After just six months in the job, former Software Sciences managing director Mike Shone believes he has managed to stop the rot at electronic point-of-sale systems specialists Hugin Group Plc. Now group chief executive at the Uxbridge, Middlesex-based multinational he says that following years of declining sales turnover for the year to December 31 will […]
After just six months in the job, former Software Sciences managing director Mike Shone believes he has managed to stop the rot at electronic point-of-sale systems specialists Hugin Group Plc. Now group chief executive at the Uxbridge, Middlesex-based multinational he says that following years of declining sales turnover for the year to December 31 will match the 1987 figure of $200m, and he is hoping that the company can break even after a series of loss making years. Hugin is one of the major suppliers in Europe and the US of EPOS systems, which are manufactured by sub-contractors to the group’s designs and specifications. Formed in 1928 it was bought out of Electrolux of Sweden in 1983 and is now a UK registered company owned mainly by City institutions. At the end of the first half of 1985 Hugin purchased troubled electronic cash register and point-of-sale terminal maker Sweda, thus relieving owners Litton Industries of one of its biggest headaches. Though Sweda was two and a half times bigger than Hugin it was hoped that the two companies would prove an excellent fit. However there was a substantial overlap in activities and the enlarged company has spent the last three years trying to rationalise its activities. There has been a shake-up of top management over the last 18 months resulting in an entirely new management team, and there has also been a number staff cuts, mainly in the US. The company currently employs 3,000 people worldwide, 200 in the UK, and it operates through 15 subsidiaries in 14 countries with a network of over 60 dealers. The US is the biggest market accounting for 25% of sales, then comes France, West Germany, Sweden, followed by the UK with about a 10% share. Shone admits that the company has been stuck with products that were not up to the minute, and a management team some of whom were not really used to retail systems. He believes the retail market has become more software-orientated – hence his appointment – and says Hugin is now committed to open standards, which means writing programs that run under Unix and using standard databases such as DB2 and Oracle. There are a number of new retail products due for release this year and the directors have budgeted for growth in 1989. However the number one priority is to get the group back into the black, and Shone is confident the company will show a small profit this year. He forecasts increased growth during 1990 leading to a position where the firm is in a healthy enough condition to consider a flotation by 1991.