Outlook on 2021
Probably no one expected the course of 2020 in this form. Instead of addressing global trends, many companies had to face Covid-19 and not everyone will survive the crisis. With the persistently high infection rates and the measures adopted, it is clear that 2021 will be just as marked by the Corona crisis. Topics such as adaptation and, above all, resilience play a major role in the face of existential fears. But what other topics will occupy the economy in the coming year besides the pandemic and to what extent has structural change been influenced by the crisis?
The global economy in 2021 will be shaped, among other things, by the world's largest free trade agreement, which the economically leading countries of the Asia-Pacific region have signed. The agreement will mark a turning point in the geopolitical world order and the PR China in particular will benefit from it. In 2020, China's economy still grew by 2%, in contrast to other nations, despite the Corona pandemic fallout. In November 2020, China's exports increased by 20% compared to the same month last year. Dependence on China will continue to increase in the coming years. It will become all the more important for Germany and Europe to, on the one hand, revive the partnership with the USA and, on the other hand, further expand their presence in the Asian markets. Furthermore, the economic development of the two economies, the USA and China, is being driven by enormous stimulus packages, so that the export-strong German economy in particular could benefit from this. In addition, the ECB will continue to maintain its package of measures so that the European economy is supported. Although a Brexit trade agreement has been reached between the United Kingdom and the EU, the country's exit from the EU will continue to occupy the economy in the new year. However, Brexit will hit the UK harder as the EU is the largest trading market for the UK. Due to the provision of vaccines and further fiscal policy measures, it can be assumed that the economy will develop positively in the course of the year, provided that the lockdown is ended in the course of the first quarter.
With the ongoing lockdown, a return to pre-crisis levels in 2021 is increasingly unlikely. However, it can be assumed that there will be further massive support measures for the economy from politicians, at least until the upcoming federal election. Various packages of measures as well as a temporary suspension of the obligation to file for insolvency (mainly due to over-indebtedness) have at least postponed the impending wave of insolvencies into the future. Essentially all sectors are affected by the Corona crisis. Examples include the hospitality industry, trade, the hotel industry as well as the mobility and event sector, which were hit hardest by the measures. Various companies will still have to claim short-time allowances on a large scale.
In addition, the "Act on the Stabilisation and Restructuring Framework for Companies" (StaRUG) came into force on 01 January. The law obliges the management of a company to protect the interests of creditors and to implement a system for early crisis detection in its corporate organisation. In future, companies will have to pay more attention to their liquidity planning. In general, the law aims to distinguish more clearly between over-indebtedness and imminent insolvency and to enable early corporate restructuring as a measure to avert insolvency.
Another factor that will have an impact on German society is the Bundestag elections in autumn 2021. After 16 years and four legislative periods, Angela Merkel's term in office will come to an end. The study "Young Germans 2021" makes it clear that young people currently feel abandoned by politics. With a view to the Bundestag elections, it is evident that politics must win over young voters who grew up with Merkel and address socially relevant issues. The future federal government will determine the political-strategic direction of Germany in the national and global sphere.
After the end of the lockdown, there will be catch-up effects in trade, at least for some sectors. However, a large part of the trade will face a tense business year due to the long lockdown and the hygiene measures that will certainly continue. A large number of insolvencies are expected. However, the problems, especially in the stationary retail trade, are not exclusively due to the Corona pandemic. They lie much further in the past. The structural problems have caught up with retailers faster than expected and are accelerating the market shakeout in the segment. Sustainable offers, such as second hand and circular fashion and/or articles, are becoming stronger in terms of sales, as people are increasingly more conscious of their consumer behaviour.
In addition, the issues of connectivity and technology are changing retail in that staffless shopping or in-store digital presentations will become more prevalent. Retailers should also introduce new technologies such as augmented reality. However, this will require technology-savvy employees. There will also be a re-evaluation of the location and even stronger networking between online and stationary business. The question will arise whether an online business with occasionally opened pop-up stores is preferable to a purely stationary business model.
Furthermore, the current crisis is accelerating the transformation of city centres. The dominance of chain stores has already increased in recent years. With the home office, above all the movement profile and buying behaviour in the big cities has changed. People are increasingly staying in their neighbourhoods and using local retailers and gastronomy, which is a great opportunity for smaller owner-operated shops. In addition, hybrid models will prevail. Consumers will want to shop in independent shops. Above all, mixed-use cities and mixed-use neighbourhoods will establish themselves in order to make the transition from a car-oriented city to a compact city that meets the demands of urbanisation. Sustainable neighbourhoods are characterised by a holistic mix of uses, including workplaces, shopping and leisure facilities, social meeting places and residential areas.
In the field of e-commerce, direct-to-consumer (D2C) business will become elementary. More and more manufacturers of consumer goods are relying on direct customer contact to sell their products. Intermediaries are losing relevance. This is caused, among other things, by shopping via social media, so-called social commerce, and messenger shopping, so-called conversational commerce. In addition, food retailers and producers of fast-moving consumer goods, so-called FMCG companies, are adapting their business model to online retailing. Subscription models and click & collect, which were well suited during the Corona crisis, will continue to establish themselves. E-commerce also benefits logistics, which primarily has to optimise the so-called last mile of delivery. It is conceivable that suppliers in less densely populated areas will cooperate, split up spatially and/or that delivery by drone will become established in rural regions in the future.
Real estate markets always react to economic changes with a time lag. The recession in the wake of the pandemic will primarily affect rents and property values in the course of 2021. Commercial properties in the retail sector as well as hotels are suffering the most from the crisis, on the one hand because of the lockdown measures and on the other hand because of the changing buying behaviour of consumers. Consequently, there have been and will be further rent losses. There is a threat of vacancies in the medium term, especially in less favoured locations. Consequently, the price declines that already occurred before the pandemic will continue in some regions for commercial properties.In contrast, space turnover for office properties has declined for the time being in the course of 2020. Partly due to low vacancy rates and a low level of new construction activity in the past, the increasing restraint of investors in office space has so far had no impact on the development of rents. In 2021, the demand for office space is likely to be weaker due to the previous development and have a dampening effect on rent development. However, free-standing space will remain manageable given the low starting level, so pronounced rent declines are unlikely.
The market for residential real estate has been very robust so far. Explicitly the rural regions or the surrounding districts of metropolitan regions will benefit from the crisis period in the long term. The phase of lockdowns has further increased the appreciation of one's own residential property. Many households have realised how important sufficient space can be. The surrounding regions are particularly interesting for families, because in the cities there is sometimes an excess of demand, so that there is no slump in the purchase prices for residential property. This is helped by the fact that property loans are currently at hardly more than 1%. This fact has since caused a stable residential construction market.
Trade fairs / events
The trade fair and event industry is one of the sectors most affected by the Corona crisis. Further support for the industry is planned by the federal government. Concert organisers are to be encouraged to plan events. To this end, the federal government wants to make all expenses billable that cannot be realised against all expectations due to the Corona restrictions. In addition, a support programme for the cultural sector is to be enacted in 2021. In general, the trade fair and event industry will be characterised by after-hours events in the coming year. So far, Germany has been the world market leader in the trade fair industry. But the focus will shift to the Far East after China already organised numerous trade fairs in the pandemic year. In Germany, on the other hand, private trade fair companies are threatened with insolvency. A future trend is that roadshows and online events will be a perspective for companies to acquire new customers independently of large trade fairs.
Hospitality industry (restaurants and hotels)
The slump in sales in the event industry and the lockdown also had consequences for the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry was one of the first to be forced to close in the wake of the pandemic, and was thus only able to generate limited turnover through delivery services and "take-away". It can be assumed that the catering industry will be considered for relaxation measures at a late stage. Due to the contact restrictions still in force as well as hygiene and safety measures, there will certainly be restrictions throughout the year, so that significantly fewer guests can be catered for. The reduced VAT for meals to 7%, which applies until 30 June 2021, will not be able to compensate for this to any extent. According to a DEHOGA survey from December 2020, 70% of hospitality businesses see their existence at risk. State aid is indispensable for these businesses. Nevertheless, the hospitality industry must become more resilient and diversify its offer.
Furthermore, it is evident that eating habits and gastronomic offerings are in a state of upheaval. The trend, which was already visible before the pandemic, is metamorphosing towards organically grown food, regionality and seasonality. Regional offers keep transport distances short and promote the local economy. At the beginning of 2020, the demand for organic food increased. This movement continued throughout the year and will continue in the coming year. The pandemic has strengthened the desire for healthy food and sustainability.
The hospitality industry, primarily in the high-priced sector as well as in metropolitan regions, is also dependent on business travellers. Quite a few companies have realised during the crisis that virtual meetings can be just as effective and will therefore increasingly rely on this type of exchange in the future. The meeting culture will change fundamentally and permanently. Even though the majority of companies will return to face-to-face meetings, a decline in business travel is to be expected. This development will also affect hotels in the cities. The slump in the business travel segment was massive last year. Especially hotels that have leased their buildings are threatened in their existence due to the high fixed costs.
Even though there is an emerging trend that more and more people prefer holidays in Germany to holidays abroad, German tourism is in crisis. Tour operators are adjusting their portfolio to the extent that they are offering more domestic destinations and Mediterranean regions. In 2020, every fourth TUI trip was to Hellas. Regions where the pandemic is expected to be mild are preferred. In order to achieve an increase in bookings by package travellers, TUI is now focusing on different rates of holiday packages with flights, accommodation as well as additional services in the form of flexibility. There are also signs of a stronger trend towards holiday flats and houses as well as self-sufficient travel options. Furthermore, short breaks in the city and the great outdoors are among the favourites of German holidaymakers for 2021. These trips are mostly organised privately and without travel agencies. The camping industry in particular proved to be a winner in the crisis. While tour operators and hoteliers fear for their existence, 2020 turned out to be a record year for the camping industry.
Meanwhile, the cruise industry is marked by an uncertain future. The shipping companies and shipyards are an important factor for the economy in northern Germany. Due to the loss of sales, higher prices for cruises are also being calculated. However, cruise holidaymakers will be unsettled in 2021 and remain hesitant about bookings. Not only is recurring information about cancellations and route changes unsettling, but also the uncertainty about what restrictions can be expected during the voyage discourages booking. From the point of view of German holidaymakers, cruise tourism as well as individual and package tours will continue to expand from near-regions such as the North Sea and Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean in the medium term and to increasingly intercontinental destinations in the long term.
