Gallus shake-up opens rumor mill (possibly)
This close-knit industry naturally has its full share of rumors and speculation about who is doing what to whom, especially where press makers are concerned. Among the more trivial of pursuits by industry watchers has been to theorize on what the Heidelberg giant will ever do with its 30 percent stake in Gallus Holding AG. It bought shares in the independent business in 1999, but since then little appears to have happened. No new line of presses have appeared to herald Heidelberg’s onslaught on the narrow web market. Perhaps its attention on the diversification front is fully occupied, such as battling with Xerox in the digital production color market. Instead, Gallus has not unreasonably called upon Heidelberg’s considerable sales and marketing expertise to win orders in parts of Asia and Eastern Europe.
For the record, they are said to have helped Gallus to report a good financial year for 2001 despite a “difficult economic environment.” Demand for narrow web presses was said to have dropped significantly, especially in the fourth quarter. Profitability was almost static, but said to be “above-average for the sector.”
Eminently more newsworthy has been the boardroom changes at the top. Klaus Bachstein, formerly head of sales and marketing, became chairman of group management (CEO) with overall operational responsibility for the Gallus Group. All well deserved, but the intriguing part is that his former job in charge of sales and marketing has gone to Klaus Aarestrup. As a newcomer, he headed up business development for narrow web printing at Heidelberg (which shows it was always serious about the market).
Another former Heidelberg appointee, Jon Guy, is now CEO of Gallus Inc., the US arm based in Philadelphia. He was formerly responsible for global sales of second-hand Heidelberg machines. Guy replaces Ferdinand Rüesch Jr. — grandson of the founder — who is back at headquarters in St. Gallen after serving 10 years in the USA. He is now vice chairman of the board of directors. As a member of the group management team he is responsible for managing key accounts. Peter J. Hauser, former CEO of the group, is the new chairman of Gallus Holding AG. Perhaps more news will come out of Labelexpo, but that’s only a rumor.