Picker sales rise in tough market

July 3, 1991

Picker International experienced growing sales and profits infiscal 1991 (end-March), despite an increasingly competitive health-caremarket. Picker hopes to boost sales even further this year withthe hiring of an additional account executive for each of

Picker International experienced growing sales and profits infiscal 1991 (end-March), despite an increasingly competitive health-caremarket. Picker hopes to boost sales even further this year withthe hiring of an additional account executive for each of its15 U.S. regional offices, said Rob Spademan, director of communications.

Revenues for the medical imaging vendor rose 12% from $729million in 1990 to $814 million last year. Profits before taxesand interest payments were also up by 12%, from $42 million to$47 million (see graph).

Picker is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Electric Co.(GEC) of the U.K. and, as such, is not obliged to release itsfinancial results. But, if you've got it, flaunt it.

"We had a great year (in 1991)," Spademan said. "Wespent more and made more."

GEC, on the other hand, is struggling through a deeper recessionin Great Britain and other parts of Europe, he said.

"Picker is going against that grain (within the parentcompany)," he said.

Improving results may be harder this year, however. Hospitalsare apparently finding it difficult to raise money for equipmentpurchases. Vendors that can offer creative financing alternativeswill have a growing advantage, Spademan said. Picker providesits financing through U.S. Concord, a third-party company.

As Picker builds its medical imaging business, it is reachinginto new markets and encountering considerable competition. Hospitalsare also bargaining harder, he said.

Picker conducted focus groups consisting of hospital administrators,radiologists and technologists last month in Cleveland, in preparationfor a fall advertising campaign. Spademan was struck by the restrainedattitudes regarding equipment purchases.

The administrators in the focus groups said their radiologistsare becoming less prone to demand Cadillac scanners. They recognizethat they can't have all the equipment they want and are willingto work more closely with administrators, he said.

Part of Picker's sales growth has resulted from a revitalizedeffort in standard x-ray. The vendor introduced 20 new x-ray productsover the past two years.

Picker negotiated a new three-year contract with its 125-memberx-ray manufacturing union in Cleveland last month. The workersaccepted a $1 per hour pay rollback in exchange for increasedinsurance, retirement, tuition assistance and other fringe benefits.