In this interview, Dr. David Schmedding, future member of the Executive Board for Sales and Service at HEIDELBERG, presents the company's latest solutions and innovations at drupa 2024 for the challenges faced by customers and talks about current developments at HEIDELBERG.

Mr. Schmedding, you will be the new Board Member for Sales and Service of HEIDELBERG from 1.7.2024. A steep ramp-up at drupa, so to speak. What is the main trend of the trade fair for you?

Dr. David Schmedding: I am looking forward to the task of helping to shape HEIDELBERG on its way forward as a member of the Management Board and developing it further in the interests of our customers. At drupa, we will see the reflection of a changing industry in which the market for printed products and therefore the relevant technologies are changing. At its core, however, it is still about innovations with which we help our customers to overcome their challenges - whether in the packaging or commercial sector. Cost pressure, a shortage of skilled workers, digitalization and sustainability are the main challenges facing our customers. We will also clearly address these at drupa and offer solutions.

It has now been eight years since the last drupa. A time in which a lot has also happened at HEIDELBERG. Would you bring us up to date?

Dr. David Schmedding: The printing industry, and HEIDELBERG as a result, has been in an ongoing phase of change and transformation for over 15 years now. HEIDELBERG is now in a much more stable financial position. Nevertheless, we are continuing to work on global efficiency improvements. Debt has been almost completely eliminated in recent years. Our financing is secured for the long term: In mid-2023, we were able to increase our financing framework to € 350 million, only a small portion of which has been utilized to date. The equity ratio is also at a solid level of over 20%. In addition, the company is expected to report a positive free cash flow this year for the first time in many years - excluding one-off effects from disposals.

And in the really short term: How are things shaping up for HEIDELBERG at drupa?

Dr. David Schmedding: Based on current information, we will achieve our targets for the financial year. We have communicated that we will maintain sales and the EBITDA margin at the previous year's level and at the same time achieve a positive free cash flow. Incoming orders in the fourth quarter (January to March 2024) are positive and, as things stand at present, above the figure for the fourth quarter of the previous year (January to March 2023). At drupa, we will be showcasing a firework display of innovations for packaging and commercial printing. We will be presenting highlights in the sheetfed offset, flexographic and digital segment.

Let's now look directly at drupa - and perhaps a little beyond. What does the future hold for HEIDELBERG, especially considering the recently announced changes to the Management Board?

Dr. David Schmedding: With the new Management Board constellation, we are also very well positioned for the future with clear areas of responsibility at the top of the company. I am very optimistic that the new CEO Jürgen Otto, CFO Tania von der Goltz and I will continue to drive HEIDELBERG forward positively. Of course, we will most likely still be feeling the financial after-effects of the purchasing restraint before the trade fair at the start of the new financial year. Discussions with our customers make us optimistic about the trade fair. Also, because we are presenting innovations such as the performance enhancements to the Speedmaster XL 106 Peak Performance. Digital Label and the Boardmaster in flexo packaging printing have also been very well received by the market. And we'll see what else we can show our customers at our stand at drupa - it's definitely worth coming by.

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