Affairs from the directors. All of the eight interested parties have requested more information on the IP holdings of the company, which required BDO to instruct specialist IP lawyers to get to the bottom of exactly what Norton does and does not own.

They have also had to instruct Hilco to put a value on the IP of Norton and the US arm, Norton LLC. The official book value for both was £6.7 million however reality is likely to be different. The final deadline for best offers was March 25 with a view to concluding a transaction as soon as possible after, although BDO say they cannot comment on any of the offers at this stage for fear of prejudicing the sale.

But could that sale happen? Well, rumours abound that there is a significant bid on the table and that a deal – while not yet done – could be announced imminently. The name most often touted is Indian giant TVS, but no-one who could confirm the possibility is willing to offer either confirmation or denial. Watch this space.

Norton debts revealed – the missing millions

First published on April 15 by Richard Newland

Norton’s administrators have revealed the company owes more than £14 million and 466 customers who paid a deposit for a bike won’t be getting their machine or any cash back.

Norton Motorcycles, Donington Hall and the Priest House Hotel all went into administration on January 29, 2020 and this is the first time the firm running that process, BDO, have officially revealed any results from their investigations.

And while BDO’s Creditors’ Report revealed there had been 331 ‘expressions of interest’ in buying Norton, the report also said: “It is NOT considered that the company will be rescued as a going concern.”

The report reveals that on December 2, 2019, BDO were called in to make a high level review of the short-term cashflow forecasts for Norton and Donington Hall. The review was completed on December 19, 2019 and found that the company would be unable to trade and pay creditors. Neither the company’s shareholders or Metro Bank were in a position to provide the extra funding needed.

The directors, led by Stuart Garner, tried to find funding or a buyer for the business. When that didn’t come to fruition, Metro concluded that there was no choice but to appoint administrators in the best interest of the company’s stakeholders and employees and to seek to recover its debt.

Metro bank is the only listed Secured Creditor, which means it is first in line for any proceeds from the sale of the company or its assets. It is owed £4.04m by Norton Motorcycles and £3.07m by Donington Hall Estates. The next in line are the Preferential Creditors, which are basically the 58 staff working at Norton. They are entitled to a maximum payout of £800 each, which totals £46,400.

Then come the Unsecured Creditors. This list includes HMRC (£695,097) and customer deposits of £3,375,167. The report makes it clear that “this money was not ring-fenced and therefore no funds are available to return to impacted customers from this source”.

BDO said in the report that the stated Unsecured Creditor total owed is £6,232,828, but adds: “The company’s books and records may be incomplete, including potential factual inaccuracies and omissions.

To date the Joint Administrators have received unsecured claims from creditors totalling £7,195,689.” So, added to what Metro bank is owed, the total stands at a hefty £14,352,089. And that’s without considering the pension investors, which reports have claimed is another £14m.

The report also reveals that there were 69 bikes in the company’s ownership; 15 in for servicing, 14 ‘work in progress’, 13 owned by Norton, nine in for warranty work, five show bikes spread around the world, one ‘location unknown’, one pre-production machine and three owned by third parties with claims of ownership received.

The report also states that any bikes at the Norton factory for servicing and/or warranty work have been returned to customers where requested. The ‘work in progress’ status relates to motorcycles that were in the early stages of production. There were not completed motorcycles that were awaiting collection by customers. And anyone who has paid a deposit will be devastated by BDO stating: “Notwithstanding that deposits have been paid to the company prior to the administration by specific customers, the Joint Administrators are advised that title to these motorcycles has not passed and that ownership of the part-built motorcycles therefore remains with the company.”

Despite much speculation previously about a fleet of expensive cars, the report makes it clear that of the 12 vehicles involved, six were subject to purchase agreements and are in the process of being returned. Three are being investigated and three that are owned by the company are being sold as part of the assets sale.

The report also revealed that the Joint Administrators have instructed the Forensic Science team of BDO to assist in their investigations including, but not limited to, the events leading up to the Joint Administrators’ appointment of all companies in the group. Investigations are ongoing.

