Thursday, February 4, 2010

'Hogettes' make mark to boost Harley-Davidson sales
Article from: The Courier-Mail

Mark Solomons

January 29, 2010 12:00am

FEMALE riders are boosting the flagging fortunes of Harley-Davidson in Queensland as increasing numbers of women buy the luxury machines in a quest for independence and self-expression.

Harley-Davidson dealers say the number of sales and inquiries from women is up and owners' groups report rising female membership.

"We sell one in three of our bikes to females," said Geoff Trewin, owner of Rocky Harley-Davidson in Rockhampton.

"A lot of husbands are buying them for their wives. And divorced females is a big market for Harley."

Customers would spend an average of $27,000 on a bike, another $3000 or $4000 on accessories and $2000 on clothing, he said.

Last year was a dismal one for Harley globally, with sales 40 per cent lower in the December quarter giving the company its first quarterly loss since 1993. In Australia, sales in Queensland fell by an estimated 20 or 30 per cent last year, making it the worst-performing state.

But dealers report that sales have improved in January and an established trend of rising female interest has continued. "Sales to women are fabulous," said Phil Beaumont, sales manager at Morgan & Wacker in Brisbane.

Cathy Barry, 44, a Rockhampton nurse, spent $38,000 on a Harley in 2007 following an initial contact with the local Harley Owners Group through its charity work.

"I had breast cancer in 2003 and the Harley chapter took me on a ride and they were so warm and welcoming and I loved being on the bike so much," she said. "I decided that once the chemotherapy was over I would get my own bike."

Ms Barry is now the head of Ladies of Harley in Rockhampton, the female branch of the Harley Owners Group. She says women – mostly in their 30s and older and including a number of divorcees – account for about a quarter of the local HOG membership of 110.

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