STÄFA, SWITZERLAND—Sonova Holding AG, the world’s largest hearing aid manufacturer, announced today (March 2) that it will acquire three German hearing aid companies: Hansaton Akustik GmBH, which is a family-run hearing aid wholesaler, and two retail chains, Vitakustik GmbH and Fiebing Hörtechnik GmbH. The purchase prices were not disclosed.
Sonova, which owns Phonak, Unitron, and Advanced Bionics, among other companies, stated that the acquisition of Hansaton would enable it to extend its offerings of hearing care solutions. Hansaton, which had sales of 42 million Euros (about $47 million) in 2014, employs around 200 people worldwide and owns centers in Germany, the U.S., and France. Hansaton, which was founded in 1957, will remain an independent wholesale company with its headquarters in Hamburg, Sonova said.
In its statement, Sonova said that the purchase of Vitakustik and Fiebing Hörtechnik, “two successful high-quality retail chains,” would provide “a solid basis for [its] expanded retail strategy of the Sonova Group.”
Sonova’s actions to strengthen its wholesale and retail sales networks follow recent announcements by William Demant and GN ReSound, Sonova’s chief competitors, to increase their distribution channels in the U.S. and Europe.
Along with reporting its latest expansion, Sonova also announced this week that it will take steps to control costs.
It plans to transfer about 100 positions in product assembly from Switzerland to existing plants in the United Kingdom and in China. The company stated that “the vast majority of Sonova’s hearing instrument production is already based in China and Vietnam.”
In addition, Sonova has imposed a 2015 salary freeze on Swiss based-management and employees.
Like other Swiss companies, Sonova is affected by their country’s recent decision to allow the value of the franc to rise against the euro. Now, a euro is worth only 1.06 Swiss francs, about 10% less than it was just two months ago.
This means that costs rise in Switzerland, and Swiss exports become more expensive in foreign markets. Moving some jobs and production out of the country helps offset the effects of the surging franc.
Commenting on Sonova’s actions, Lukas Braunschweiler, the CEO, said, “The strategic moves will extend our market leadership position and at the same time assure the cost competitiveness of Sonova’s Swiss-based operations.”