The report also shows that the company is owed £860k, with two of these debtors amounting to £798k, although recovery remains uncertain. It also estimates the company’s Intellectual Property rights to be worth £5,237,572 and North American subsidiary company Norton America LLC to be worth £1,532,313, although specialists Hilco Streambank are currently working on valuation of the company’s IP properties.

While the report does make Norton’s debts clear, it remains to be seen whether a buyer for some or part of the company will come forward and who will get what when that sale takes place. Another report is expected from BDO in the near future.

MCN approached Stuart Garner about the findings, but he declined to comment on the BDO report.

Garner’s other companies under scrutiny

Donington Hall Estates Ltd and the Priest House Hotel Ltd were also part of the administration process as Stuart Garner was a director of both companies. Donington Hall has a ‘net book value’ of £3.27m, although the Administrators have been made aware by Leicestershire City Council that certain planning restrictions may have been breached on the site.

Hastings House (where the Norton factory is based) has a ‘net book value’ of £1.4m.

Metro bank is owed £3.07m by Donington Hall Estates and Leicester City Council is owed £993k. Both will be paid from proceeds of any sale.

The nearby Priest House Hotel was also put into administration, but has been trading under management of another hotel group since January 29, 2020.

The report says: “The Hotel had latterly struggled to generate sufficient revenue to meet ongoing trading obligations and loan repayments. The Hotel appears to have had a history of cash flow issues. We remain optimistic that a going concern sale will be achieved.”

Chinese firm bought rights to 961 engine platform

First published 01/04/2020 by Andy Calton

Norton sold the rights to the 961 engine platform before the company went into administration, it has been revealed.

Chinese company Jinlang, who make scooters and 125cc machines, say they did the deal with Norton’s owner Stuart Garner at the end of 2019. Metro Bank called in the administrators on January 29 after a search for investors proved unsuccessful.

But Jinlang say the deal for the 961 engine platform, including all of the engine tooling, is not part of the administration process as the deal was already done.

There are photographs of the Jinlang Science and Technology Co LTD company director, Huacong Wu, signing a contract with Garner at the end of December.

A spokesman for Jinlang said: “We will work with our design partner in Italy to develop a new motorcycle using the 961 engine, which we will sell worldwide.”

The Norton Motorcycles financial woes – a timeline

Jinlang also produce engines for Zongshen, another massive Chinese motorcycle brand, and Polaris, who own Indian.

The Chinese firm’s scooter brand Ariic makes over 300,000 machines a year and the company sells over 800,000 engines. Numbers are not yet confirmed for the Norton 961-engined motorcycles, but we could see creatives by the end of this year.

Also, there’s no word on what Jinlang paid for the 961 engine platform’s IP rights, tooling and jigs, but it obviously wasn’t enough to stop the Donington-based bike builder going into administration. BDO are expected to complete their audit of Norton’s assets and issue a statement to the creditors imminently.

Garner is also being investigated by the Pensions Ombudsman after 30 investors complained over the way three different schemes were run and after a hearing in February, which the Norton boss failed to attend, will issue a ruling in May.

Stuart Garner with Huacong Wu

And Garner is now also being investigated by the Pensions Regulator after some MPs voiced concern over the lack of action.

Norton owner Stuart Garner was a trustee of three schemes linked to the Leicestershire-based company. MPs from the Work and Pensions Committee have previously written to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) expressing concerns.

Their letter said: “The arrangement began in 2012. Could the Pensions Regulator have acted before May 2019, some seven years later?”

It also said: “The previous trustee, Mr Garner, of the Dominator 2012, Commando 2012, and Donington MC pension schemes, was also CEO of Norton Motorcycles Holdings Ltd, and was replaced by an independent trustee in May 2019,” the letter said.

The Pensions Ombudsman has already heard evidence at a special hearing in February after 30 complainants, some facing losses of up to £170,000, and will rule in May over whether Garner is personally responsible for any breaches in pensions guidelines.

Calls grow for public inquiry into Norton

Following new details about the Norton collapse and boss Stuart Garner’s failure this week to appear before The Pensions Ombudsman, calls are growing for a public investigation into the whole affair.

Norton Motorcycles went into administration last month leaving hundreds of customers and pension-savers potentially millions of pounds out of pocket, even after a series of high-profile Government-backed loans and grants, plus public endorsements by the likes of Theresa May, George Osbourne and Vince Cable.

