Chairman of the Management Board Heidelberger Druckmaschinen Aktiengesellschaft
As expected, during the financial year the printing industry in the newly industrializing countries rebounded. In the industrialized countries, our industry is on the threshold of a turnaround; this is the view of the German Engineering Federation as well. Without question, we still face some challenges. Nevertheless, I am pleased to state that this Annual Report largely contains good news for you. An overview of the topics that we discuss in depth in this Report illustrates this:
Our outstanding employees have quite clearly been the cause of our being on the right track and of my ability to draw a favorable picture. They swiftly implemented the necessary restructuring measures and processing changes despite short-time work. They ensured that print shops continue to place their complete trust in Heidelberg, especially with regard to quality, reliability, and our customer-driven focus. At the same time, they also carried the main burden of the cost reductions. On behalf of my colleagues on the Management Board, I wish to extend my sincere thanks for their dedication and endurance!
Despite the altogether gratifying developments, once again we had to make use of flexible workingtime instruments at the beginning of the current financial year. This was necessary in order to establish the economic prerequisites for our overall refinancing requirements. Some may wonder why, then, we did not cut back jobs further. It would simply be unprofitable today to let go qualified and experienced specialists, many of whom have already completed their training with us, only to again look for, and train, new employees at considerable expense a year down the line in order to cope with the volume of orders. For we assume that demand in our industry, as well as for our products, will rise further. This is because as underlying conditions become more favorable, investments in the industrialized countries will pick up again. It is currently difficult to foresee exactly when this will occur – especially in the US. Moreover, it is still unclear what impact the catastrophe in Japan will have on the global economy. We focus on helping affected print shops to the greatest possible extent. Our business development in the Japanese market has come to a complete standstill. Developments in recent years have shown the extent to which economic activity can change direction, both upwards as well as downwards.
Our Group is also prepared for difficult times. This is one favorable outcome of what has so far been the worst crisis ever experienced by the printing industry. Heidelberg has become more flexible, has the best and most comprehensive portfolio in our industry, and has tough employees. There are enough reasons to have an optimistic view of the future – among others, because we know what challenges our customers can overcome working together with us. In recent years, our employees have proven to print shops that thanks to our offerings of printing presses and services, we are partners who not only promise success, but who actively contribute to their success. With our financial stability and lower break-even point, we have laid the foundation for sustained and profitable growth, thereby making it possible for us to again offer our shareholders attractive value added in the medium term. I would like to thank all those who contributed to ensuring realization of the prerequisites for this: the German Federal States, the German Federal Government, and the banks, who believed in Heidelberg during the Companys most difficult time and who provided us with guarantees and credits, as well as our employees, customers, and investors!
Chairman of the Management Board
Heidelberger Druckmaschinen Aktiengesellschaft