Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Wheelchair division reverses trend

Location Königssee

Ottobock continues Human Mobility business unit after realignment and hires skilled staff

Human Mobility, the wheelchair division of Ottobock, is back on course. After almost two years in which the company has undertaken restructuring measures, the interim goal of pulling the wheelchair division out of the red has been reached.

In May 2018, Christian Stenske, Managing Director of Otto Bock Mobility Solutions GmbH, announced job cuts in Königsee, Thuringia, as part of the realignment. At the time, around 50 jobs were affected, 40 of which were dismissals for operational reasons. This was due to the losses in the millions that the wheelchair division of the medical technology company Ottobock in Lower Saxony had recently incurred, which made the business unit unprofitable.

"I am very pleased that we not only achieved our interim goal, but slightly exceeded it, thus securing the continued existence of Human Mobility at Ottobock for the time being," says Christian Stenske. The target refers to EBITDA – earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization – which is adjusted for special and non-recurring effects.

In order to achieve this milestone, the portfolio was reduced from 120 to 75 products and a strategically important location was opened in Berlin. Manufacturing and administrative processes have been professionalized in the wheelchair segment.

Initially, the drop in productivity had led the manufacturer to fear a significant reduction of more than 100 jobs. "Fortunately, this did not happen. In the meantime, the order situation has become so good, demand has risen so strongly that we can start recruiting faster than expected," says Stenske. However, further steps are needed to ensure the continued existence of Human Mobility in the company in the long term. "The turnaround has not yet been achieved," says Stenske. "Now it is a matter of turning a formerly loss-making business into a profitable one. Ottobock is growing and Human Mobility should grow with it."

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Merle Florstedt

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