This week, The Guardian published a report by administrators BDO that revealed Norton owns a fleet of luxury cars valued at just under £800,000 including six Aston Martins. It also revealed that, in the year up to March 2018, Garner had borrowed £160,000 from the company, a loan that appears to still be outstanding.

Now, the chair of parliament’s public accounts committee is calling for an official investigation into the Government’s funding of the company. Meg Hillier MP (Lab) accused officials of ‘blindly pouring’ millions of pounds into the ailing company and said she intends to write to the Government to ask for an enquiry into why Norton failed.

Following the company’s collapse, it came to light that over 200 innocent people had lost their pensions when, they, claim, they were misled into converting them into Norton shares. One, Carol Wicks, is owed more than £170,000.

MCN has also heard from Norton V4 SS buyers that their bikes had been stripped while back at the Norton factory undergoing warranty work. Those distraught owners had been sent pictures of their bikes by the administrators BDO.

Garner himself failed to appear in front of the Pensions Ombudsman in London on Thursday.

MCN’s last contact with Garner was on January 31 when he said he was “devastated” for everyone associated with the company and claimed that he had “personally lost everything”, blaming the company’s failure on “a growing tax burden and ongoing uncertainties over Brexit affecting many things like tariffs, exports and the availability of funding”.

The Pensions Ombudsman will now deliberate on the case and make a preliminary decision and then a final determination. This could take three months, but he could hold Stuart Garner personally responsible for the issues relating to the pension schemes.

Separately the Pensions Regulator will decide whether there is a criminal case to answer.

Norton Motorcycles faces collapse as the firm enters administration

First published 29/01/2020 by Richard Newland

Norton Motorcycles have been placed in administration as last-minute attempts to save the business appear to have failed to secure the backing needed to continue trading. The firm launched a share scheme in November with a view to raising the cash required to fulfil their order book, but the lure of a single investor saw the offer withdrawn while Norton attempted to construct a deal that could underpin the business’ critical cash-flow problems.

With echoes of the near-collapse of the business in 2012 when cash-flow issues very nearly sank the firm just four years after businessman Stuart Garner bought the rights back from American ownership under Kenny Dreer, it appears that the same problem has finally pushed the business past breaking point as Metro Bank appointed administrators BDO.

Investment in the development of the V4 SS and RR models, first unveiled in 2016, proved to be a hugely expensive undertaking for a brand starting from scratch in terms of superbike chassis, engine and electronics technology. But while the limited edition V4 SS sold out rapidly at the £44,000 asking price, forcing those not fast enough to plump for the lower spec V4 RR at £28,000, the cash-flow needed to set-up – and then buy parts from – the supply chain to build the models at the Donington Hall factory simply wasn’t there.

Despite already struggling to deliver the V4 model, Norton knew they had to invest in the next new model in the range – the more mass-market and affordable 650cc parallel-twin Atlas Nomad and Ranger, first revealed in 2017.

If successful, the Atlas would have given the firm the higher volume, lower cost model needed to deliver a consistent cash-flow for the business. But despite the final prototypes showing huge promise and the first bikes being available for customer test rides over recent weeks, it’s been too little, too late. The new 12,000sqft factory extension intended to house Atlas production isn’t finished and production hasn’t started.

Throughout the twelve-year history of the reborn brand, Norton targeted the Isle of Man TT with their improving series of SG race bikes, using a mix of Norton chassis development with Aprilia V4 power. Starting on the island in 2012, the aspirational racing programme was always intended to be the proving ground for the road-going V4 family and delivered the team a creditable best finish of 5th in the 2018 Senior in the hands of Josh Brookes. While their racing activity delivered the testing and data they needed to build the V4, the cost was also significant – and it’s believed Norton had no plans to race with a factory supported team at the 2020 event, while Peter Hickman and the Smiths Racing team announced last month that they would race a Norton Superlight.

MCN revealed just three weeks ago that Norton were facing a serious challenge from HMRC over £300,000 of unpaid taxes (more on that story below), while the firm asserted that much of this outstanding figure would be significantly reduced through outstanding research and development tax relief owed to the company. The courts had adjourned the case, the next hearing was scheduled for mid-February.

