Twitter has been abuzz with strong disapproval of bike-maker Royal Enfield’s business relations with a Pakistan-based riding apparel maker which is a supplier for the automaker's biker jackets and gloves.
Comments have ranged from benign condemnation to outright nastiness with one tweeple even going as far as to use a four-letter word, calling the tie-up a 'heartbreak'.
For over four years now, Eicher Motors-owned Royal Enfield, which is the oldest motorcycle brand from India in continuous production, has been importing and selling riding gear from a manufacturer based in Sialkot Pakistan.
Pakistan-based Pilot Sewing Corporation makes fashion jackets, racer gloves, bike pants and leather vests among several other products for many bike-making companies, one of which is Delhi-based Royal Enfield.
While Eicher has been importing leather jackets and leather gloves from this Pakistani company since the past few years it seems buyers became aware of it only recently.
Many people posted pictures of the manufacturing tags and labels of these imported products on the micro-blogging site Twitter expressing their displeasure.
Twitter user Mrityunjay Singh had this to say in his tweet:
Another twitter user Vikrant Kumar who attached a picture said, “Dear @royalenfield, I am shocked to know that you are sourcing your gears from Pakistan. Of all countries why Pakistan?”.
Royal Enfield started opening its biking apparel range in 2013 after the launch of the Continental GT bike. The company opened several stand-alone stores that primarily focused on selling apparels not bikes. These apparels are also presently sold on Flipkart, too.
Eicher Motors did not respond to a mail seeking comments on their association with the Pakistan-based company. A mail sent to Pilot Sewing remained unanswered, too.
Riding gears, especially genuine leather jackets and leather gloves which are sold for Rs 8,500 and Rs 2,500 respectively in India, are cheaper to make in Pakistan than in India, which is primarily the reason why bike makers elsewhere prefer to buy from there.
Sialkot, which also allegedly houses terror camps of banned terrorist outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba, is located in the north-east of Punjab, the second largest province in Pakistan.
The uproar comes at a time when Royal Enfield’s competitor Bajaj Auto has taken pride in associating itself with war veterans who had served on Indian Navy’s iconic carrier INS Vikrant. The association started with the launch of the ‘V’ series of bikes which uses the metal cannibalised from INS Vikrant -- the hero of the 1971 war with Pakistan.
Royal Enfield sells five main motorcycles brands in India, which have 13 variants priced between Rs 1-2 lakh. The company clocked sales of 666,490 units last financial year to grow by 31 percent as against 508,154 units sold in 2015-16.
In March, the growth had slowed to 17 percent at 60,113 units as compared to 51,320 units sold in the same month last year. During the same month sales of models having engines bigger than 350cc slumped 71 percent to 1,667 units. New models Himalayan and Continental GT are a part of this pack.