Dental pioneer Nobel Biocare seeks way back to sales success

By June 4, 2013 January 2nd, 2020 No Comments

When Swede Goesta Larsson died in 2006, the titanium screw-in teeth put in his mouth more than 40 years earlier were still in good working order.

Now, Nobel Biocare Holding AG – the firm that grew from that first implant system – is trying to regain its initial success after seeing its profits and image hit in recent years.

Nobel is battling bad luck and bad decisions. Many European consumers stopped spending on cosmetic dentistry during thefinancial crisis and rivals pushed ahead with cheaper options. Nobel’s muddled strategy cost it management and sales reps. A costly ad campaign promised “Teeth In An Hour” but failed to point out not everyone would be eligible for its products…Nobel ceded some 7 percentage points of market share to competitors between 2007 and 2011 – a lot of custom for Richard Laube, appointed chief executive two years ago, to win back.affordable dental implants london

Controversially, Laube – a former head of Nestle’s nutrition business – has pinned his turnaround strategy on a recovery in the premium market rather than focusing on cheaper implants as some investors have urged.

Later this year Nobel plans to launch a new version of its NobelProcera scanner, which creates individualized dental prosthetics. Dentists using it will be able to offer a fast, personalized service which Laube hopes in turn will boost sales of its premium dental implants….However analysts and fund managers warned Nobel and some of its rivals have been waiting too long for their core market to recover. They urged the Swiss firm to come up with a development plan for its Alpha-Bio Tec discount brand too.

“Waiting is not an option anymore. They are still fixated on this golden age of strong growth. But the market…no longer exists. The mindset has to change,” Bischofberger dental implants london


The most popular markets for dental implants – Spain, Portugal and Italy – were among the hardest hit by the financial crisis. Clients in other countries were put off by the fact that implants costing thousands of dollars apiece are often not reimbursed by insurers because they constitute cosmetic surgery.affordable cosmetic dentistry london

Nobel’s main rival Straumann estimates two-thirds of people aged over 55 in the developed world are missing at least one tooth. But many will choose to put off treatment or opt for a cheaper bridge rather than a dental implant.

instant dental implants london Consequently Nobel and Straumann shares are below mid-2007 levels, while those of Essilor , the world’s largest opthalmic lenses maker, and Danish hearing aid maker GN Store Nord – whose products are refundable – are up 46 percent and 27 percent.

Among its peers Nobel shares are by far the biggest faller, down more than 85 percent since mid-2007. The firm’s operating margin sank from a high of 33.5 percent in 2005 to just 11.8 percent last year because of high fixed-costs despite falling sales, its position as a specialist – and its taste for expensive advertising and marketing campaigns…


Some 200 companies now compete in a global implant and dentistry market estimated at 5 billion Swiss francs ($5.2 billion) in 2012 by Straumann. “Value” brands account for about 60 percent of volume and the number of firms producing simple implants from cheaper materials continues to grow as customer numbers rise, particularly in China and Russia.

That makes it all the more urgent that Nobel reap the potential of its own discount brand Alpha-Bio Tec. Bought in 2008 the brand grew sales 20 percent last year but still contributes less than 5 percent of sales overall.

The arrival last August of Oliver Walker as Nobel’s new chief financial officer may help this process. Walker previously worked at Swiss hearing aid maker Sonova , where he gained know-how in selling both premium and discount products under that firm’s different brands.

Sebastian Buch, a portfolio manager at Union Investment Group, which owns around 3 percent of Nobel’s shares, said a bigger presence in the value market was key to recovery….read more


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