Honda is one of the largest automobile brands in Nepal and its presence in the country has spanned a period of 50 years. It all started when the leading industrial and trading conglomerate Jyoti Group started selling motorbikes of the Japanese automobile brand in the Nepali market in 1967. The group in 1976 established the Syakar Trading Company (STC) Limited as its subsidiary which further accelerated its Honda business. STC is the sole authorised distributor of Honda two-wheelers, four-wheelers and power products in Nepal. The group imported 11 units of Honda vehicles in the beginning and the number over the years grew exponentially and now, five decades later, reaching over 600,000 units every year. Suhrid Jyoti is the managing director of Jyoti Group and vice-chairman of STC. In an interview with New Business Age, he talked about Honda’s accomplishments, market position and plans to expand its dealer and service network, among other topics. Excerpts:
What are the major accomplishments of Honda in its 50 years in Nepal?
Any business that lasts 50 years is an accomplishment in itself. In our group, the business of Honda is the third venture to turn 50. However, rather than resting on our past accomplishments, our focus is on the future and we have plans to get a 70 percent market share within the next few years. We are also working to ensure that we provide the best customer experience of any brand in any industry in Nepal.
How have the five decades been for Syakar Trading Company in terms of its partnership with Honda? How do you think the partnership will flourish in the coming years?
Three generations of our family have worked with Honda. We have been through all kinds of adversities and successes together over the years. Through thick and thin, Honda has always supported us for the long term development in Nepal. After these decades, we have become the face of Honda in Nepal. With the new advances in technology and Honda's strong R&D programme, we are looking forward to a bright future in terms of our partnership.
How has Honda helped its customers in Nepal to fulfill their mobility needs?
Honda is always ahead to give wings to our customers. The biggest social change we have observed is the way that our scooters have empowered young women in Nepal ultimately making them independent and strong. Our off-road segment motorbikes are also much loved in Nepal as the two-wheelers are perfect bikes for cross country travel in this country. The extremely reliable engines of Honda two-wheelers power the working class in our country. Honda motorbikes and scooters are regarded asthe most efficient, long lasting with best resale value in the market.
We have also many aspirational motorbikes from Honda like CBR600RR, Fireblade CBR1000RR, CB650, among others. These are exciting superbikes that incorporate cutting-edge technology. I think it is a blessing for Nepali bike lovers that we have so many of the big bikes available for display and sale.
How many Honda vehicles have been sold till date in the Nepali market?
We have sold over 650,000 two wheelers. What is more remarkable in this regard is that the units bought many years earlier are still in operation. It is really amazing to see many Honda bikes still on the road even after decades of use. This is where I think Honda truly shines.
What is the market share of Honda in the two-wheeler segment?
We have been the leader in the two-wheeler market for the last 3-4 years. Our biggest strength is in the scooter segment where we command over 70 percent share of the market. We are also very strong in the 125 cc segment. Similarly, our focus is also is on many new products in the 150/160 cc segment. Last year, the overall two-wheeler market in Nepal witnessed a slowdown and the sales even fell around 5 percent. But Honda maintained its sales volume and increased the market share.
Tough competition is being observed in the Nepali market as many Japanese and other international automobile brands are present here. What is it like for Honda?
Much of our focus is on internal improvements and concentrating on efforts to ensure our customers get the right products and that they are satisfied with our service. The market competition does exist, but more as a measuring yard of our success.
What are the unique selling propositions (USPs) of Honda?
We have the best products at reasonable price ranges; speed and style complemented with safety and ergonomics, we have the complete package. Honda is known the world over for its reliability, efficiency and exciting new products. Besides, we are committed to quality service and customer satisfaction.
How is the countrywide coverage of Honda in Nepal? What is the situation of after sales services and availability of genuine spare parts and accessories?
We have over 100 3s, 2s and 1s dealers across the country. We just invested in establishing a big spare parts distribution centre. This will effectively help to double our sales this year. We are in the process of constructing the best service centre in the country and have recently acquired land for the purpose. We have sales and service training centres for all our sales executives. We have even invested in call centres to better serve the customers. All our efforts are on ensuring top-class after sales service, availability of quality spare parts and a good customer experience.
Do you have any plans to expand the network of sales and customer service?
We are very transparent in our dealer selection process. We advertise in the newspapers and select the best candidates in every area. Currently, our focus is on dealer development and training making the business of our current dealers more profitable and sustainable.
Are there any new Honda four-wheelers and two-wheelers for Nepal?
We will be launching many new products that will be known to all our customers very soon. We are very excited for the future and I would like to thank the customers for their continuous love and affection they have shown towards Honda.