History [ edit ]
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Until the end of War World II Malaguti had to stop production while Italy was invaded and later on when its owners were hiding in the mountains from the retreating German army. Unlike its Bologna neighbor, Ducati. the Malaguti factory was not bombed by the Allies for it was not a significant threat. In the late 1950s the company decided to expand business and began to private label other products and assemble new vehicles.
Similar to Ducati, Malaguti diversified into washing machines. exercise equipment and other manufactured goods that carried the Malaguti name. The company also sold many items to the Sachs company in Germany and have maintained a relationship with Sachs well into 2006, when Sachs declared bankruptcy.
Malaguti in America [ edit ]
Malaguti was originally imported into the United States during the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. At one point the small factory in Bologna had up to three daily flights sending mopeds to its five different importers who were paying more in air shipping than what the mopeds cost to make. This was the first major boom for Malaguti since the end of the Vietnam war.
Malaguti’s sales skyrocketed as it sent thousands of mopeds to California and other states to help Americans survive during the months of the OPEC oil embargo. Not since its first moped had Malaguti had such a hit with a new product. An assembled moped would be sold in America the following week. The demand was high and orders continued to be placed well into months after the OPEC crisis ended, but this sales boom did not last and Malaguti’s sales went down.
Malaguti survived when many of its competitors were going out of business due to overexpansion and overextended credit.
1980s and 1990s [ edit ]
In the early 80s there were over 82 moped / scooter manufacturers in Italy and most of these had made their fortunes in the early 70s thanks to the needs for new mopeds in Italy. By the late 1990s only a handful of companies remained who had converted to scooters to take advantage of the scooter boom. The main scooter makers were Beta. Benelli.
Italjet. Aprilia. Malaguti, Lambretta and Piaggio. Malaguti at this time and for much of the late 1990s was ranked as third based on sales and production for Italian owned factories for small displacement scooters.
Its much bigger rivals were Aprilia and Piaggio, both which were engaged in some type of motorcycle production. Despite all these changes, Malaguti, which had been in business longer than its rivals, kept the company 100% family owned during these turbulent times. Often the company reached out for promotional and marketing opportunities to its sister company Ducati Motor Spa.
2001 reintroduction [ edit ]
Malaguti watched as Piaggio Group (owners of Vespa ) and Aprilia were entering the US market and decided as the third largest company in Italy that they could not afford not to expand. Working with the Malaguti family for two years, an intern at Malaguti Italy hired to do market research finalized his proposal by late 2000 to be the official Malaguti importer for the US. The college student’s family had been involved in the scooter industry as retailers and importers with a small shop in Miami .
Malaguti’s cooperation with Ducati North America and the Ducati replicas allowed the company to quickly expand its brand presence. In early 2001 the high demand for European scooters, the high value of the dollar, and the increasing European dealer base in America made Malaguti an instant hit.
2005 withdrawal [ edit ]
However, the attack of September 11, 2001 almost shut the company down as stores across the country began to soon close or lose their sales for the months following the crisis. According to the former US importer the company lost 30 clients after September 11, but continued with the business plan as originally proposed. Most US importers were suddenly unable to import scooters or watched as its dealer base sat with inventory for months as the scooters suddenly stopped selling.
Malaguti USA was able to survive, but the increasing pressures from new inexpensive Chinese products in 2002, the sliding value of the US dollar in 2003, and the higher costs of production in Italy made it impossible to continue importing the product past 2005. This trend was seen in all three of the major Italian brands and their importers in America during this first scooter boom.
Companies like Aprilia expanded and lost millions in building its distribution empire across the world, including the U.S. It was common knowledge within the industry that Malaguti, Aprilia, and even Vespa were losing money on each scooter sold in the US during this time period. Malaguti continued to push into the American market onto late 2004 early 2005, but with the dollar sliding in value the US importer was unable to afford to keep importing the brand.
Once again the market had shifted and Malaguti had to leave the USA.
The former US importer of Malaguti continues to promote Malaguti with a new company, Martin Racing Performance www.MRP-SPEED.com which seems to be the only source of Malaguti parts for many countries in the Americas since Malaguti is no longer sold in South America or Central America due to the high Euro. Martin the owner has been quoted in the US press as saying he hopes Malaguti returns to the US and finds the proper investment for expansion as well as keeping such a great name alive.
Malaguti in Italy [ edit ]
In late 2004 a change in licensing laws and an easing of government subsidies created the worst bust in the history of Italian scooter sales. The crisis got worse in 2005 as more and more Italian moped and scooter companies began to close their doors. Malaguti was hit on all fronts as its European importers began to feel the weight of the influx of inexpensive Chinese imports.
Once again the Italian moped scooter market was in a state of flux and would have to adapt and change as its smaller displacement units gave way to inexpensive imports. This fall in sales and the overexpansion into America by the big three Italian scooter makers also added to Aprilias problems leading them to file for bankruptcy protection. Malaguti unable to sustain its US importer or lower its prices had to bow out of the market.
The competitive nature of the European market was further troubled by the rising influence of the Asian tigers. New brands from Asia were taking market share once held by the European brands. Talks between Malaguti and Ducati’s owners Texas Pacific Group for a possible merger between the two Bologna firms were unsuccessful.
Malaguti was also unable to find an Asian partner to expand its production or sales in Asia.
Piaggio decided to focus on survival by acquisition and began the first round of European mergers to decide the fate of European made scooters. Beta and Benelli stopped manufacturing scooters, ItalJet closed its doors and its designs purchased by Kinetic of India (though ItalJet has now been revived in Italy), Aprilia was purchased in bankruptcy by Piaggio.
As a result, Malaguti was classified as Italy’s second largest scooter manufacturer and remained family owned and operated until its closures. The company in its last days was run by the grandson of the founder, Antonino Malaguti II, after Learco Malaguti had retired. This was something of a rarity in the powersports business world and in Italy for this sector.
The company would be run by Antonino Malaguti II President and Marco Malaguti Vice President. The two brothers were responsible for the family company until its closure.
In late 2011 Malaguti went into receivership, resulting in the redundancy of 170 employees when the factory shut for good.
In December 2012 Malaguti announced the opening of its new Service Company. It is staffed by 30 plus employees dedicated to making sure there are replacement parts available to all the importers around the world and repairs local scooters as well.
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