Heidelberg Predicts Difficult Market Conditions and Adopts Comprehensive Package of Measures to Enhance the Cost Structure

Heidelberg Predicts Difficult Market Conditions and Adopts Comprehensive Package of Measures to Enhance the Cost Structure


Preliminary results for the first quarter
The difficult underlying conditions have also affected the preliminary results for the first quarter of the 2008/2009 financial year (April 1 to June 30). Preliminary sales achieved by Heidelberg in the first quarter amounted to between 640 and 660 million Euro (previous year: 742 million Euro). As already announced, the fall-off in sales compared to the previous year coupled with higher costs will produce a negative quarterly result for Heidelberg. Based on preliminary calculations, the operating result will be minus 35 to minus 40 million Euro. Due to the purchase of Hi-Tech Coatings, the cost of drupa and lower sales, the free cash flow will be clearly below the previous year\\\’s level at minus 200 to minus 220 million Euro (previous year: minus 81 million Euro).

Incoming orders received at drupa exceed expectations
The news on preliminary incoming orders for the first quarter is more positive. Heidelberg received orders amounting to between 1.1 and 1.15 billion Euro (previous year: 934 million Euro). This is satisfactory in the context of the leading industry trade show drupa, which made a major contribution to this good order intake. Heidelberg successfully established itself on the packaging printing market and as a full-service provider, including consumables, at drupa. There was also a huge amount of interest in the launch of the new very large format. Most of the contracts concluded at the trade show will be reflected in the sales figures for the second and third quarters.

Based on the orders placed at drupa, Heidelberg predicts that sales and the results for the second and third quarters of 2008/2009 will be up on the first quarter.

For the 2008/2009 financial year as a whole the company does not expect to match the previous year\\\’s sales and operating result.

Due to the uncertain economic situation worldwide and the volatile market environment, it will not be possible to provide a reliable forecast of the key figures for the 2008/2009 financial year as a whole until later in the year. This outlook will be published no later than with the half-yearly results at the beginning of November

Comprehensive package of measures with four key components
The Management Board confirms the growth strategy that has been embarked upon, which focuses on packaging printing and services for the print media industry. Any reduction in manufacturing capacity over the coming months will not extend beyond the flexibility agreements entered into.

In order to counter rising costs, the Heidelberg Management Board has prepared a comprehensive package of cost-cutting measures to be implemented with immediate effect. The package\\\’s four main focal points are reducing R&D expenditures, restructuring postpress packaging activities, significantly increasing the proportion of purchases made outside the euro zone, strengthening international production sites, and achieving a substantial reduction in structural costs.

Overall, these measures are intended to result in savings of around 100 million Euro by financial year 2010/2011. The aim is to achieve a large proportion of this – 75 million Euro – within the next 18 months. This package of measures will initially increase costs to the tune of a further about 70 million Euro in the current financial year 2008/2009 and another 30 million Euro until financial year 2010/2011.

\”In addition to the drupa trade show, which can be deemed satisfactory overall, we have also been putting a great deal of work into our medium- to long-term strategy. This has made it clear that the all in all increasing costs call for a further significant adjustment to our cost structures. The package of measures adopted takes into account all key areas,\\\” says Heidelberg CEO Bernhard Schreier, stressing the urgency of the measures.

Reducing R&D expenditure
Heidelberg will be making immediate changes to its R&D strategy. Improving efficiency and pooling development activities should result in short term savings of at least 25 million Euro. This will lower R&D expenditures from their current level by a good ten percent. Consolidating R&D locations will also help cut costs. In the medium term, R&D expenditures are to be cut to less than five percent of total sales.

Restructuring postpress packaging activities
Over the next three years, Heidelberg will be restructuring its postpress packaging business. In the entire Postpress sector the operating result is to be increased by 20 million Euro until 2010/2011. This is to be achieved by consolidating production capacities, transferring certain operations to Slovakia, and restructuring R&D activities within this product area. The packaging market segment – and expanding services and consumables activities – still represents a growth driver on a struggling market. Unlocking this potential should further reduce the cyclicity of the Heidelberg business model while also boosting sales and results.

Increasing purchasing and production outside the euro zone
Intensifying purchasing activities outside the euro zone and expanding production in other countries will have positive effects. Overall, the purchasing volume outside the euro area is to be increased from the current level of around 40 million Euro to almost 200 million Euro in financial year 2010/2011. Heidelberg will also continue to push ahead with production in other countries. The plants in China and Slovakia are to be expanded, and it is also intended to transfer production of a small-format press to the site in the U.S., which has the largest sales market for this product. Overall, these measures will result in cost savings of around 15 million Euro.

Lowering structural costs
In addition, Heidelberg is planning to cut structural costs. Over the next 24 months, the company intends to save indirect costs of 40 million Euro, around ten million Euro of this in the current financial year.

The entire package of cost-cutting measures will also impact on the Heidelberg Group\’s workforce. Honoring the agreement on safeguarding the future, which runs until 2012, and subject to meetings with employee representatives, around 500 jobs are to be shed worldwide by the end of financial year 2010/2011. As of March 31, 2008, the Heidelberg Group employed 19,596 staff worldwide.

Additional details on the company can be found at www.heidelberg.com.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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