Zumtobel chief says restructure will boost sales

The Zumtobel Group’s new chief Ulrich Shumacher is to continue the restructuring of the business by bringing the brands closer together, developing lower-cost LED product ranges and boosting investment in controls.

The strategy is designed to tackle the influx of Asian entrants in the LED lighting market, who are threatening Zumtobel’s position as one of Europe’s top luminaire and control gear makers.

But Schumacher, who was appointed in September following the resignations of former CEO Harald Sommerer and chief finance officer Mathias Dähn in a row over strategy, ruled out large-scale job cuts as part of the strategy.  ‘The future of the company does not lie in job cuts,’ he told a packed press conference in Vienna.

From next month, manufacturing will be fully centralised across the two luminaire brands: architectural light maker Zumtobel and wholesale and specification fitting brand Thorn.  Zumtobel would remain a ‘premium brand’ said Schumacher, while Thorn would see a large extension of its outdoor product range and the addition of what he called ‘cost-effective volume products’ in the indoor sector.

Additionally, the company would unveil new offerings in the services side of the business and a range of new products for the high-growth lighting controls market.

‘My aim is to position the Zumtobel Group in such a way that as a whole we are more than the sum of our parts,’ said Schumacher, pictured.  ‘Our main strengths are our stable customer relationships that have evolved over decades, as well as our good market position in Europe. With all three brands we cover key areas of the value chain, which means we have the opportunity to offer our customers innovative system solutions from a single source.’

Despite the current low level of construction activity in Europe in particular, the new CEO sees opportunities for global growth:  ‘In a stable economic environment we expect to see industry growth of between 3 and 4 per cent. The factors driving this growth are energy-efficient LED and control technology, as well as demand from Asia.’

‘The global lighting market is currently going through a fundamental change. The Zumtobel Group is one of the few global players in a good starting position. I took on the role of CEO to demonstrate how we can generate added value for the Group through a multi-brand approach.

‘My goal is to draw on the combined strengths of all our brands to grow our market share and thereby lay the foundations for organic and external profitable growth.’

The Zumtobel Group also includes the control gear to LED component business, Tridonic.