Norton, one of the most famous British motorcycle marques, this week claimed it will be restarting production by April. But it looks set to leave its base at Shenstone, near Lichfield in Staffordshire.
Stephen Cieslukowski, the chief financial officer at Norton Motors International’s HQ in Minneapolis, said the firm would ramp up production to 2,500 bikes a year at a new UK plant within the next 18 months.
‘The consensus is that we won’t use Shenstone,’ he said. Other sites are under review in Birmingham and Rochdale, close to where the new bikes were developed. About 200 jobs will be created.
Cieslukowski said most of the development costs had been taken on by about 30 UK parts suppliers. Norton has put $9m (£6m) into the project. Costs are fairly low as the bikes will be small-volume, high-value units. ‘We only need 2-3,000 bikes per year to break even,’ he said.
Al Melling, the Rochdale-based engine designer who was linked with a failed bid to buy Rolls-Royce Motors, has designed the bikes, including a 225mph Nemesis superbike with active suspension the first of its kind.
Norton aims to raise $18m from a share offer on the NASDAQ Small Cap next month, a move postponed from September.