THE PIAGGIO GROUP'S net revenue for the first quarter, ended March 31, totaled €306.3 million ($405.57 million), down 15.8 percent compared to revenue of €363.9 million during the same three-month period in 2008. The company experienced a net loss of €4.7 million ($6.22 million), down from a net profit of €3.2 million during last year's first quarter.
Piaggio officials say the first quarter of 2009 was "severely" affected by the economic crisis.
The Italian OEM's first quarter unit sales totaled 120,100 vehicles worldwide, down 20.3 percent compared to 150,600 vehicles sold during the first three months of 2008. First quarter two-wheeler sales in the United States fell 29.1 percent compared to the same three months last year.
The Piaggio Group in North America includes Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio and Vespa. In other parts of the world the company also markets product under the Ape, Derbi, Gilera and Piaggio Commercial Vehicles brand names.
For the remainder of the year, Piaggio plans to focus on the growth of its motorcycle brands in Europe, its scooter business in the U.S. and Europe, and the launch of Vespa brand sales in Vietnam.
Piaggio Chairman and CEO Roberto Colaninno last year said the company plans to use its 70-person strong team in the U.S. to consolidate a multi-brand position in the scooter market and grow in the motorcycle market, "despite a fierce competitive scenario."
Colaninno said the Piaggio Group's five-prong plan for the U.S. includes:
1) the introduction of selected new products for Vespa and Moto Guzzi, leveraging on their brand name awareness;
2) carrying out a re-launch of the motorcycle brands;
3) further developing the dealer networks, integrating the Aprilia and Moto Guzzi networks, optimizing coverage of major target markets and improving service and support provided to dealers;
4) increasing initiatives designed to provide customers with maximum exposure to, and involvement with, the brands and products;
5) increasing the exposure of brands in magazines, on the Internet and on television.
The Piaggio Group had net sales of €1.570 billion ($2.006 billion) in its year ended Dec. 31, 2008, down 7.2 percent from net sales of €1.692 billion in 2007. The company sold 648,600 vehicles in 2008, down 8.5 percent compared to 708,500 vehicles sold in 2007.
—Submitted by Guido Ebert