Picker approaches Europe on dual track

October 9, 1991

Picker International is reorganizing its European operations,partly in response to expected increases in health-care investmentsin the new democracies of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The Cleveland medical imaging vendor is forming a

Picker International is reorganizing its European operations,partly in response to expected increases in health-care investmentsin the new democracies of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

The Cleveland medical imaging vendor is forming a Paris-basedorganization to target most of Western Europe, while its establishedGerman subsidiary will look east, said Christopher J. Peabody,senior vice president for international operations.

"Part of Picker's overall plan for growth is to put amuch stronger focus on our business outside the U.S.," Peabodysaid. "Our (non-U.S.) business has grown over 20% annuallyfor the last two years."

Picker has traditionally focused on U.S. sales, although itsGerman medical imaging market share runs third behind Siemensand Philips.

The Cleveland vendor almost exited Europe several years agowhen parent GEC of Great Britain nearly traded the German businessto GE Medical. GE did end up with a six-year agreement from Pickernot to sell into new accounts in the U.K. Chances are that Pickerwill restart that business in three years, said L. Michael Hinds,Picker vice president for Europe.

Hinds is moving to Paris to head up Picker's effort in WesternEurope, exclusive of Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Picker'sGerman company will handle these two markets as well as all ofEastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Picker is moving its Germanbase from Munich to a more central location in Frankfurt.

"We are putting substantial resources into Europe, whichis Picker's second largest market. We are building a new headquartersin Frankfurt and have invested another 40 million marks in ourGerman subsidiary," Peabody said.

Picker's bipolar structure in Europe will enable that imagingvendor to improve its position in France, Italy, Spain and theBenelux countries. The French imaging market used to be a near-monopolyunder Thomson-CGR, but is now only 40% to 45% controlled by GE-CGR.Picker has an almost nonexistent position in the French market.

"Our plan is to move progressively from distributors todirect organizations, but we have to do it one (country) at atime. France is our first target," Hinds said.

Spain is the fastest growing medical imaging market in Europeand is handled by Picker through a distributor. Picker does notyet have an organization functioning in Italy, but is negotiatingwith several prospective partners in that national market, hesaid.

Picker will compete with Siemens and Philips in Europe by targetingniche markets in CT, high-end nuclear, and x-ray products. Thevendor will open a CT training center in its new Frankfurt facilityonce the building is completed in April.