Another factor is that many holidaymakers consider a vaccine against Covid-19 necessary before booking a trip abroad. Therefore, intercontinental travel will probably not be possible on a larger scale until the end of 2021, when many people have been vaccinated and quarantine obligations have been lifted. However, these trips require a lot of planning due to the flights to and from the country. Therefore, it can be assumed that 2021 will be a transition year for the travel industry. Mass tourism will not take place abroad, but locally in recreational areas. Holidays in Germany will become a fully-fledged substitute for annual holidays lasting several weeks. Tour operators must therefore act flexibly in relation to the current situation. Offers that can be rebooked and cancelled free of charge, last-minute bookings and a comprehensive digitalised security concept will be indispensable.
Along with the severely curtailed tourism and the absence of business travel, there were considerable slumps in the aviation sector. These could not even be compensated by the increasing cargo sector, as cargo capacities in passenger aircraft were also eliminated on a large scale.
Aviation is in a profound crisis and, according to IATA, will probably not be able to recover to pre-crisis levels until 2024 – although a much faster recovery is to be expected for short and medium-haul routes than for long-haul. Long-haul routes across the Atlantic and to Asia, which are heavily frequented by business travellers, will not return to their former load factors so quickly, as travel behaviour will change permanently, especially in the business customer segment. Since demand for long-haul routes will only pick up again hesitantly, the carriers from the Middle East in particular will suffer, as they essentially maintain a long-haul fleet and only serve this.
As a result of the slump in passenger numbers, airports are currently suffering massively. Medium-sized and smaller airports in particular are having major problems and are facing insolvency.
The Corona crisis has generally changed the mobility behaviour of society. The fear of contagion and the focus on health are important factors in the mobility sector when choosing a means of transport. In major cities worldwide, the number of people using public transport has dropped by 70-90%. Hygienically safe means of transport such as private vehicles or ride-sharing have gained significantly in popularity. However, due to increased remote working and lack of travel (both business and personal), there has also been a decrease in take-up. Only bike-sharing providers were able to increase their revenues in 2020 compared to the previous year. According to a survey by McKinsey, respondents still want to use their bikes or walk more after the crisis. Demand for public transport will increase again, even if not at pre-crisis levels for the time being. Shared micromobility, e-hailing and car-sharing will also gain popularity again. However, the mobility sector cannot assume that everything will return to pre-crisis levels, but will have to consider what the new normal will be on top of the trends that already exist in the sector anyway.
These already existing trends are known as CASE or also ACES: Autonomous Driving, Connectivity, Electrification and Shared Mobility. Vehicles are exchanging more and more data. At the moment, entertainment and practical offers such as digital radio or navigation systems still predominate. But functions in the area of maintenance and safety are also becoming increasingly relevant. The future of the industry also includes the planned "mobility data room". This data is not only an important prerequisite for autonomous driving, but should also enable modern mobility services that better connect buses, trains and cars. Shared mobility includes car-sharing, ride-sharing, ride-hailing, micromobility and micro-transit. Consumers are looking for a practical approach to mobility in order to get from A to B. In this context, owning a private vehicle is increasingly seen as a burden, as convenience and flexibility play an ever greater role. Direct access to various mobility services with simple payment systems offers a good option here. In addition, consumers do not have to make a high initial capital outlay or deal with insurance, maintenance and repairs. However, this trend applies mainly in urban areas. In rural areas, the private vehicle remains the most popular means of transport, as there are no alternatives for economic reasons. Probably the biggest trend and also the one most promoted by politics is electrification, which is considered the future of mobility. In order to achieve the set climate goals, the emission of greenhouse gases is being pushed to a minimum. The focus is on alternative, emission-neutral or low-emission drives.
The automotive industry is increasingly being forced to change by politicians due to new exhaust emission regulations. From 2021, a new target value for new car fleets of 95g CO2 per kilometre will apply, which effectively corresponds to an average consumption of 4.1 litres of petrol or 3.6 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres. In order to achieve the CO2 fleet and sector targets in the long term as well, a significant proportion of the new car fleet will have to be electrified. As a result, there will not only be considerable subsidies (environmental bonuses, innovation bonuses, tax exemptions, etc.) from politicians, but also from the manufacturers themselves for electric or partially electric models. The subsidies and the decided expansion of the charging infrastructure are bearing fruit: car sales fell by around 20% in 2020 compared to the previous year, but car sales for electric and hybrid vehicles boomed.
The delivery period for these models is much longer for all manufacturers than for comparable models with combustion engines. A return to pre-crisis levels is not expected until 2025 and even then the demand for combustion engines is likely to be significantly lower due to the increased share of electric vehicles. Car manufacturers will therefore have to shift their capacities from the traditional combustion car market to the e-car market. This is also reinforced by the fact that in the future the sale of new cars with combustion engines will be prohibited in some countries. VW plans to stop developing combustion engines in 2026, and Mercedes and BMW are setting up their business in such a way that they will also focus on electric drive in the second half of the decade.
As the digitisation of vehicles progresses, manufacturers are expanding their value creation opportunities. Some vehicles are delivered with full equipment and the user can add features such as seat heating, cornering lights, autonomous driving, etc. in the subscription system. This will also have a lasting effect on the used car market, as the range on offer will increase significantly.
The structural change is also making itself felt in the supplier industry. For electric drives, completely new and far fewer and less cost-intensive components are needed. In particular, suppliers who specialise in engine blocks or components for combustion engines will have to adapt their business model in time. In earlier years, the decisive component of a vehicle was the hardware. In future, this will become increasingly trivial and value creation will be massively dependent on software. With subscription models for additional equipment or even completely new offers such as video streaming and shopping, when the vehicles drive autonomously, completely new value creation opportunities will open up. Apple has shown how the sale of apps can continue to earn a lot of money with the software even after the actual sale of the hardware. Here, car manufacturers must be careful not to be left behind by tech companies and degraded to mere suppliers. The mobility of the future is characterised by networking, safety and comfort. Hardware will remain important, but software will be the decisive factor in competition.
In addition to the structural change in the automotive industry, car dealerships also have to contend with the increasing digitisation of trade. Online trade and subscription models are also playing an increasingly relevant role in car buying, which is why the stationary car trade will continue to lose importance. Manufacturers are increasingly taking over the new car fleet business themselves and the used car trade is also more and more taking place on online platforms. The pace of change in the car trade varies from region to region. In urban areas, dealers will increasingly form alliances and try to establish themselves under their own brand both online and offline as a manufacturer-independent supplier of various brands.
Customers can then compare products and prices in so-called megastores. The appearance as agents of manufacturers, who take over tasks such as test drives or vehicle handovers as part of direct sales, will also be more common in the future. It is important to focus on selective points of interaction with customers to increase customer satisfaction and improve the customer experience. In rural areas, the change will be much slower. This is due to the low mobility density and the lower real estate and rental prices of car dealerships. Here, too, there will be a shift towards multi-brand dealerships, yet the dealer network will thin out due to a lack of attractiveness. As more and more people – especially in urban areas – do without their own car due to a wide range of mobility options, car dealerships should evolve from new and used car sales to mobility sales. Many dealers will take up new business models such as their own car-sharing offers or subscription models. Increasing consolidation is taking place and it is expected that up to 50% of dealers will have disappeared from the market by 2025.
In order to anchor a new long-term goal of greenhouse gas neutrality in Germany before the year 2050, the amendment to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) came into force on 01 January 2021. The share of renewable energies is planned to reach 65% by 2030. From this causality, transmission system operators expect an expansion of renewable energies by 5 GW and thus an increase in electricity products. In addition, European emissions trading will enter its fourth phase. In order to be able to implement the energy turnaround, grid expansion must continue. For years there has been resistance to the construction of the necessary power lines. Another issue that will preoccupy the energy industry in the coming year is the completion of the German-Russian Baltic Sea gas pipeline Nord Stream 2. The US government attempts to prevent the completion of the gas pipeline.
Pharmaceuticals and chemistry
The search for suitable vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and their distribution will continue to be the focus in 2021. Since 21 December 2020, the vaccine from Biontech and Pfizer, and since 06 January 2021, the vaccine from Moderna, have been officially licensed in the EU. Some companies have already announced that they will expand their production capacities for a Corona vaccine in order to enable a nationwide supply as quickly as possible. However, not only companies involved in the production of the vaccine will benefit from the pandemic, but all those offering Corona-related products such as rapid tests or disinfectants will continue to see rising sales.
Megatrends digitisation and sustainability
It is clear that digitisation and sustainability continue to be megatrends in all areas. The crisis has only emphasised the processes and importance of these topics even more. On average, digitised companies came through the crisis better and were able to adapt more quickly to the new circumstances. The standstill or severe shutdown of some production and traffic has shown how quickly air quality has recovered due to lower emissions of pollutants.
The issue of sustainability has become increasingly important in recent years under the banner of neo-ecology. Younger society, in particular, is placing more emphasis on sustainable and resource-efficient products for environmental conservation and mitigation of climate change. For example, due to the increasing pollution of the world's oceans and landscapes by non-biodegradable materials, there will be an EU-wide ban on certain single-use plastic products from 3 July 2021. These include cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, beverage cups and food containers made of polystyrene. It also strongly promotes the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and thus the achievement of the global sustainability goals of the Paris Climate Agreement by 2030.
Digitisation has gained further importance in the context of the Corona crisis. The defining theme for 2021, resilience, is found in an accelerated change of many processes. Cloud computing enables location-independent working and is in greater demand than before. The use of artificial intelligence and the advancing automation of manufacturing work, especially in Industry 4.0, are intended to make processes more efficient, less prone to error and more cost-effective. Quite a few professions will no longer be needed in the course of digitisation. According to calculations by the OECD, just under 20% of jobs in Germany were already at risk in 2019 due to increasing automation.
Digitisation is only one of the reasons why the technology sector emerges as a clear winner of the Corona crisis. Companies will continue to upgrade their IT in the future to enable location-independent working and to be able to react better to such situations. In addition, demand for augmented and virtual reality, e-games, e-sports and e-commerce is booming. This means that technology companies such as Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft can count themselves among the biggest winners.
The pharmaceutical industry can also be counted among the winners of the crisis. It has already shown a high level of resilience to economic challenges in previous crises, partly due to the fact that it can diversify well across its sub-sectors.
The clear losers, on the other hand, are all the sectors that were affected by the lockdowns and public restrictions. These include bricks-and-mortar retail, tourism, hospitality, trade fairs as well as event organisers. Temporary closures or restricted operations due to prescribed hygiene measures have led to significant losses in turnover.
In the long term, Germany will continue to face declining productivity growth. Factors such as increasing digitisation, demographic change and climatic structural changes will prompt new business models and production processes that will lead to profound changes in the economic structure and labour market. The German economy must accept these challenges and turn them into opportunities.
