With a heavy heart I post this week’s cover story; Norton Motorcycles maybe at an end. Many other websites are going with the fear angle, I am not and waited to get the full story. Turns out what Norton owes isn’t insurmountable… £165,000 and they have £4.1 million in assets plus Norton also has a lot of R&D into their new 2020 line up Norton V4RR, Norton Superlight, Norton Superlight SS, Norton Atlas Nomad and Norton Atlas Ranger all new models. With Norton entering insolvency the British Icon loved uniqueness may not be gone, just temporarily delayed.
Norton is (and will always be) a historic brand name in the industry and if the rose-colored glasses approach turns out in the end to be not-so-rosy, well, it will be a sad day indeed for not only Norton and its 100+ employees but also motorcyclists in general as competition, innovation and choice is good for riders. We wish Norton a speedy recovery and hope it gets back on its feet soon.
Total Motorcycle has been covering Norton as official accredited media since their resurgence in 2008. Check out our 2009 to 2020 Norton Motorcycle Model Guides right here on TMW.
Leicestershire-based Norton Motorcycles goes into administration
(Quoted from LeicestershireLive (where Norton is located) as I (TMW) found that to be the most accurate and inclusive report).
Administrators called in weeks after management were in court over hundreds of thousands of pounds of unpaid taxes
Accountancy firm BDO said it had been appointed to manage the affairs of the bike manufacturer, based at Donington Hall, Castle Donington.
Administrators have also been called into the Priest House Hotel, also based in Castle Donington, which is linked to the motorcycle business.
Staff at the hotel were understood to have been told about the decision earlier today. A business called Legacy Hotels and Resorts has been brought in to run the hotel until a buyer is found.
Lee Causer, BDO business restructuring partner, told LeicestershireLive: “As joint administrators, we are taking all necessary steps to ensure that customers, staff and suppliers are supported through the administration process.
“Our job is to determine and execute the most appropriate strategy as swiftly as possible to protect creditors’ interests, bearing in mind the need to minimise distress for all parties.
“We are currently assessing the position of each of the companies in order to conclude upon the options available to them and the most appropriate way forward.”
LeicestershireLive has asked Stuart Garner, owner of Norton and Priest House, for comment.
Mr Garner rescued the historic bike brand in 2008, moving it to Leicestershire from its traditional home in the West Midlands.
Today it employs around 100 people making bikes such as the Commando 961 Cafe Racer, Dominator and V4RR, which are now sold around the world.
Earlier this month, Mr Garner said he had been working with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to avoid a winding up petition over hundreds of thousands of pounds of unpaid taxes.
He said his company owed HMRC £300,000 – mainly covered, he said, by outstanding research and development (R&D) tax relief which was owed to the business.
Representatives of Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd were at the High Court’s Insolvency and Companies Court in London three weeks ago facing the winding up order over the outstanding debts.
The court heard how HMRC was originally owed around £600,000, half of which had been paid.
HMRC’s barrister told insolvency judge Judge Sebastian Prentis that because the debt had been reduced and the company was making payments, they were seeking an adjournment.
He asked for 63 days for the outstanding amount to be settled.
Norton’s financial director told the judge the company had £135,000 in research and development tax credits due, which were with HMRC for approval.
Speaking after the hearing, Mr Garner told LeicestershireLive: “They have extended the time we have to pay and agreed the payment we have put to them.
“This was the formality of what we have agreed over the past few months and wraps around research and development tax credits which have been delayed.
“We have paid an element of the cash and the figure left is, in essence, the R&D balance.
Norton chief executive Stuart Garner said the Chinese engines will be different to the UK ones
“It has been frustrating that the tax credits have taken so long to come through. We have spent about £13 million in R&D in the last three/four years, so it is frustrating that this has taken so long.
“There have been five new models in the past year as a result of our R&D spend.”
Last year, Mr Garner launched a £1 million crowd-fund campaign to finance a £30 million order book and spend on further R&D.
He later pulled the appeal, saying a big investor had come forward.
The company was founded in Birmingham in 1898 by James Lansdowne Norton, starting out as a manufacturer of “fittings and parts for the two-wheel trade”.
By 1902 Norton had started manufacturing motorcycles.