Demant's rosy half-year hearing healthcare performance down to innovation, says CEO Søren Nielsen



© Demant

Demant, the Danish group behind Oticon hearing aids and many other audiology products, published a healthy 2021 interim report this August, highlighting its 51% organic growth and market share gains in Hearing Healthcare, and delivering an upward-revised organic growth outlook, from May's 24-28%, to 26-30%.

The financial health of Demant, which would be A1 but for a "temporary slowdown" in growth in its communications business and slow organic growth in the Covid-impacted implants market, is a reliable reflection of the recovery of the hearing aid market since the hit it suffered in 2020.

With the success of its flagship new Oticon More device boosting the overall picture, Demant announced 17% organic Growth H1 2021 vs H1 2019 in hearing aids, ringing up 4,416m DKK (approx. 594m euros) in sales.

The recovery of the hearing aid market was particularly strong through second-quarter release of pent-up demand in the US, while the group also stressed short-term positive impact of the hearing healthcare reform in France.

Innovation behind growth

Demant CEO Søren Nielsen told Audiology Worldnews that the group's strategy for maintaining growth relies heavily on expanding recruitment of technology experts. "Technology today expands very rapidly and it is continuously more and more complicated systems that you bring into play. A modern hearing aid is a very very advanced computer system that can communicate with a phone, networks, and deep neural networks to make even more sophisticated signal procession, so a product such as Oticon More is a very very advanced and modern product," said Nielsen.

© Demant CEO Søren Nielsen: "A big element of growth is our diagnostics business."

"The main drive underneath everything is innovation: innovation in hearing aids, technology development, product concept, audiology, and signal processing, and the same in implants, diagnostics, and in our communication. Innovation remains the key driver for growth, obtaining market share; the more and better solutions we can offer to our customers and end users, the better," the Demant supremo continued.

Oticon More and Philips HearLink are Demant's current crown jewels in hearing aids. "They are instrumental. It has been shown for many years in this industry that the leading manufacturers are the ones that really master the latest technology and can deliver superior performance to the end user. So both Oticon More and Philips Hearlink are examples of such products,"Nielsen affirmed, adding: "Other than that it is a question of expanding your global footprint, the number of markets you operate in, stronger and stronger organisations in each of your markets, again to support customers up there in the best possible way."

Demant diagnostics gain market share

Another positive trend for Demand these past six months has appeared in its diagnostics equipment business - marketed worldwide through brands such as Grason-Stadler,MedRx, Interacoustics, and Maico - which exited H1 with an all-time high number of orders for the group, registering a 35% growth (in local currencies) over 2019.

"A big element of growth, as you can also see from the numbers growing 31% since 2019," said CEO Nielsen, "is our diagnostics business, which goes way beyond people who fit hearing aids, going also to ENT doctors, newborn screening, etc., and that's a business where we have grown a very solid position over the last few years.

The 2021 success in diagnostics is put down by Nielsen to "a very strong service organisation that makes sure things get out to customers and work." And he again underlines innovation as a factor. "We have a number of new products in areas. We are expanding a lot in balance this year, and we have different kinds of diagnostic and treatment equipment for this which can be very profound for people if you can't get it solved."

Clouds ahead?

For Nielsen of Demant, skies are clearing in terms of the pandemic. "I think we are all part of the world where there's some uncertainty related to Corona, but I currently don't expect widespread lockdowns. Corona is stil there but the actions taken are fewer and fewer. I think Denmark and the UK are in very similar situations: the restrictions left are being lifted despite what you would call relatively high case numbers, but they are all happening among people who, if they get Corona, will not get seriously ill, and therefore there is still a push for vaccinations but society is normalising despite Corona still being there, and that's the development we expect also in the rest of the world," he added.

Source: Demant