SanInsFoG and StaRUG
The Covid 19 pandemic continues to affect our daily lives and is leading to the worst economic crisis in years. In order to counteract this, various support and emergency aid measures have been initiated by the political sector. Nevertheless, according to current surveys, many experts expect the number of corporate restructurings and insolvencies to increase in the near future.
In order to provide further support for companies in the current phase and to avert possible future insolvency, the "Gesetz zur Fortentwicklung des Sanierungs- und Insolvenzrechts" (SanInsFoG) is currently being introduced. The draft law had its first reading in the Bundestag on 18 November 2020 and will be discussed in the Legal Affairs Committee on 25 November 2020. It is planned to be introduced on 1 January 2021, even though in the meantime voices from the world of politics have come to regard 1 April 2021 as a more realistic date for parts of the very extensive law.
What is the core of SanInsFoG?
A key focus is the view on the sustainability of liabilities. Many companies that have, for example, received special loans from the development banks may have to deal with restructuring the liabilities side in the next few years, as the business model after the Covid 19 pandemic, unlike expected, cannot enable full debt service capability.
There are two key elements to this:
- The obligation to file for insolvency due to over-indebtedness is suspended until the end of December 2020 if it results from the Covid 19 pandemic. With the reinstatement of the obligation to file for insolvency on 1 January 2021 - the obligation to file for insolvency has already been in effect again since 1 October 2020 - there will be an easing of the requirement for a survival prognosis: The liquidity forecast period is to be only twelve months or four months in the event of a decline in sales of > 40% in 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
- On the other hand, the personal liability of managing directors or board members before they become insolvent will be significantly tightened. In future, companies will have to be fully financed for the next 24 months in order to protect the interests of the creditor community. If a financing gap is not recognised in time or if restructuring measures do not take effect as hoped afterwards, the managing director will be personally liable. Managing directors must therefore deal with their options for action at an early stage in the event of imminent insolvency.
How must management / board of directors react in future?
On the one hand, the organs of the company must ensure the complete financing as soon as the law is in effect. Therefore, the establishment of a meaningful liquidity plan for the current and the two following financial years is already required at the latest now, as the next 24 months must be monitored continuously. If this results in liquidity gaps due to increasing demand or expiring financing, there is an obligation to find a solution in the interests of the creditors - thus at most on an equal footing with the shareholders. Transparency in the form of a three-year plan, the development of financing solutions and communication with the financiers and, if applicable, the other creditors become indispensable and relevant to liability.
On the other hand, the SanInsFoG also includes the new Corporate Stabilisation and Restructuring Act (StaRUG), which implements the preventive restructuring framework required by the EU into national law. This provides companies which basically have a functioning business model with a new instrument for restructuring. Without the stigma of insolvency, (balance sheet) restructuring can be carried out in the context of majority formation. In addition to the termination of contractual relationships and the overruling of individual creditors who are unwilling to restructure, other measures will also be possible in the future, which can currently only be used in the context of insolvency proceedings.
Further information on the contents of the SanInsFoG as well as the planned innovations of the StaRUG can be found here in our special chapter on this topic (only availble in German).
Video tutorial: Strategic to-dos for the automotive industry
Far-reaching and structural changes await the automobile trade and it is now up to the managing director to lead the company safely through the crisis. Jens Sickendieck, restructuring and reorganisation consultant at comes, shows which areas of action and stumbling blocks are involved.
At AUTOHAUS next he will highlight both the most important to-dos in strategic positioning and how to secure financial strength. In the video course you can learn about the importance of an integrated financial plan and what you must not forget.
Further information on the video course
Additional support for our Hamburg team
Steffen Völkel started in October as a senior consultant in the Hamburg office.
Following his MBA and Master of Finance degree in the USA, he worked for almost four years as a controller for a well-known automotive supplier.
Steffen Völkel will focus on restructuring and planning/consolidation.
Helen Ewerding has been supporting the comes team as an analyst at the Hamburg office since September this year.
During her interdisciplinary studies in Fashion and Design Management, Ms Ewerding has already completed an internship with a well-known Hamburg retail chain.
Since the beginning of October, Tade Hansen has been part of the Hamburg team as an analyst.
In the summer he successfully completed his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at the WWU Münster. Prior to his studies, he was able to gain some work experience in the automotive industry in the form of a commercial apprenticeship. Tade Hansen also completed an internship abroad in the USA in this field.
comes Team Event 2020
The day was started by all employees with a major jour fixe at the Gastwerk hotel. With due distance to each other, the colleagues of all branches met again personally after a long time to work together.
In the afternoon, everyone got together in small groups to prove themselves at "Escape the City". In the game, various puzzles had to be solved, codes cracked and contact persons found. Hamburg-Bahrenfeld served as an open-air escape room.
Afterwards we ended the day with a big BBQ and great conversations on the presumably last warm summer evening of Hamburg.
An all-round successful day!
Successful charity event
In the course of the charity party of the Tuesbrassers in Oldenburg, which has been a recurring event for a few years now, all proceeds are donated to a specific purpose. This year, 2,500 € were collected from entrance fees and private donations. These were handed over to the association "pro liberis", which supports children and young people, some of whom have been severely traumatised. The money is to be used to repair a construction wagon on an adventure site so that the children and young people have a place of retreat there.
In the picture (from left): Uwe Brake (MK Siemer Tortechnik), Imme Helpertz (pro liberis), Dr. Bernhard Becker (comes Unternehmensberatung), Heike Gunske (pro liberis) and Josef Kempen (The Tuesbrassers). The picture was taken before the Corona crisis.
Understanding the crisis as an opportunity - how the car trade can actively shape structural change
Can the automotive industry be reinterpreted?
Individual mobility means freedom, which every person is entitled to and must be made accessible. It must be the claim of both politics and the mobility industry - car, air and rail transport and all other mobility providers alike - to protect this freedom for those who already have it, to open it up to those who wish or need it, and to secure it for future generations.The automobile trade in Germany has been in crisis for a long time: firstly, a lot of trust was lost among the public and customers due to the Diesel scandal. Germany's former showpiece industry had lost its sympathy bonus practically overnight. After that, ongoing discussions about CO2 limits, possible driving bans in city centres and a widely announced (but so far missing) turn towards electric mobility have led to uncertainty among consumers. Postponed vehicle purchases and the resulting drop in sales figures caused the already narrow margins in the retail sector to crumble further - fuelled not least by the increasing competition from online brokers and independent leasing companies. The business is in a dangerous downward spiral: in order to achieve bonuses or target premiums, ever larger quantities must be marketed. In the process, inventories are constantly being increased and liquidity is being used to the maximum. This increases the susceptibility of companies to crises. As soon as the market weakens only slightly, stocks have to be reduced and vehicles sold - at all costs. On the stock exchange, this phenomenon is called "margin call" - the point in time when everyone has to sell in order to maintain their minimum margin and from then on prices know only one way - downwards.
The young groups of buyers are breaking away because the purpose of this type of mobility is no longer understood. Especially in the cities, more and more people are abandoning their own cars and using an individual mix of car sharing, ride-ailing buses and trains, rental bikes or e-scooters. The own car becomes a burden here: the purchase of a new car is hardly worthwhile for private individuals, because the decline in value is enormous. In addition, the costs of keeping the car are also a burden. The cost-benefit ratio is becoming increasingly unbalanced. Anyone who has recently been looking for a parking space in the city centres also understands the annoyance that driving a car in the city regularly causes.
Driving less does not mean that people are less mobile. On the contrary: the number of kilometres travelled per person has risen steadily in recent years. This trend will continue in the coming years. Mobility service providers are successful if they are technologically up-to-date, ecologically sustainable and affordable, in ride sharing, on-demand mobility services or the purchase of a family car. The winners are those who know best how to bundle mobility services in ecologically implemented business processes. The driving force becomes secondary. What counts will be the demonstrably sustainable implementation of the easiest to acquire and most attractively priced offer on the respective market.
For the automobile trade, this means developing from a seller of new and used cars to a distributor of mobility. In 2025, successful suppliers will no longer measure themselves solely by the number of vehicles sold, but also by their profit per passenger kilometre - for most of them a completely new concept. The car of the future is a vehicle on demand that drives independently to where it is needed.
The car trade must reinvent itself
It is necessary to break down the wall between the online and offline business in the automobile trade and to link both distribution channels. The physical touchpoint of the car dealership brings the brand experience to the point. However, new concepts are becoming more relevant for an omnichannel dealership, creativity and variety is required: a pop-up store, a shop-in-shop, an outdoor showroom or a mobility shop, in which different mobility offers are available. The car trade is expected to be imaginative, which is usually lacking. Imaginative dealers such as Autohaus König from Berlin, which has been offering its Fiat 500 models via the electrical retailer Media Markt since 8 June, are a rarity.
This example illustrates two fundamental problems of the car trade: the difficulty of gaining access to customers shaped by the digital shopping culture, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the difficulty of designing the buying process as a stimulating customer journey, which links the online channels (currently still primarily used in the information phase) and the offline channels (such as test drive, sales talk or the service appointment agreement) consistently and optimally. Data glasses, virtual showrooms and / or video consultations do not fill the car dealerships, but generate attention and drive the comfortable customer off the couch. These offers should have long since become part of the standard repertoire of the dealerships. The challenge is to see digitization as a holistic strategy for the entire company and not just as a collection of individual measures. A future business model should therefore answer the question of which sales channels will still exist tomorrow and which new digital channels the company can use to offer its products and services. In practice, however, there are still too few car dealership entrepreneurs asking these questions. The reason is often a generational issue: the active management team often comes from an old industrial world in which the manufacturer sent off the assembly line what the trade should sell. In the new, digital world, however, it is the customer who determines what he buys when / where / from whom.
Already today, various brands are pushing network consolidation and trying to reduce the number of their partner retailers. In urban areas, new formats will gradually replace the classic car dealership. As margins continue to shrink, car dealerships will merge in order to benefit from economies of scale on the one hand and to be able to raise the necessary financial resources for investments in the future on the other. These dealer alliances will increasingly try to build up their own brand, establish it online and offline as platforms and become more independent from the manufacturers as suppliers of different brands. In this way, car dealers are resembling supermarkets, a business dominated by a few giants.
In so-called megastores, new car customers can compare products and prices across brands. In this way, they find the transparency they are used to from the digital world in one physical location. The difference to the Internet: Megastores and brand boutiques always score points with high-quality advice, which will be highly relevant at least in the medium term for a product that is becoming increasingly sophisticated in terms of technology (especially in man-machine communication). So much for the theory.
