Special Report

April 23, 2009

HERO enters the new decade

An Exclusive Interview with Ahson S. Sheikh, Director Marketing, Fateh Motors Limited.

Mr. Ahson S. Sheikh, Director Marketing, Fateh Motors Limited in his exclusive interview with MOBILE WORLD informed that in year 1997 M/s Fateh Group diversified its activities and established a Motorcycle Manufacturing Plant under the name of Fateh Motors Limited, which is now entering into the second decade of glorious performance. Earlier, the Group had started with Fateh Textile Mills Limited in 1952 at Hyderabad and since then it is producing top quality Textile products, which are exported worldwide.

He said the idea behind FML was to provide affordable means of transportation to people from all walks of life. Motorcycle industry in Pakistan is flourishing very rapidly. Hero Motorcycle is compatible in quality and workmanship with any Japanese brand and has already become second highest selling Motorcycle in Pakistan.

Its plant has total capacity of producing 250,000 units per annum. It is fully equipped with all facilities like punching, welding, painting, matching, die-casting, final assembly lines and inspection equipment. In addition to technical assistance, its foreign partners have also provided complete set of dies, modern jigs and fixtures etc. HERO is backed by manufacturers’ warranty and elaborated after-sale service arrangements with full range of spare parts. Its Display Centers are already opened in all major cities of Pakistan.

Replying to various queries Ahson Sheikh disclosed that Fateh Motor believes in good quality and does not compromise on this aspect. This has enhanced Brand loyalty among our consumers. Being one of the pioneers we have given many professionals to motorcycle industry in Pakistan who are serving with various other assemblers nowadays. We have a good team of workers, officials and marketing experts in the Company.

Talking about mushrooming of motorcycle assemblers in the country he said there is no doubt that it has affected the industry; and the reason is absence of any regulating authority. Certainly the EDB and PSQCA were doing their best but non-professional entrants in any field could spoil its decency. There is a concern over compromising the quality by such assemblers. To run an industry is quite different in comparison to have a showroom of any business. Similarly, Assembling of a vehicle is entirely different from manufacturing the same. There are very few people who are running medium to large manufacturing industrial units in the motorcycle field. Therefore, to establish and run an industry in Pakistan is great sacrifice by any dedicated person. There are lots of hurdles in the way of establishing an industry in the country.

There is great difference between an industrialist and a businessman. When government allows import of CBUs of any product which is already being built within the country; it is called massacre of the local manufacturers. This is tantamount to discourage local industry of any product not only the motorcycle industry, he added.

To another question Ahson said, in the broader aspect FML has facilitated the general consumer who one decade back; was not able to have any choice. People were having only one motorcycle but later we and some other manufacturers entered the market with a view to provide the service to general people by offering new alternative choices.

We offered a good choice with fewer prices when monopolized brands were going sky rocketing in the local market. We are among those pioneers who accepted the challenge and since then there is enormous growth in this industry. This trend has benefited not only general buyer but also investors and the vendors. However, few things become uncontrollable. Some assemblers started compromising on quality.

To get rid of two stroke engine; was a problem but gradually we got success and improved our environment. “Engine Jandar – Gari Shandar” is our slogan and we believe it. We give best quality to our consumer and by the Grace of God almighty we never compromised on quality. When we claim a fuel efficient product we really mean it, and mileage is the biggest plus point in our motorcycle. When we say it goes beyond 70-km in one liter this is proven truth. We have track record of consumers especially in Punjab province even in Lahore who were maintaining mileage register since last five year and express their satisfaction, which verifies our stance.

This is our strongest point and we have developed vendors’ network within the country. We strictly followed deletion program and new comers have really got benefit from this effort. When we entered motorbike industry there was a single competitor and till today we still consider him the only competitor. Hence, we developed our infrastructure and spent lot of resources to develop various small to big parts vendors within the country. It takes time and resources both.

But on the other hand it proved to be beneficial for general public in Pakistan. The prices had gone down more than 50 percent compared to the previous competitor. His monopoly was challenged and defeated. If we go through devaluation of rupee compared to past decades then this ratio is very much wide. But this has also affected quality standard of the products.

We are developing various new products to become market leader and in near future you will see such changes in the motorbike industry. At the end of this month we are launching our new model. We have also planned to manufacture 110cc bike very soon.

We have dealers network all across the country from small villages and Chuks to big cities. You will find our dealers even in Swat and Mengora. We are trend-setters who have shown the way to dealers, vendors and technicians. Motorcycle industry had crossed the milestone of one million productions during last fiscal year and I foresee 50% more increase during current year.

Export potential for motorcycle industry is very much. We have received inquiries from Bangladesh and African countries but we cannot compete with Chinese exports until our government gives undisturbed supplies and special concessions in the tariff of utilities. With costly steel, energy and other utilities we are unable to develop export market for motorcycle industry.

Fateh Motors introduced full range of motor-bike varieties by manufacturing 70cc, 100cc and 125cc motorcycles. All the three segments have their own market popularity among users. This is not Chinese technology, we believe in Japanese technology which with the passage of time and due to shifting of Japan towards hi-tech inventions has been transferred to China. Chinese companies are making all grades of components ranging from A, B, C to D categories. But a certain class of assemblers which has compromised on quality belongs to those who were importing low grade components from China. However, we are always getting ‘A plus’ quality and passing it to consumer.

Further highlighting about consumer services Director Marketing stated: “We are also running Fateh Consumers Services which is supplying motorcycle to low income group of consumers on very low mark-up rate and easy installments since last five years.”

Talking about future of the industry he claimed that Motorcycle industry in Pakistan has become a lifeline for economy of the country. After recent fuel crisis it has become more important and imminent. About two decades back purchasing power of the people was not very strong while now scenario is different. The third and most vital aspect is that motorcycle has become a necessity for the people seeking employment. Our youth who has no motorcycle facility is unable to get any job or employment. For example; have a look at any ad in the newspapers you will find its basic requirement is that the candidate or applicant must have his own conveyance facility. If he has no facility he should go and buy his own motorcycle which is the cheapest means of transportation in prevailing circumstances.

Therefore, in my opinion demand for the motorcycle would always grow in our country especially with the present world crisis, this is the only replacement of cars. This is cost effective, fuel efficient and people have no other alternative for their day to day affairs.

We had launched our first 125cc motorcycle with 5-speed gear and self-start with built-in specification in year 2004 but till today there is no competitor. This was our innovation and now the industrial trend is going towards plastic parts as you can see in India. They have beautified the bike by giving a sport look and obviously it has reduced the weight. But in our country this trend is quite difficult to adopt because our buyer still insist on heavy weight assuming if bike weight is 90-kg plus it is good otherwise not.

We need to educate people; they should think if motorcycle weight is reduced its fuel consumption will also improve. On our side R&D is a continuous process but we too have to see what is demanded by customer. Fuel economy is the main issue for today, hence industry should think over this problem. I hope within next few years there would be a positive change in this regard.

-Published on page # 8 & 9 in April-2009 issue of MOBILE WORLD Magazine

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