William Demant looking to implants for future growth


© Advanced Bionics

William Demant Holding Group, the world’s second-largest hearing aid manufacturer after Switzerland’s Sonova, is increasing investment in cochlear implants (CIs) to boost future growth. According to a report in the MailOnline, Demark-based William Demant A/S believes that demand for CIs could rise sharply to match revenues from traditional hearing aids within 10 years. This could help the company to catch up with faster growing rivals. Søren Nielsen, head of William Demant’s hearing aid business Oticon, told Reuters he expects sales of CIs to continue their current growth rate of 10-12% a year, compared with 2-4% for traditional devices.

“With current growth rates, it will only take 10 years before the implant market is as big as that of traditional hearing aids,” Nielsen predicted in a telephone interview from the industry’s most important annual conference EUHA held in Hannover, Germany in October. William Demant Holding Group has allocated a larger proportion of its research and development budget to CI technology, according to the company, and plans to launch new cochlear implants next year.

The group is trying to improve its outlook since its stock has lost some 20% since the start of 2014, the worst performer on Copenhagen’s main index, which has gained 4.5% this year. Danish rival GN Store Nord has had a better year with the release of its new hearing aid that can link directly to iPhones. William Demant’s revenues have increased 3% but Sonova posted 8% growth.

The article highlights that this strategy is not without risks: hearing aids are simpler devices in terms of use, and unlike CIs, do not require a medical procedure to insert an electronic device deep inside the ear.