Entrepreneurs must act now
The Corona crisis reveals another problem of low reserves: car dealerships across Germany had to close their salesrooms for several weeks. According to a survey by the ZDK, about 70% of the businesses had registered for short-time work in the meantime. For sales staff, the proportion was even 90%. The primary goal was: to secure liquidity at all costs. Nevertheless, most companies simply lacked the financial basis to be able to compensate for longer sales shortfalls with their own resources. In the past year, the average return in the industry was just 1.4% – too little in an environment of high investment and capital requirements to build up sufficient equity capital for emergencies. As a result, many companies are not in a position to build up a stable equity ratio of at least 25% and are consequently too heavily dependent on lenders. If even one bank calls in the loans, this means the end for many companies.
However, the large remainder below the TOP 10 trade groups must ask themselves the question of how to proceed after Corona. The current crisis should be seen as an opportunity to relentlessly analyse one's own situation and to set the necessary course for the future. All important stakeholders should be involved: this includes owners/partners, the management and the most important investors. Only if all those involved pull together can a sustainable solution be achieved.
The options available for action are as varied as the individual company situations; there is no single patent remedy for all of them. Nevertheless, five strategic initiatives can be identified, with the help of which car dealership entrepreneurs should start today so as not to miss the connection to tomorrow:
Create awareness for change: Herbert Diess works according to the motto "Think from the customer's perspective! It is my company! Highest standards for me and my employees! Achieving impact! Concentration on the essential! Achieve more with less means! Rethink and simplify! Backbone, courage and endurance! Being sincere! Think positive!"
The upcoming transformation will lead to profound changes in terms of work forms, organizational structures and business models. The first essential step is to become aware of this and to be open for change. This is especially true for the company management – in the second step, they must then prepare the entire company and all employees for the change and take them on board. Many traditional managers are not familiar with this form of change management – it is too different from what they were used to in the past. At this point, a change manager or coach from outside can help to train and support managers in dealing with the new challenge.
Check strategic positioning: Margins in the automotive trade will continue to be put under pressure. At the same time, high investments in digitization, infrastructure and employees are necessary to keep up with the pace. Every company should question its individual strengths and weaknesses and derive its development opportunities and possible business risks from them. When defining a strategy, it is essential not to think too narrowly, but to be as open as possible to reinterpret one's own role. For example, one could determine that there is a great demand for motorhomes in a market area or that companies are interested in closed Car-Sharing pools and are looking for a service partner with roots in the region. Neither of these issues are part of the original car dealership business, but they can be addressed with the existing expertise.
Guarantee future viability: Change does not happen immediately, but is a long road. However, in order to achieve the goal tomorrow, all performance-related processes must be put to the test and optimized in the here and now (operational excellence). This also includes an assessment of your own organization and management structure: Are the right people on board to initiate and shape the change? If not, shareholders and management must initiate measures to get the right people on board. If necessary, the help of experienced interim managers who are familiar with crisis situations is needed. Within a short period of time, they can convey the necessary urgency of the situation to the crew and ensure that the required measures are implemented.
Secure financing power: In addition to cost discipline and efficiency improvements, adequate capital resources are just as important as a balanced capital structure. Here it is important to analyse in detail how the company's liabilities are structured and whether the maturities and, not least, the conditions of the individual financing arrangements match (matching maturities). This should be organised together with banks and financing partners. For this purpose, however, it is first necessary to define one's own strategic direction in the form of a resilient business plan. The business plan should cover a time horizon of five years and contain various scenarios as well as an integrated planning calculation consisting of balance sheet, profit and loss account and liquidity and cash flow planning.
Actively shape the future: There are numerous reasons why no long-term sustainable concept can be achieved: despite adjustments, the company's own market position no longer appears competitive, no sufficient financing can be secured for the necessary investments in the new business model, or the shareholders no longer want to go down this path. In all these cases, it is important to actively consider various alternatives in order to maintain the value of the company in the best possible way: these can be mergers or acquisitions with competitors, extended cooperations or even the initiation of a structured succession process up to the sale of the company.
Mastering the upheaval in the car trade requires a willingness to innovate, the courage to act entrepreneurially, but also analytical skills and a certain objectivity in the face of facts. It is therefore advisable to work out your strategic re-orientation together with a neutral consultant who is not involved in the operational structures and who can provide an undistorted view of the company with its strengths and weaknesses. This will ensure that a comprehensive analysis is carried out which both meets the individual demands and requirements of the car dealership / car group and takes into account the changing market conditions.
Effects of Corona-related shutdowns - a case study
Many companies are currently affected by a shutdown due to the COVID 19 pandemic. This has far-reaching consequences for the success, liquidity and balance sheet of the affected companies. The situation is particularly dramatic for companies in difficulties.
In their case study, which was recently published in KSI 04/2020, our colleagues Dr. Jan Handzlik and Dr. Bernhard Becker together with Prof. Dr. Müller from Helmut Schmidt University in Hamburg specifically address this problem. By means of specific calculation examples, the effects of a shutdown are presented, taking into account existing state support measures, and recommendations for action are derived from these.
Please klick here to download the article as a pdf file.
comes is TOP CONSULTANT
comes is one of the best consulting companies in the area of medium-sized businesses in Germany - this was determined by the TOP CONSULTANT comparison. The award is based on a scientifically founded customer survey. In the context of this year's award ceremony, which was held virtually due to the Corona pandemic, former Federal President Christian Wulff congratulated our partner Konrad Martin on this success.
Professionalism, competence and, of course, satisfied customers are among the decisive factors for the award of the TOP CONSULTANT quality seal.
Since 2010, the competition has been organised by compamedia and has since served as a reliable guide for medium-sized companies in the confusing consultancy market.
Which companies are awarded the TOP CONSULTANT seal is decided by the Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft für Management und Beratung (WGMB) in Bonn. The results of the surveyed reference customers of the participating consulting companies are evaluated with further company data and are included in the rating (further information on the test criteria can be found at www.top-consultant.de/pruefkriterien). Thus, those companies could be filtered out who know that consulting oriented towards medium-sized businesses requires a sense of proportion and perspective - and who have proven to practice this!
The award as TOP CONSULTANT, which is based on the anonymous feedback from 14 customers last year, once again impressively confirms the consistent focus of comes on highest professionalism, competence and highest customer satisfaction and thus a high recommendation rate. We are pleased that this has been successful against the background of the particularly demanding consulting environment of restructuring and insolvency support.
We would like to thank our employees for their extraordinary commitment and our customers for the trust they have placed in us!
Selected feedback from our customers:
- Professional knowledge, very pleasant contact with customers, very high availability
- Available at any time, not arrogant, very open-minded, always an "open ear", always available with "advice and action
- Competent, solution-oriented, friendly, it is fun to work with intelligent consultants
- Quick perception, top network especially in crisis situations and humanity
- The open ear and professionalism to find answers to complex questions
comes team keeps growing
Maria Husemann joined the comes team in Berlin as a senior consultant in April.
After completing her Master of Laws (LL.M.) at the University of Applied Sciences in Nürtingen-Geislingen, she worked for several years as an insolvency administrator in two well-known Hamburg law firms.
Maria Husemann will focus on the areas of procedural support and restructuring.
Also since April Dennis Hoormann is part of the comes team in Bremen as a consultant.
Following his master's degree in Corporate Development at the University of Applied Sciences in Hanover, he completed an internship in the field of in-house consulting at a major Hamburg retail chain.
Dennis Hoormann will support comes primarily in the areas of financing and restructuring.
Further support for the Hamburg location
Since the beginning of the year Jens Sickendieck has been supporting the comes team at the Hamburg location as a Senior Manager. He will focus on the automotive sector and there on the automotive trade and will accompany our clients in the areas of restructuring, strategy / management and succession planning.
Jens Sickendieck has many years of experience in the automotive sector. After several years in reorganisation and restructuring consulting, he also held operational management positions in group companies.
Svenja Hürzeler joined the comes team as a consultant at the Hamburg office in mid-January.
In addition to her master's degree with a focus on restructuring and reorganisation and a final master's thesis in the preparation of an independent business review for a Munich-based company, Svenja Hürzeler worked as a manager at the Hürzeler/Zuhr Academy.
After a turbulent 2019, we are looking towards to the new decade with great anticipation. We expect changes in society, economy and politics.
The coming 20s will be dominated by neo-ecology. Will it be possible to reduce the ecological footprint, halt climate change and live sustainably? Technological progress is firmly interwoven with this megatrend: e-mobility, artificial intelligence (AI) and new medical findings enable us to live longer, healthier and more comfortable lives.
Climate change, environmental protection and sustainability dominate business and politics. Environmental awareness has gained in importance in all social classes and will continue to grow. It is reshaping our understanding of society. New synergies between environment and health are emerging, leading us to see environmental protection as a new task for our community. These social changes are also transforming the logic of brands, marketing and markets. Climate protection and sustainability serve not only to preserve our planet, but also as a marketing strategy or as a whole market for services and products.
Sustainability is in demand. More and more companies are using the potential of this transformation and are repositioning themselves. They are dispensing with plastic packaging and using paper packaging instead. In this way, manufacturers are sending a clear signal in the fight against plastic and at the same time improving their own image. On the other hand, this has resulted in massive sales losses in the plastics industry. Furthermore, the increasing environmental awareness in the population has an impact on personal mobility in addition to consumption, forcing companies and entire industries to reposition themselves.
But it is not only on the customer side that a sustainable orientation proves to be profitable. A culture of innovation promotes the opportunities for competitiveness and future viability. If sustainability and corporate responsibility become part of the corporate culture, this creates employee satisfaction and a competitive advantage in the battle for skilled workers on the labor market. Sustainability is playing an increasingly important role, especially in technological industries that rely on young talent.
In the 1920s, the topics of digitization and industry 4.0, AI, as well as block chain and big data analytics, will also have a formative influence on the companies that have to deal with them. Automation and process optimisation continue to be the focus of attention for the majority of companies. In addition to networking, AI is becoming increasingly important in transformation. Companies can increase efficiency through robots, chatbots and voice systems.
The block chain will continue to increase in importance. A block chain is a decentralised database, i.e. distributed on different computers, which documents digital transactions and allows entries (chronologically and chained in blocks) to be viewed like a book. Block chains cannot be manipulated and are therefore considered a secure transaction system for the exchange of information. Traceability, consistency and speed are the advantages of block chain. But especially transparency and security are the drivers to deal with block chain in times of increasing cybercrime.
