Heidelberg CEO to step down next year

Heidelberg CEO Dr Gerold Linzbach (60) will leave the company when his contract ends next August, following what Heidelberg says is the successful turnaround of the business.

Industry outsider Linzbach was appointed chairman of the management board in 2012 and is largely credited with re-inventing Heidelberg as it suffered a near catastrophic drop in press sales following the GFC. On arrival at the company he announced there would be no sacred cows, and since then has been engaged in a strategy of digitalisation, partnership, and resizing to drag the company back into profit.

Heidelberg’s workforce of 11,500 is half of what it was before the GFC, service and consumables sales now account for half of all revenue, and much of the finishing division has been ditched, with manufacturing of the rest outsourced to Chinese partners.

Investment in R+D has been strong as Linzbach broke with tradition and embraced partnerships, resulting in Heidelberg becoming the first company in the world to launch a B1 sheetfed inkjet press, the Primefire 106, which it produced in collaboration with Fujifilm. It has also been developing its offset presses, visitors to its drupa stand saw the XL105 running three jobs in eight minutes, and heard that the company is looking to develop its offset presses further to become self-managing manufacturing units.

Among his other achievements Linzbach pulled Heidelberg out of Ipex 2014 causing the near collapse of the show as most other vendors took the cue and joined Heidelberg in a stampede out of the door. He also moved the entire headquarters staff including the board from the prestige building in the middle of town to the decidedly less salubrious nearby factory.

However Dr Linzbach suffered a stroke a year ago, which saw him off work for seven months, although he was back for drupa to front the company’s presence.

Heidelberg says that to ensure an orderly handover of functions, he will continue to serve the company until the scheduled end of his contractual term in August 2017 and, after Heidelberg’s successful restructuring, remains fully committed to promoting the Group’s strategic advancement together with his team. This allows the Supervisory Board sufficient time to find a suitable replacement.

The Supervisory Board of Heidelberg says it respects Dr Linzbach’s decision which it has accepted with great regret. At the same time, it has expressed its appreciation for Dr Linzbach’s intensive work and strong dedication in particular in connection with the successful repositioning.

It says Dr Linzbach has been strongly committed to the company and has lead Heidelberg into a new direction which is geared towards sustainable profitability and establishes the base for further growth, in particular in the segments digital, services and packaging.

According to Heidelberg following the successful repositioning, Dr Linzbach will dedicate his time to other entrepreneurial targets and start a new career phase of his life.


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