The name Heidelberg is almost synonymous with printing, and Heidelberg Financial Services meets the particular needs of the many small to medium-sized companies that make up the printing sector. The printing industry is always first to suffer in a financial crisis and is always the last to recover. Nevertheless, Heidelberg managed the turnaround and drove down costs with the support of White Clarke Group’s CALMS solution.
Heidelberg sells printing presses and equipment around the globe and has adopted an interesting strategy for providing finance for printers. For its worldwide operations, the key strategy is to externalise financing to banks and other financial institutions who are acting as financing partners of Heidelberg.
Recognising the nature of the printing sector (small companies, high investment cost, complex financing agreements), it owns seven “Print Finance” companies, each acting as lender of last resort. This calls for considerable agility, with strong risk management and uniquely tailored contracts; more so than in other finance sectors, a tight lid has to be kept on internal administrative costs.
At the time, Alexander Müller, Managing Director of Print Finance Vermittlung GmbH, Germany, explained; “Our industry was hit very hard by the recession. Commercial printing always retracts violently at the onset of an economic decline. Although the worldwide printing volume is still stable, we’re seeing structural changes in the communications business, and news content is shifting from print to digital.”
Heidelberg navigated an economic turnaround and drove down costs with CALMS
The company recognised the need to make better use of data technology for its financing activities. “Flexibility was high on the list of our decision-making criteria,” explained Müller. “It had to be an end-to-end solution tailorable to our ‘lender of last resort’ marketing strategy. It had to be truly international, as well as fit our way of performing overseas trade— we do not operate cross-border, and we have a unique way of moving funds. Finally, it had to have an SAP interface to allow us to mesh with our parent company.”
“Flexibility was high on the list”
Heidelberg Financial Services looked at four potential suppliers and selected the CALMS platform because it ticked all the boxes during the selection process.
“Everything went smoothly, including implementation overseas, where we were previously relying on spreadsheets. We now enjoy significantly better data security and have improved the way we monitor performance. Bottom line, we can manage risks better than ever before.”
Despite everything the recession threw at Heidelberg, the financial services segment of the company has managed to even increase its penetration of parent sales compared to the previous fiscal years, which in turn has meant an increase in profit. Alexander Müller summarised the relationship as “a great system and a great partnership.”