Harley-Davidson job cuts hit general merchandise business in Milwaukee

Includes 40 jobs in Milwaukee, according to report

Harley-Davidson headquarters
Harley-Davidson Inc.'s headquarters in Milwaukee.

Last updated on September 12th, 2019 at 09:02 pm

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. is cutting jobs in its general merchandise organization as part of a restructuring.

The company declined to say how many positions it is cutting. Reuters reported the cuts included 40 positions in Milwaukee, citing a company official with knowledge of the matter.

Asked about the layoffs, a company spokesperson provided the following statement: “Harley-Davidson announced that it will restructure its General Merchandise organization to capitalize on growth opportunities. This supports the company’s commitment to manage our business with focus and discipline as we invest in growing the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders globally.”

WISN-TV Channel 12, a BizTimes media partner, reported that employees impacted by the restructuring gathered at a Wauwatosa bar on Wednesday but none were willing to speak on camera.

The general merchandise organization, which includes clothing, apparel and riding gear, accounted for $242 million in revenue last year, about 4.9% of overall motorcycle segment sales and down from $284.6 million and 5.4% of sales in 2016.

This year, general merchandise revenue is down 4.2% in the first six months of the year, putting it on pace for around $232 million in sales.

The motorcycle maker has seen slowing sales in recent years as it confronts the aging of its core riders, low used motorcycle prices and global trade challenges.

Harley previously implemented a workforce reorganization plan in November 2018 that led to 70 employees leaving the company on an involuntary basis.

The company expected $3.9 million in expenses related to the reorganization program, according to securities filings. Through the first half of 2019, Harley had accounted for all but $144,000 of those expenses.

The restructuring program was expected to generate $7 million savings annually.

Harley also implemented a manufacturing optimization plan that included the closure of its Kansas City assembly plant. That program is expected to generate at least $70 million in savings in 2019 and 2010 and then around $70 million annually going forward.

Reuters reported the most recent layoffs did not impact any manufacturing workers.

Get our email updates

Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.