As the saying goes when Heidelberg sneezes, the printing industry catches a cold. Past few years was tough for many industries including Heidelberg. The German giant and the number one press manufacturer in the world has shaped the printing industry for many years and in order to find out what is Heidelberg’s strategy for post Covid recovery in our region we talked with Roger Nicodeme, general manager at Heidelberg Gulf Est. Here are the excerpts:
Heidelberg is aggressively reducing headcounts all over the world including 20% in UK, what is Heidelberg Middle East strategy as far as restructuring concerned? Do you also plan to reduce number of employees or you already done that?
Heidelberg Middle East will not be reducing headcounts. We are serving our market with the existing people and we will continue to do so as long as our customers are doing good business in the market.
Recently Heidelberg reported cautious optimism due to increase activity in some countries, specially China. Although the company still believes sales in new financial year will be significantly down because of the Covid 19 pandemic, in your opinion where does Middle East stands? Do you see increased activity or we should expect a dismal financial year ahead of us?
Covid 19 will definitely affect the printing industry. However, we are working on some big projects especially in the packaging and label industry. We are expecting that the market will be slightly down but not significantly down. Our partner MK started manufacturing Mask making machines and we are now actively selling and installing those machines in our market.
Heidelberg’s earnings during last fiscal year was disappointing (mainly because of Coronavirus crisis) and the company also ended the production of its large format offset presses as well as Primefire inkjet machines, this is all sounds alarming, what is Heidelberg’s strategy to get back in black?
Heidelberg will undergo a major transformation; they will focus on what they are doing best. The video they published by Heidelberghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR8JneuYHy4&t=50s speaks for itself.
Heidelberg introduced subscription model for selling equipment to printers, some European companies also subscribed to this model including Axel Springer in Germany, do you believe this model works for printers in our region? Why?
I don’t think this is a good model for our region; as there are many challenges when it comes to the standardization of the consumables and to financing such large projects over a number of years. The financial institutions in the region should be convinced about this model and I don’t think it is the right time for that.
Will Heidelberg participate in Drupa 2021?
In principle yes; however, it all depends on the Covid pandemic situation.
Are you planning any virtual event for printers in our region ahead of drupa?
We have already conducted a virtual event in March, and we will inform our customers ahead of any upcoming events.
Heidelberg’s Chief executive Rainer Hundsdörfer described 2019 as a year of “clarity and consequences for us”, what does he mean? And what year 2020 has in store for Heidelberg?
2019 is the year of clarity because Heidelberg took the decision to start the transformation in 2019. The CEO explained about those measures in a detailed video to the press. Those transformations will affect Heidelberg in general during the years to come, not only in 2020. However, the main objective is clear that Heidelberg will keep moving forward and they will press ahead, they will focus on what they are doing best.
Masterwork now is the biggest shareholder in Heidelberg do you believe eventually they will be the only shareholder, especially now that Heidelberg’s shares are undervalued?
I don’t think so; as there are many other big shareholders. Heidelberg is publicly owned, and the laws will not allow this to happen!
The past financial year saw the departure of a number of long-standing and high-profile board members, maybe too many changes, do you think the company now is stable or we will be witnessing more changes within board of directors?
I believe the changes were already done and those changes will be to the benefit of the company.