Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (February 29, 2020) BSB — Harley-Davidson, Inc. has announced that Matthew Levatich has stepped down as President and CEO and as a member of the Board of Directors.
The Board of Directors has appointed Jochen Zeitz as acting President and CEO, a current board member who has also been named Chairman of the Board. Current Chairman of the Board, Michael Cave, is now Presiding Director.
The company plans to use an external search firm to undertake a search for a new CEO, and a further announcement will be made at a later date.
"The Board and Matt mutually agreed that now is the time for new leadership at Harley-Davidson," said Zeitz in a statement. "Matt was instrumental in defining the More Roads to Harley-Davidson accelerated plan for growth, and we will look to new leadership to recharge our business. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Matt for his 26 years of service to Harley-Davidson. He has worked tirelessly to navigate the Company through a period of significant industry change while ensuring the preservation of one of the most iconic brands in the world."
Harley has been struggling with declining sales in the U.S., its biggest market, as it tries to adapt to an aging customer base while looking to expand markets overseas.
The announcement of the leadership change, made after the markets closed, pushed Harley’s shares up 5% in after-hours trading. They had fallen 2.3% with the broader markets during the trading day.
Harley’s closing share price Friday was down 18% for the year.
Harley reported a net profit of $423.6 million in 2019, but it made only $13.5 million in the fourth quarter.
Levatich will assist with the transition through the end of March. Harley-Davidson, Inc. was founded in 1903.