Harley-Davidson has announced the launch of its first wholly-owned subsidiary in Switzerland. The 100-year-old motorcycle manufacturer is now taking direct responsibility for the distribution, marketing and day-to-day management of the Harley-Davidson and Buell brands in Switzerland.

The brand was previously distributed for 25 years by Motorfahrzeug-Handels AG (Mohag) which will continue to operate some prominent dealerships.

A Harley-Davidson spokesman said “Sales of all products continue to grow in Europe, and during the first quarter of this year we recorded a 15.3% increase in motorcycle sales, so it is the right time for us to be increasing our investment and resources in the leading marketplaces. Switzerland certainly fits that profile because it has some of the most loyal and passionate Harley-Davidson enthusiasts in Europe.”

Harley-Davidson Switzerland’s first managing director, Gerard Staedelin, will oversee the recruitment of additional members of staff and the transfer of operations from Mohag. The new head office will be in the Zurich area.

Staedelin, previously responsible for directing the motorcycle maker’s marketing strategies in 22 distributor countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is an enthusiastic Harley and Buell rider and has travelled extensively in Switzerland.

The new Swiss operation becomes Harley-Davidson’s sixth wholly-owned subsidiary in Europe. The brand is also directly represented in the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Germany, as well as in the Benelux countries of Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Staedelin and his staff will also work closely with Harley-Davidson personnel at the company’s European headquarters in Oxford, UK.