2019 was a successful year for the real estate and construction industries. The central bank's cheap money ensures that the boom will continue in 2020. However, the real estate market also poses a threat. Bundesbank Vice-President Claudia Buch warns that real estate in German cities is already overvalued by 15-30%. Since more than 50% of all loans to private households are housing loans, the real estate market could trigger a banking crisis. Because prices are expected to continue to rise, banks are relaxing credit standards. Although a credit-driven speculative dynamic is not yet foreseeable, a continuation of the zero and negative interest rate policy increases the probability of a bubble. A collapse of real estate prices and a concomitant devaluation of loan collateral on the books of banks would be the consequence. The bank liquidation fund would quickly be overstretched and the banking sector of the entire euro zone could start to totter.
The real estate boom and rising spending on infrastructure give the construction industry reason to be optimistic about the future. The presidents of the Federation of the German Construction Industry (HDB), Peter Hübner, and the Central Association of the German Construction Industry (ZDB), Reinhard Quast, are extremely positive about 2020: "All in all, we expect turnover in the construction industry to grow by 5.5% to EUR 145 billion in 2020."
While the logistics industry continues to see growing potential in the construction and consumer goods sectors, stagnation or declining demand from the automotive and chemical industries is making itself clearly felt according to the German Logistics Association (BVL). In addition, the logistics sector is also feeling the first signs of a decline in trade with China. Logistics continues to rely on foreign trade. Here, BVL expects cross-border volumes to continue to rise. BVL remains fundamentally unimpressed by trade conflicts and Brexit negotiations for 2020. Instead, it is relying on growing relations with Eastern Europe.
The German automotive industry, which appears to have already lost touch with the rest of the world, is facing major challenges. The establishment of the additional Tesla Giga-Factory will continue to strengthen Germany as an automotive location for the time being. The technological change in the automotive sector has initially hit the supplier industry harder and will lead to further consolidation in the years to come.
The topic of mobility will continue to be a determining factor in 2020. The automotive industry is in crisis and under pressure to transform, not least because of the new demands for mobility made by consumers. Autonomous driving in particular, in addition to the question of drive systems, will occupy car manufacturers in the coming years. The necessary software is already available, but the biggest hurdle here is politics.
Transportation should be environmentally friendly, i.e. as CO2-neutral as possible. Sustainability, individuality and an optimised cost position are becoming increasingly important for most customer groups. The Federal Government is constantly working out measures to reposition Germany in the field of mobility. Rail passenger transport is to be strengthened by reducing taxes on rail travel from 19% to 7%, with a corresponding reduction in ticket prices and an expansion of rail routes. In addition, the attractiveness of public transport is to be increased, for example through free use.
In addition to traditional means of transport, new offers such as bicycle rental services or shuttle services must also be included in the future plans for our mobility. Under the criteria that these means of transport are permanently available and have a clear advantage over using one's own car or a taxi from a cost and environmental point of view, alternative mobility solutions are becoming increasingly popular. "Ride-pooling" providers such as CleverShuttle or Moia not only offer a more cost-effective service, but also, in conjunction with public transport, innovative solutions for transport networking in urban areas. Car-sharing offers such as SHARE Now are losing their appeal and will already be reduced this year by the operators Daimler and BMW. The car manufacturers seem to be returning to their core business and are fine-tuning promising solutions in the field of e-mobility. Some changes are also imminent in air traffic in 2020. While sales of domestic flights are declining sharply, Airbus is working on the development of the "CityAirbus", which is scheduled to start flight operations this year. The electric-powered air taxi, which resembles a helicopter, is initially to be used for local transport, but could already become the environmentally friendly alternative for domestic air travel in the coming years.
The faltering global economy, trade conflicts and structural change in the automotive industry are casting their shadows on mechanical engineering and causing uneven developments in the sector, which is dominated by SMEs. For 2020, the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) expects a further decline in machine production of 2%. However, this will not affect all sectors, as demand among mechanical and plant engineering companies, which primarily supply process industries and construction companies, remains very high. According to VDMA boss Carl Martin Welcker, the situation is tense for the traditional industrial equipment suppliers, who are particularly strongly represented.
But the crisis has also reached the chemical industry. Besides a fluctuating economic environment, the growing challenges in sustainability and climate protection are certainly the main reasons.
The plastics industry is one of the "victims" of climate protection and the automotive crisis. It is therefore exposed to two problems at once. On the one hand, there are the car manufacturers, who are among the most important customers of plastic products. On the other hand there is the en vogue topic of environmental protection, which will also lead to a process of change in the plastics industry. New draft laws on disposable plastic articles make it even more difficult for plastic manufacturers. The trend towards more sustainability and resource protection will lead to a decline in the industry in 2020. In addition, the idea of taxing plastic packaging, which is still in the political arena, and the stricter legal requirements to promote recycling are also causing uncertainty.
Meanwhile, the energy sector suffers from a lack of solutions and an inadequate infrastructure for a successful energy turnaround. From 2021 onwards, the CO2 price (25 €/t CO2) will not only increase prices at filling stations, but electricity and gas prices are also expected to rise. Concerns about competitiveness go hand in hand with the introduction of these additional costs, especially for SMEs. However, Germany has long since not been prepared for the energy turnaround in terms of infrastructure. A forecast by the Energy Economics Institute of the University of Cologne (EWI) says that Germany's electricity consumption will rise by 25% within the next decade. According to the current status and probably also in the next 10 years, the increased demand for electricity will not be fully covered by renewable energies, which currently account for just 43% of the current energy supply in Germany. We will therefore remain dependent on gas supplies from Russia. Germany is still in a quandary when it comes to the energy turnaround.
Political discussions will continue to be a major source of uncertainty in 2020. A slowly growing global economy, continuing protectionism, the Brexit negotiations in Great Britain and new elections in the USA: In addition to these uncertainties, the increasing tensions in the Middle East will also have a considerable influence on the capital markets and the development of the oil price, which will continue to be subject to fluctuations in 2020. As an export nation, Germany is particularly vulnerable because no other country has more trading partners and is thus dependent on global world trade. If customs duties on European cars are actually imposed, not only the automotive industry but the entire German economy will fly off the rails.
All in all, the German economy will continue to grow in the coming year thanks to isolated robust sectors and private consumption as the mainstay of the economy, which accounts for around 52% of economic output. However, solutions are needed as quickly as possible to master the growing challenges and to be able to react quickly to innovations, change processes and industry shifts. Due to the demographic development, a relapse into mass unemployment as in previous crises is not to be expected, as companies will do their utmost to retain their workforce so that a veritable crisis in the labour market is not in sight.
Discount battle on Black Friday and Cyber Monday - consequences of the price war for the retail trade
Whether online or in the stationary trade: the American trend of discount shopping for the traditional Thanksgiving celebration has long since conquered Europe and thus also Germany. We are talking about Black Friday and the following Cyber Monday, the shopping days with the highest turnover in German retail. The Handelsverband Deutschland (HDE) forecasts a new record turnover of € 3.1 billion. This is equivalent to a sales growth of 22%.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Singles Day, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Easter, Christmas – the buyer quickly loses the overview in the discount rain. It's a psychological game with the customer. Discounts have a verifiable effect on the brain and thus on the customer's decision to buy. But discounts do not only have positive effects. The radical discounting of goods at certain predictable points in time has an effect on the customer's buying behaviour: the bargain hunter and the cheapskate wait exactly for this recurring discount, in order to access it quickly and withdraw again for the rest of the year.
The regular customer, on the other hand, doubts the credibility or the quality of the dealers due to the strongly fluctuating prices or even feels cheated.
Traders who encounter campaigns like Black Friday without a good pricing strategy can only lose.
On today's Black Friday, buyers will again be lured with great discounts: Buyers supposedly save up to 90% on Black Friday. Dealer giants such as Amazon or Zalando have been advertising with particularly low prices since the beginning of the week. The customer rubs his hands and is in the starting blocks – ready to make as many good deals as possible. But the decisive factor is not the high turnover, but the profit. Dealers face a problem: if they don't offer discounts or don't keep up with competitors' discounts, they lose their customers and the corresponding turnover to the competition. Those who do not calculate their discounts well in the fight for the best deals, however, lose not only in the Christmas business, but also their profit margin due to too low prices. The success of a discount campaign for the retailer therefore depends on a good pricing strategy. From an economic point of view, therefore, providing an entire assortment with a blanket discount is the most unwise strategic move – unless the strategy envisages raising prices beforehand and offering "sham discounts" that deceive the customers. Here the dealer must ask himself which philosophy he represents and what value the customer's trust has for him. The danger of lasting damage to the company is probably as great as the chance of success. The question arises as to the development of these discount days. Where is the discount battle to go? How will stationary retailers in particular deal with the cost pressure?
Singles Day in China sets the example: instead of advertising with ever larger discounts, THE Shopping Day of the Year is staged as an event that conveys a message: Dear Singles, give yourselves a present. Customers automatically associate a special experience with this day. Especially via television they are emotionally picked up and animated to buy, similar to teleshopping. Although promotional prices are also used here, they apparently play a secondary role.
The German retail trade should also explore similar strategies and create an emotional link to the experience that goes beyond discounts. These stimuli make the shopping experience individual and the visit to the store attractive, can significantly influence the customer experience and contribute to the positive shopping experience and thus to customer loyalty.
The increasing importance of strategic versus operational leadership
Organizations and individuals - we are all confronted with the effects of the digital revolution. We enjoy positive effects and opportunities, but how do we deal with the challenges and what are the drivers for successful change in companies?
A look at nature shows that a successful strategy in dealing with radical change involves a healthy mixture of resistance and adaptation. Adapting the corporate strategy both internally and externally thus becomes an elementary task for managers. They become pioneers and designers for leadership, process and relationship quality. Resilience plays an important role here. But how do you adapt a corporate strategy that includes structures which promote resilience?
Talcott Parsons' AGIL scheme can support you in this:
A - "Adaptation": reacting quickly and efficiently to changes
G - "GoalAttainment": in spite of flexible ways not losing sight of the goals and measuring their achievement
I - "Integration": integrating new developments into business models and processes
L - "Latent Pattern Maintenance": Living Trial & Error
Our author, Dr. Bernhard Becker, together with Silvia Braumandl, Christian Jacobs and Verena Riedinger, has published an article on this subject in the Zeitschrift für Corporate Governance (04.19). It can be downloaded here.
Staff excursion 2019
A review of our employee trip to Papenburg on the last weekend of October: It got really hot at comes. And that doesn't refer to the weather, but our tyre temperatures. Because on the test tracks of Automotive Testing Papenburg (ATP) we really put the pedal to the metal. On Saturday, Meyer Werft left a lasting impression.