It’s understood that the senior Norton team were still negotiating with their anticipated foreign investor at the beginning of this week, but confirmation came today that Metro Bank had appointed administrators BDO.

Norton CEO, Stuart Garner, was unavailable for comment as the news broke – we’ll bring you more information as we have it.

Who are Norton? A potted history of a famous marque

Founded in 1898 by James Lansdowne Norton, the first Norton Motorcycle appeared in 1902, and a mere five years later famously took Rem Fowler to victory in the twin-cylinder class at the very first Isle of Man TT races. In 1907 Norton started production of their own engines.

Fast forward through two World Wars, and almost 100 TT victories, and the ignominious collapse of the British bike industry, and ownership eventually travelled across the pond for 15 years to Oregon-based Kenny Dreer, whose aspirations for rebirth saw him get close to launching a new Commando. But it wasn’t to be and in late 2008 Garner stepped in and brought Norton back to Britain.

Learning from the lessons of Dreer’s attempted brand reinvention, work started on re-engineering the Commando 961 prototype immediately. “This isn’t some kind of romanticised return for Norton,” Garner told MCN back in 2008. “I am serious about this. I want it to be a proper bike firm producing niche motorcycles.”

The Commando that emerged a year later and was delivered into the hands of expectant customers in 2010, was not without its problems. Garner’s commitment to setting up a largely UK supply chain also nearly sank the firm’s nascent return.

But with dogged determination, the problems were gradually ironed out, and the original Commando 961 was replaced by the far more resolved MkII in 2015, two years after the firm’s relocation to Donington Hall and Hastings House. Numerous limited-edition models followed using the 961 platform, rejuvenating old names with the Dominator and Domiracer, while special versions of the Commando (California, Street, Breitling) also followed.

The firm revealed the V4 SS and RR in 2016, with first bikes being delivered to owners in 2019. The 650cc parallel-twin Atlas Nomad and Ranger were revealed in 2018, with the model now almost production ready at the point of the business being placed in administration.

The global reach extends as far as Australia, Hong Kong, Jordan and the USA with Norton exporting around 80% of their new bikes, and production was claimed to be creeping towards 1000 units per annum.

Get more on the Norton Motorcycles financial issues back story below, as MCN covered events from breaking ground at their new factory, right up to today’s news…

Norton Motorcycles in court over £300,000 in unpaid taxes

First published 9 January 2020 by Andy Calton

Representatives from Norton Motorcycles appeared at the Insolvency and Companies Court in London yesterday to contest a winding up petition regarding £300,000 of unpaid taxes.

Norton’s owner, Stuart Garner, says he is working with HM Revenue and Customs to resolve the matter, claiming the money owed is largely covered by outstanding research and development tax relief currently owed to the company.

Leicestershire Live have reported that the court heard how the Donington-based manufacturer originally owed around £600,000 – however, half of that figure has now been paid.

HMRC’s barrister told Judge Sebastian Prentis that because the company is making payments and the debt figure had reduced, they were seeking an adjournment, requesting 63 days for the outstanding amount to be settled.

Judge Prentis adjourned the hearing until February 12.

In late November 2019, Norton secured backing from an anonymous investor, having previously looked to raise £1m by setting aside 4-5% of the company’s worth for small investor stakes starting from as little as £50.

Speaking after the hearing yesterday, Garner told Leicestershire Live: “They have extended the time we have to pay and agreed the payment we have put to them.

“This was the formality of what we have agreed over the past few months and wraps around research and development tax credits which have been delayed.

“We have paid an element of the cash and the figure left is, in essence, the R&D balance.

“It has been frustrating that the tax credits have taken so long to come through. We have spent about £13 million in R&D in the last three-four years so it is frustrating that this has taken so long.”

Funding secured! Norton gets cash injection from single investor

First published 21 November 2019

Norton motorcycles on the production line

Norton have confirmed to MCN that they have secured the backing of a single investor and are no longer looking to sell smaller stakes of the company to raise capital. Full details and the identity of the investor will be revealed in the New Year.

