Norton Motorcycles placed into administration
One of the world’s most historic motorcycle brands is in jeopardy after Leicestershire-based Norton Motorcycles was placed into administration last night.
Norton made its first motorcycle in 1902 and was one of the leading manufacturers in the world during the British industry’s golden era of the 1950s and 1960s. After going to the wall in the 1970s, the brand went through a tumultuous period until businessman Stuart Garner relaunched Norton in 2008. The flamboyant entrepreneur brought back the famous Commando model and developed a 1200cc V4 superbike, based upon the company’s Isle of Man TT racers. A range of 650cc models was also announced and shown at Motorcycle Live, although these never made it into mass production.
Indeed, ever since the brand returned, social media has been awash with complaints from customers who placed deposits on bikes, only for build times to be massively delayed and delivery taking years. Last year the company was faced with being struck off after being late filing its accounts. The company also attracted the attention of the Pensions Ombudsman, which has ordered a public hearing next month, while HMRC issued a winding up order over an unpaid tax bill, reported to be in the region of £300,000. In November, the company announced plans to sell shares, in order to raise £1m to help accelerate fulfilment of orders, but this was soon canned after a single investor was claimed to have come forward.
Last night it was announced that Metro Bank had appointed accountancy firm BDO as administrators of Norton Motorcycles, as well as the nearby Priest House Hotel, which is also run by Garner. The administrators are currently assessing the situation but have said that they will ‘execute the most appropriate strategy as swiftly as possible to protect creditors’ interests, bearing in mind the need to minimise distress for all parties.’
Norton is said to employ around 100 members of staff and among the creditors are enthusiasts who have placed a deposit on a motorcycle.
For now, the future of Norton remains unclear. The evocative brand name will no doubt be coveted by prospective investors, but what happens to the current Castle Donington-based firm will no doubt become clearer in the coming days, weeks and months.