This year's trip started with a Jour fixe. In addition to new tools, the focus was on current legal issues relating to restructuring. We ended the JF with a case study. Afterwards we started off our actual excursion in a cosy bar in Papenburg.
Friday was really exciting. All day long we were able to put our vehicles, but above all ourselves, to the test on ATP's tracks. How long is the braking distance during an emergency stop with aquaplaning or even on ice? What is it like to drift around bends on wet roads? How does my vehicle behave when the wheels drive on different road conditions? How does my reaction time and motor function change when I am distracted? And how do I get out of my car when it has overturned? We were able to find out the answers to all these questions ourselves, and in the process we produced a lot of adrenaline.
After "fast" on Friday it became big and impressive on Saturday: our destination was the Meyer shipyard in Papenburg. During the factory tour we could first dive into the history of the shipyard and then marvel at the cruise giants under construction. It was impressive to see how the huge cruise ships are built, which have as many leisure possibilities and space to offer as a small town.
This trip will remain in our memory. But we are already looking forward to what awaits us next year!
Financial partners must rethink in times of climate change
The topic determines the width of the current media landscape. Many economic participants are concerned with the consequences for their companies. Investment decisions are not always made solely with a view to increasing profits or optimising returns.
First enterprises are ready to do without a part of profits in order to make production procedures or products greener.
In Germany, where for decades the implementation of investment measures has been characterised by a high level of involvement of external funds, not only the companies but also the currently crisis-ridden banks and savings banks play a decisive role in the implementation of investments.
The relevant systems of credit institutions, however, essentially focus on the return and equity ratios of past years when assessing a company.
The conscious decision to forego returns in order to produce in an environmentally conscious and resource-conserving manner can lead to discussions with lenders in individual cases, as long as return ratios and thus ultimately equity development are affected.
Well off are the companies that, following these trends, can also afford to limit their returns. Broadly speaking, however, it will also depend on the understanding of financial partners and the responsible use of rating systems to achieve sustainable improvements in the emission of climate-damaging emissions by companies.
comes keeps growing
Since September, Ms. Frohberg has been working in the marketing, university marketing and events department at the Oldenburg location. This includes in particular the online presence of comes in the social media as well as the cross-location coordination and organisation of events organised by comes. She is also involved in our joint venture partner Hase & Igel.
Previously, Ms. Frohberg worked as a Junior Marketing and Sales Manager in the sports industry.
In October this year, Mr. Geppert joined our Hamburg location as a consultant for the areas of restructuring and insolvency management.
During his previous activities as treasury manager at various medium-sized companies, his areas of responsibility included liquidity planning, risk management and reporting.
Since October 2019, Mr. Kriest has been supporting the Berlin office in digitization issues in the area of "Shaping Success".
Prior to this, he worked parallel to an interdisciplinary course of studies, primarily in the practical implementation of solutions in the areas of digital collaboration and new work.
Why you should take advantage of a Financial Performance Management Software for your company
As an entrepreneur, you need reliable figures on which to base your business planning and strategic decisions. The complex Excel spreadsheets you keep for this are often error-prone and confusing. In addition, it takes a lot of time and money to keep all tables up to date.
Through an integrated and independently applicable Financial Performance Management Software solution, which enables your company to recognize its own growth potential at a glance and to manage the financial controlling, the processes in your company are accelerated, while at the same time fewer errors can occur. Possible sources of error in the database are identified early on, so that only validated figures are reported. This creates the basis for holistic, future-oriented corporate management and growth.
In LucaNet's Financial Performance Management software, you collect all your data in one database. The software bundles the processes from consolidation, planning, reporting and analysis in a fully automated application and makes validated data available for your management consolidation, legal consolidation, budget planning with integrated financial planning or for management reporting and reporting. You do not need any IT knowledge to use LucaNet's Financial Performance Management software. The software is fast, easy to adapt and secure to use.
comes hosts 6th benefit soccer tournament in Oldenburg
On Saturday, August 31st, the sixth Charity Soccer Tournament, jointly organised by the Oldenburg Prevention Council and comes Unternehmensberatung, took place.
Following the invitation, six teams met on the open-air grounds of the Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg. At the end of the afternoon, the Bremen team prevailed in the 'everyone vs. everyone' mode.
This year's winner and the teams of Sparkasse Emsland, Raiffeisenbank Oldenburg, Springer from Stuhr and Heinrich VOSS Gebäudetechnik from Haselünne scored a total of 82 goals in 15 games on the soccer court, so that a total of 6,500 € could be collected for projects of the Oldenburg Prevention Council (PRO). The company DOMO Collection from Hude, which had to cancel due to operational reasons, also contributed to the good result with a donation. It was with great pleasure that we were able to hand over the donation cheque to PRO on September 11th, 2019.
We would like to thank all participants and spectators and look forward to next year!
Successful investor process for Ebeling GmbH in Langenhagen
Plastic and metal processor Ebeling is saved. The Hanover-Langenhagen-based company was taken over by the newly founded Ebeling & Ko. Zerspanungstechnik. The approximately 50 jobs and the company's location have thus been saved. The predecessor company Ebeling GmbH filed for insolvency in April.
The insolvency administrator Ralph Bünning of Schultze & Braun, appointed by the Local Court of Hanover, continued business operations without restriction even after the insolvency petition had been filed. "With the constructive support of the Ebeling family, we were able to stabilize the company quickly," reports Bünning. This enabled Ebeling to continue successfully even after the opening of insolvency proceedings on July 1st. "We were helped above all by the employees, who supported our rescue efforts outstandingly with their commitment, and also by the customers, who remained loyal to the company during the restructuring phase".
Parallel to the restructuring efforts, Bünning exclusively commissioned the Distressed M&A team of comes Unternehmensberatung under the direction of Michael Rabe to structure the search for investors. As a specialised management consultancy comes accompanied the entire sales process, in which numerous regional and supra-regional interested parties were addressed.
At the end of the negotiations, Ebeling & Ko. Zerspanungstechnik GmbH succeeded with its offer. Behind the company is the sole shareholder Thorsten Koch from Wedemark, co-partner of several successful medium-sized companies. Koch will manage the company together with Torben Ebeling as managing director.
Ebeling GmbH had fallen into difficulties after suffering massive losses in turnover due to economic changes, e.g. in the oil industry. At that time, the industry was one of Ebeling's main customers. Although the company took restructuring measures and strategically positioned itself more broadly, these measures ultimately came too late to avoid insolvency. "I am pleased that the sale has enabled us to achieve our goal of creating the basis for Ebeling's long-term survival. The company now again has the opportunity to grow sustainably based on a healthy core," says Bünning. "I wish Ebeling all the best for this."
Successful investor process for SSC Wind from Wildeshausen
comes structures the investor process of the insolvent wind turbine specialist SSC Wind GmbH from Wildeshausen and supports the insolvency administration up to the successful sale to the Buss Group from Hamburg.
SSC Wind GmbH ("SSC"), which specialises in the construction, maintenance and servicing of wind turbines, will be taken over by the Hamburg-based Buss Group ("Buss") on 1 July 2019. In future, the company will operate on the market under the name Buss Wind Services GmbH.
After applying for provisional insolvency proceedings on 8 May 2019, the insolvency administrator Tim Beyer of Schultze & Braun, with the constructive support of the managing directors Mrs Higgen and Mr Eden, quickly stabilised the business operations of SSC and avoided possible unrest among the workforce. As a result, valuable time was gained for a structured investor process in which numerous regional and supra-regional interested parties were involved.
comes summer evening 2019
This year comes again hosted the restructuring afternoon with a subsequent summer evening in the "Villa im Heinepark" on the Elbchaussee.
In the context of the restructuring afternoon a lecture series was offered for interested participants. The current topics ranged from furniture manufacturers in crisis (presented by Dr. Michael Bourjau and Sebastian Mostertz, operations+ Consulting) to a practical case at the Schletter Group (presented by Ole Brauer and Christoph Chardon, Elsäßer Restrukturierung) to an insolvency emergency plan (presented by Dr. Karl-Friedrich Curtze, GÖRG).
Afterwards we welcomed our guests to the summer evening on a large scale. Beside best weather, great musical accompaniment and a delicious barbecue, another highlight of the evening was the speech of our former Hamburg Mayor Ole von Beust. In his contribution "Politik für Hamburg - Rückblicke, Ausblicke und Einschätzungen eines Elder Statesman" (Politics for Hamburg - Retrospects, Outlook and Evaluations of an Elder Statesman), Mr. von Beust dealt, among other things, with voter behaviour and the current significance of climate policy. He also commented on voter behaviour in the new federal states and gave his assessment of the declining attractiveness of the profession as a politician. This was rounded off again and again with successes and failures from his career as a politician and First Mayor of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
We would like to thank all participants and our guests for an all-round successful event and look forward to next year!
Headwind in the wind energy sector
The German wind industry is in crisis. After the tower builder AMBAU GmbH had already filed for insolvency in February, the Hamburg-based wind energy group Senvion Deutschland GmbH had to take the path of insolvency under its own administration.
The market cannot be cited as the sole reason in the search for the causes of the plight. Since 2010, the installed capacity of wind turbines has almost tripled worldwide. In Germany, renewable energies already account for 17.5% of gross electricity generation. Wind energy accounts for about 50% of this. Around one third of newly installed wind turbines in Europe went on-grid in Germany in 2018.
One reason for the crisis can be found in looking inwards: since 2017, the construction of wind power plants in Germany has no longer been subsidized. Instead, new projects are put out to tender in auction procedures. Due to inefficient production processes, German manufacturers are not in a position to withstand the cost pressure of foreign competition. Instead of investing in new technology and efficiency improvements at an early stage, German manufacturers have opted for cost reductions and thus fell behind. On the one hand, this increased price pressure on suppliers (see Ambau), and on the other hand, the lack of efficiency in production led to penalties due to delays in delivery.
Publication: The specifics of distressed M&A processes
In the general context of corporate and divisional transactions, distressed M&A processes are becoming increasingly important. It is of central interest for sellers and buyers to know which rules – also in terms of opportunities and risks – apply at the time of the transaction. Depending on the overall situation and future expectations, but as a rule always under high time pressure, a transaction can be executed both before and during insolvency.
In an analysis comparing classic M&A processes, our authors Dr. Bernhard Becker, Hendrik Leigers and Konrad Martin show to what extent the buyer's willingness to take risks and the seller's pressure situation are ultimately of decisive importance for the choice of the transaction date.
The article was published in KSI 02.2019 and can be downloaded here.