The British manufacturer had previously sought to raise £1m by setting aside 4-5% of the company’s worth for small investor stakes starting from as little as £50. No money will be taken from the almost 5000 people who had registered their interest in becoming a stakeholder – and the registration page has now been removed.

Norton have been working at capacity to fulfil its orders on models like its flagship V4 SS and V4 RR superbikes, while simultaneously launching the more affordable Atlas Ranger and Nomad 650 scramblers.

And we’ve also seen limited-edition models like the carbon-framed, supercharged Superlight SS and Dominator Street announced.

Norton Head of Design, Simon Skinner said: “We are focusing hard on producing the V4s and the Atlas right now and are just starting to build the Superlights with delivery starting in the New Year. Superlight SS delivery is expected to start in the middle of next year.”

Fighting the funding hole at Norton

First published 20 November 2019

Norton investment campaign

While Norton are still battling to fulfil orders of current models, owner Stuart Garner is adamant that things are on track, and he has now appealed to the biking community to invest in Norton.

Garner said: “We are giving the people who understand Norton and motorcycles an opportunity to get involved. People can spend as little as £50 for a small stake in Norton.

“Having spoken to the big bankers, they just don’t get it. We are turning to our own people. We will set aside 4-5% of the business to help us raise around £1m of capital.

“We already have £1.5m from the Midlands Engine Fund and with community investment, we can move forwards. We have a full order book and the response has been brilliant so far. We’ve been here 10 years and we’re still growing and building amazing bikes.”

Norton looks for investment

First published 30 August 2019

Norton Atlas Nomad and Ranger

Norton are seeking £5m of investment to help fund the building of the new factory at their Donington Park site and to speed up production of its new Atlas range; the 650 Nomad and Ranger twins.

Garner added: “We are talking to banks, financial institutions and individuals in a bid to find one investor to take up this opportunity. It could mean that the investor owns some equity in the company or it could be a loan of some sort.

“If the deal does become an equity arrangement, it will be a minority holding as I am keen to retain control so that I can continue to drive Norton forwards. We are in talks with several interested parties already and hope to make an announcement soon. We have a full order book for the new Atlas, plans for more new models and the future is very bright.”

Garner expects the new factory to be finished by the end of September with full production of the Atlas range moving into the new facility. Early Atlas models are being assembled on the current production line with deliveries planned to begin in October.

Norton are also still in full swing fulfilling orders of the V4 superbike. Garner explained: “Nearly all of the Norton V4SS (£44,000) orders have been completed and we are about to really ramp up production of the RR (£28,000). We are a little behind as this is a complicated machine to build, but we have now got our supply chain sorted and expect to turn things around pretty quickly now.”

Norton Breaks ground on factory extension

First published 10 April 2019 by Richard Newland

Norton factory

Norton Motorcycles are building a huge addition to their existing factory in order to gear-up for production of their new range of affordable Atlas 650cc models.

The 12,000 square-foot extension to the firm’s existing base at Donington Hall will enable the Derbyshire bike builders to massively increase their production capabilities, moving much of the assembly line from their existing buildings into the bespoke production facility.

While V4 SS production is now moving at pace, the core of the new facility will be used to build the all-new Atlas Nomad (£9995) and Atlas Ranger (£11,995), which share a new 650cc parallel-twin engine, chassis and electronics package, but differ in styling. The pair are aimed at road riders who want to be able to duck down the odd greenlane at the weekend, with the taller Ranger being the more off-road focused of the duo.

“The manufacturing of parts, welding, CNC machining and paint-shop will remain in the Technical Academy building,” Norton CEO Stuart Garner told MCN, “while assembly and stores will move into the new factory. There’ll also be a bench dyno and engine test cell which allows us to take an engine from design all the way through development and into a customer’s bike all in-house.

“The new factory allows us to increase our production capacity to 5000 units per year (4000 more than current – Ed) – and if we need more, we can join the two wings together. We’re planning to double production over the next couple of years and then again so that by 2023 we could be at that 5000-bike production figure.”

Atlas prototypes are now undergoing full testing, while the race department are putting their efforts into getting the V4-derived Superlight 650 ready for the Lightweight TT. The Superlight will also be sold for road and race use, while Atlas 650 deliveries are expected to start this Summer.