Short-distance co-operation – comes and Nordantech
comes starts co-operation with consulting tech company Nordantech
Nordantech has set itself the goal of facilitating the cooperation between management consultancies and clients in transformation projects. For this purpose, the young Hamburg-based company develops and distributes an intelligent project management software called Falcon. Falcon allows the coordination and management of complex projects through time-saving and clear features. The software impresses with minimal setup time and high intuitiveness. Falcon creates clear responsibilities and a simple overview of the overall project, goals and progress.
The short decision paths and agile working style make comes and Nordantech ideal partners. With their Hamburg branches, both companies are only a stone's throw away from each other across the Binnenalster. comes and Nordantech are looking forward to the upcoming projects: "From the first minute Falcon scored in our projects with speed in setup and user friendliness. When it comes to tracking measures and implementing change and turnaround projects, our customers confirm that with Falcon we have a product at hand that is ideally suited for decision-makers to achieve the desired success for the company," says René Labahn, Manager at comes. "Company transformation is not child's play. We appreciate the hands-on mentality and implementation strength of comes. Their years of experience in implementing measures coupled with our solution result in a powerful mix," adds Christian Kuhs, co-founder of Nordantech.
Together we will innovatively meet the challenges of medium-sized businesses and successfully accompany our clients through their transformation projects.
Company succession in Germany - an outlook until 2022
Every year, around 30,000 small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany are transferred to a successor. By the end of 2022, around 120,000 companies will have to undergo a generation change.
In about two thirds of these companies, family-owned or company-internal successors take over the business activities. For the remaining 30%, a suitable investor will be sought externally. The complexity and duration of this search is often underestimated, because a qualified and complete preparation of the company transition usually takes several years.
Digital transformation: Resilience as a new key resource
Survival under permanent pressure to change
In an ever more dynamic environment, the rules of classic corporate management are changing: classic planning is losing its foundation in the face of shorter planning horizons and the one-sided focus on process optimization along fixed development paths is changing from a recipe for success to a risk factor.
In contrast, the ability to react to unforeseen events and to shape permanent change becomes a new key resource. Under the term "resilience", this ability is often invoked, but rarely operationalized.
In their article, published in the Zeitschrift für Corporate Governance CGI 01.2019, comes employees Dr. Bernhard Becker and Jan Schoenmakers together with Silvia Braumandl put forward a proposal for such an operationalization for discussion on the basis of a systems theoretical model and apply it to the entrepreneurial context. The growing importance of intrapersonal resilience – to be understood as the resilience of the individual employee – is also discussed.
Please klick here for the full article.
comes congratulates Tribodyn AG on the Innovation Award
comes supports the acquisition of financing for new construction and corporate growth
Tribodyn AG in Northeim develops and produces the highly innovative, environmentally friendly leaf and soil fertilizer Lithovit. Using a special process, Lithovit is finely ground and thus tribodynamically activated. Lithovit increases the growth and stress resilience of the plants and is also suitable as a seed dressing. The products are 100% organic and certified according to Demeter and Naturland. For these achievements, Tribodyn AG was awarded the Innovation Prize 2018 of the District of Göttingen as well as the Entrepreneur Prize for Southern Lower Saxony 2018 of the Federal Association of Medium-Sized Businesses (BVMW).
After successfully entering the market, the still young company is already active in 100 countries and is pursuing ambitious growth plans. In 2018, a new company building with ultra-modern production and logistics facilities was erected in Northeim in order to unite all work steps under one roof in the future.
comes has supported Tribodyn AG with the acquisition and securing of equity and debt financing for investments in the new plant and further expansion.
comes accompanies three of the top 25 insolvency proceedings 2018 in Germany
In the past year, comes' team of advisors has again supported the companies and their lawyers in various standard insolvency and self-management proceedings. JUVE-Verlag has compiled a list of the largest insolvency proceedings for 2018. Of the 25 largest insolvencies, comes accompanied three, i.e. about one in eight:
- Max Moritz
- Unimet Group
- Car dealership Willy Tiedtke
In addition to liquidity planning in proceedings and comparative calculations for the insolvency plan, comes develops restructuring concepts and carries out M&A processes.
Please find further references to our self-management and standard insolvency proceedings here.
The JUVE list of the top 50 insolvencies can be found in issue 01/19 of the journal JUVE Rechtsmarkt.
comes is growing
The consultant, who is well versed in financing and restructuring issues, has been a member of our "Overcoming the Crisis" team since August 2018. At the Hamburg and Hanover offices, Mr. Körner supports our clients primarily in the areas of restructuring, distressed M&A and insolvency support.
Prior to working for comes, he advised medium-sized clients of various sizes and sectors at a major international bank and a big-four auditing and consulting firm.
After Mr. Leigers had already supported us during his university studies of Banking & Finance as an analyst/working student, he has now been working as a consultant in the Oldenburg team in the areas of distressed M&A and financing since December. He is also involved in digitisation issues with our joint venture partner Hase & Igel.
Prior to his studies, Mr. Leigers worked as a banker.
Since the beginning of this year, Mr. Labahn has been supporting our clients' operational turnaround at the Hamburg location, from invoice receipt to bank communication and strategy orientation. As a specialist for digital corporate management (consolidated financial statements, group planning and reporting), he is responsible for the expansion of the software-supported business area.
In previous positions, he worked as a manager in a consultancy and as a manager in controlling for a mechanical engineering group.
Allco Heimtierbedarf closes with a total quota of over 75%.
Allco Heimtierbedarf from Thedinghausen was able to pay out a total quota of 78.5 % to the simple insolvency creditors after the plan monitoring following the self-administration procedure.
At the end of 2016, the company had filed a petition for the opening of insolvency proceedings under its own administration and was able to win over the Czech pet food manufacturer VAFO Holding as an investor.
Allco was accompanied by a team of anchor lawyers led by Silvio Höfer and Florian Harig in its own administration and in drawing up the insolvency plan. Dr. Malte Köster, a specialist in insolvency law from the WILLMERKÖSTER law firm, was appointed as trustee. comes supported the investor process.
Successful comes M&A process for wind sportswear
Friedrich von Kaltenborn-Stachau (BRL Boege Rohde Luebbehuesen), as insolvency administrator of wind sportswear gmbh from Jesteburg, successfully sold the business operations to wind gmbh from Hamburg as of 01.01.2019. A large part of the jobs can be preserved.
The producer, wholesaler and retailer wind sportswear has been selling maritime fashion and accessories for almost 40 years. A strengthening of the brand in the North and Baltic Sea Coast region is planned for the future.
comes accompanied the takeover process on behalf of the insolvency administrator Friedrich von Kaltenborn-Stachau.
The detailed press release of BRL can be found here.
Transition: Digitization hits the wholesale trade – twice
The traditional business model of the wholesale sector is under considerable pressure in the face of digitalisation on two fronts at once:
On the one hand, on the market side, competition is increasing from new and established players who, after B2C business, are increasingly penetrating B2B business, as well as manufacturers seeking direct end customer contact. In addition, price transparency has increased significantly – also through online comparison platforms – which has further intensified pressure on margins. On the other hand, on the process side, many wholesalers have an investment backlog in their IT infrastructure along the value chain (purchasing, warehousing, order picking, sales). The result is an inadequate basis for decision-making for buyers and sellers and risks from warehousing (high inventories, old stocks). This also makes it more difficult to integrate e-commerce solutions for online sales.
These developments manifested themselves in numerous insolvencies of well-known wholesale companies in recent months (e.g. Testrut, Unimet, creatrade) in which we advised insolvency administrators.
Challenge digitization: IT risks in status reports
In its position paper on digitization, the Institut der Wirtschaftsprüfer (IDW) recently stated that many companies (still) lack the experience to transfer the changes associated with the digital transformation to their business models. In addition to technological risks, legal competences must also be focused on and possibly newly acquired in order to better assess the associated risks.
As announced in advance, Dr. Bernhard Becker of comes together with Michael Dilßner and Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller of the Helmut-Schmidt-Universität Hamburg examined the annual financial statements of medium-sized companies in order to find out how the opportunities and risks of digitization are listed. From the perspective of the accounting recipients, the results confirm that in many cases digitization has not yet arrived as a central challenge in corporate management.
The results of the analysis have been published in KSI 06.2018 and can be read in full here.
Extended liability risks in self-administration proceedings
If a GmbH (i.e. ltd.) files a petition for insolvency proceedings in its own administration, the management is no longer only liable according to the principles of company law, but to a greater extent like an insolvency administrator also in external relations – according to the relevant literature.
In the conventional regular insolvency proceedings, a strong insolvency administrator is given more extensive powers than the management due to a court order – which is accompanied by addional personal liability risks. In contrast, a procurator in self-administration proceedings merely assumes a control function and the management exercises the rights and duties of an insolvency administrator. The management's authority to act is thus extended and, according to the BGH ruling of April 2018, so is the liability basis. This serves to strengthen creditors' rights.
The management should therefore inform itself about the extended liability risks prior to filing the application and involve appropriately experienced lawyers – ideally by including a specialist lawyer for insolvency law who is experienced in self-administration proceedings.
Investment trap e-mobility
The imminent bans on older diesel vehicles in the city centres will further increase the pressure on all road users to act. For companies with their own vehicle fleets, the question now arises: "How do we have to equip ourselves for e-mobility"?
Now that renowned car manufacturers are also increasingly focusing on e-mobility, various truck manufacturers are currently also working on electrification of inner-city delivery traffic. The consequences – and above all the costs – that e-mobility entail are often underestimated: the acquisition costs of e-mobiles, charging infrastructure (pillars/chargers, mobile solutions, conversion of parking spaces, power supply, etc.) and electricity, a consumer good that should not be underestimated, must be taken into account when making an investment decision.
Big Data insights into the race for the CDU chairmanship
"All good things come in threes"? In the case of the promising candidates for the CDU presidency, only one can win. Does Big Data help us predict the outcome?
Our joint venture partner Hase & Igel has taken a close look at the "fever curve" of three important indicators: The scope and tenor of the press reports, the conversations and discussions in social media and the searches on Google for Merz, Spahn and Kramp-Karrenbauer. Who has the dynamics on their side? Where are the strengths and weaknesses?
The results are surprising - all information can be found here: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4
The importance of the interpersonal level in financial communication is often underestimated, especially in medium-sized companies
In the course of our projects, we are noticing more and more frequently that companies are not complying with supposedly easily achievable communication rules – such as adhering to agreed deadlines for the submission of reporting documents or proactive communication without any concrete reason for financing. Under certain circumstances, this can have serious consequences.
For example, although the formal information requirements on the part of banks are increasing, not least due to the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, the subjective assessment of the bank employee in charge plays a far greater role than many assume.
As part of ongoing projects, we are therefore increasingly sensitising our customers to the importance of the interpersonal level as well as the content level when communicating with stakeholders. Here in particular, major immediate successes can be achieved without incurring major costs.
Successful comes M&A process for the printing houses of the RIECK Group in Delmenhorst and Haldensleben
As insolvency administrator of Druckhaus RIECK Delmenhorst GmbH and Druckhaus RIECK Haldensleben GmbH, Dr. Malte Köster (WillmerKöster) has successfully sold the respective business operations. All employees keep their jobs.
The printing houses of the RIECK group operate web offset printing presses in coldset, which are used for newspapers and advertising supplements for example.
comes was commissioned by the insolvency administrator Dr. Malte Köster to manage the investor processes.
Report from the Weser Report can be read here.
comes launches joint venture for digital market development
In the course of the digital transformation, the rules in the market are changing: prosumer, multichannel, direct sales, platform economy, new influencers and an ever-increasing network density – it often seems as if companies have to be everywhere at the same time in order to remain successful. On the other hand, more and more players are no longer mapping the entire value chain, but are using virtualization and networks to skip stages and only occupy the decisive nodes. This puts previous favourites under pressure – and supposedly inferior ones have undreamt-of opportunities. How can you be successful under these new circumstances... and stay successful?
Since this topic is a major concern for our customers and increasingly determines the weal and woe of a company, we have launched a new company together with data and market expert Jan Rasmus Schoenmakers: HASE & IGEL is completely specialized in market development with the help of Big Data and intelligent processes.
The range of services goes beyond classic consulting: HASE & IGEL not only offers Big Data-based market, customer and competitive analyses and develops marketing, communication and sales strategies based on these – in line with its credo of "helping people to help themselves", the company also provides operational support for its customers in setting up corresponding processes, competencies and projects in-house.
Successful comes M&A process for the aviation supplier W. Ludolph GmbH & Co. KG in Bremerhaven
Dr. Per Hendrik Heerma (FRH Fink Rinckens Heerma), the insolvency attorney of W. Ludolph GmbH & Co. KG, has sold its business operations to the financial investor A2E Industries Limited, based in Manchester / UK, following successful operational restructuring. The company will now operate under the name Ludolph Bremerhaven GmbH. After the contracts for the sale of the company had already been concluded in June 2018, they could now be put into effect in September 2018.
Ludolph manufactures complex and high-precision milled parts for the aviation industry, medical technology and mechanical engineering in Bremerhaven and is one of the leading international specialists in the field of nautical instruments.
comes was commissioned by the insolvency administrator Dr. Per Hendrik Heerma to manage the investor process.
Report from Buten and Binnen: https://www.butenunbinnen.de/nachrichten/politik/ludolph-gerettet-100.html
Strategic alignment of ASTRO Motorengesellschaft
In recent years, we have supported the managing partner Thomas Graudenz, owner of the rapidly growing ASTRO Motorengesellschaft in Geestland near Bremerhaven, in the strategic orientation and alignment of market penetration. ASTRO manufactures synchronous motors with / without transmission used in a wide variety of applications, from simple actuators to the integration into complex control systems. In addition to the expansion of the modular standard program, we have particularly focused on customer-specific solutions. The use of explosion-proof motors (ATEX), which provide ASTRO with a unique selling point, is also becoming increasingly important. Thus, the company was able to grow in the double-digit percentage range this year.
In the course of the growth strategy, we have also optimized the internal processes in production and assembly and backed this up with suitable investments and a financing concept.
Successful comes M&A process for window and door manufacturer Baltic
As insolvency administrator of Baltic Fenster & Türen GmbH in Langenhorn, Peter-Alexander Borchardt (Reimer Rechtsanwälte) has successfully sold its business operations to the EGE Group. The 80 jobs in Schleswig Holstein were saved with the transferred restructuring at the beginning of August.
Baltic is known as a manufacturer of high-quality plastic windows and doors. The EGE Group strengthens its market position with the Baltic brand and its fourth production site in Germany.
comes was commissioned by the insolvency administrator Peter-Alexander Borchardt to manage the investors' process.
Co-operation with Bremen University
comes Unternehmensberatung has begun a co-operation with the International Graduate Center (part of the Bremen university): some members of staff have received a lectureship for an extra-occupational master's programme in the module "Business restructuring and insolvency".
Within the framework of this lectureship the students receive deeper insights into analysis and proceedings during restructuring and insolvency of companies. This will take place on different weekends in the winter semester 2018/19. To impart a broad spectrum of knowledge to the students, theoretical know-how is combined with practical examples.
We very much look forward to the co-operation with the university and the students!
Strategic focus on digitization
Almost every company will sooner or later be affected by the changes in the digital world. Tax consultants who no longer need accountants are affected, as are retailers whose goods can only be sold online or steel construction companies whose value chains are replaced by 3-D-printers.
On this topic, our colleague Dr. Bernhard Becker together with Prof. Dr. Mueller from the Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg has published the article "Strategic focus on digitization – chances and risks reflected in the annual report" in the industry special of the NWZ. Please click here for the complete article.
Fifth charity soccer tournament 2018 in Oldenburg
After having to pause for a year in 2017 due to very bad weather, the fifth soccer tournament of the Präventionsrat Oldenburg and the comes Unternehmensberatung took place on 25th August 2018. In the outdoor area of the University of Oldenburg six teams participated again to compete in the mobile soccer court. In the end, the LzO won the tournament.
The commitment of all participants has paid off again this year: 6,000 € were raised for the Präventionsrat's charity projects. Many thanks to the representatives of Sparkasse Emsland, Raiffeisenbank Oldenburg, Landessparkasse zu Oldenburg and to the two teams of Springer from Stuhr. And another thanks to the many helpers without whom such a tournament wouldn't be possible. We are looking forward to next year!
New framework for restructuring
New version of the IDW S 6 published
In August, the revised IDW S 6 "Requirements for Restructuring Concepts" was published (IDWLife 08/2018, p. 813-826). Compared to the previously valid IDW S 6 from 2012, the new standard has been significantly "streamlined" and supplemented with some clarifications. Due to urgent questions in practice, e.g. leads on the preparation of restructuring concepts with smaller enterprises were added. Although the IDW allows for the scale of the activity and the reporting to be adapted to the lower complexity of smaller companies, it still requires the handling of all core components of the standard for a complete restructuring concept, even for smaller companies. Only in this case it is ensured that the principles required by the highest court rulings are met.
In addition, the FAQ for the IDW S 6, which were published last year, have now been updated (see also IDWLife 08/2018, p. 826-847). This compilation deals with frequently asked questions from users about the practical application of the IDW S 6 and can therefore serve as an additional aid to interpretation.
We would be happy to exchange ideas with you - please contact our colleagues directly!
Digitization – status of annual reports 2017 – advance notice
The topic of digitization affects every company and, in addition to a lot of opportunities, also entails huge risks. Particularly if the company misses the signs and is overtaken by others.
Together with authors from Helmut Schmidt University, comes has dealt with the question of how chances and risks of digitization are incorporated in the annual report. This was based on 50 randomly selected financial statements of medium-sized companies effective Dec 31st, 2017 The evaluation result will be published in November in the journal KSI - we will keep you updated.
zero Mode – end of insolvency proceedings
Nach einer erfolgreichen zweijährigen Sanierung wurden die Insolvenzverfahren über die zero-Gruppe aufgehoben. Dank des großen Einsatzes der Insolvenzverwalter Tim Beyer (Schultze & Braun) und Dr. Malte Köster (WillmerKöster) und der neuen Eigentümer konnten alle 700 Arbeitsplätze des Bremer Modehauses erhalten bleiben.
Während des Verfahrens hat comes die Liquiditätsplanung und -steuerung sowie die langfristige Sanierungsplanung des DOB-Anbieters maßgeblich unterstützt und somit zum Turn-Around beigetragen. Möglich war die Sanierung in der Insolvenz dank des zukunftsträchtigen Geschäftsmodells, welches die ehemaligen Interimsmanager und jetzt neuen Eigentümer, Urs-Stefan Kinting und Victor Seuwen von Operations+ Consulting, bei Verfahrensbeginn vorfanden.
Das komplette comes-Team freut sich sehr über die erfolgreiche Zusammenarbeit mit allen Beteiligten, die zu diesem hervorragenden Ergebnis führte!
A summer evening with comes Hamburg
Auch in diesem Jahr lud comes Hamburg zum regionalen Sommerabend.
In der Villa im Heinepark an der Elbchaussee wurde dieses Mal ein vorausgehender Sanierungsnachmittag angeboten: Interessierte Banker nahmen an einer Vortragsreihe rund um Sanierungsaspekte teil. Dabei reichten die brandaktuellen Themen von Ferndiagnosen in Zeiten von Big Data über zwei Praxisbeispiele für erfolgreiche Sanierungen in der Insolvenz (zero Mode, vorgetragen von Dr. Malte Köster und Urs-Stefan Kinting, sowie Paracelsus-Kliniken, vorgetragen von Dr. Rainer Eckert und Andreas Ziegenhagen) bis hin zu einer Diskussion zum unechten Sanierungskredit (vorgetragen von Torsten Cülter und Nils Krause).
Im Anschluss empfingen wir unsere Gäste zum Sommerabend im großen Rahmen. Highlight war der Impulsvortrag zum Thema "eCommerce & Beauty: Chancen und Herausforderungen für einen Konsumgüterhersteller" von Sigmar Werz, Corporate Director Global eCommerce bei der Beiersdorf AG, welcher die Gäste zu angeregten Diskussionen inspirierte. Strahlender Sonnenschein, ein köstliches Barbecue und tolle musikalische Begleitung taten ihr Übriges, um den Sommerabend zu einer rundum gelungenen Veranstaltung zu machen.
Wir danken allen unseren Gästen für einen großartigen Abend und freuen uns auf eine Fortsetzung im nächsten Jahr!
Particular significance of creditor relations
Unter Creditor Relations sind die kontinuierliche beidseitige Kommunikation und der Austausch von Informationen, die für das Verständnis der wirtschaftlichen Situation eines Unternehmens erforderlich sind, zu verstehen. Dies ist in Zeiten von steigenden regulatorischen Anforderungen an Banken und Unternehmen und dem damit einhergehenden Erfordernis eines formalisierten, standardisierten Reportings umso wichtiger und gilt insbesondere, wenn es um den Ausbau der Geschäftsbeziehungen geht.
Zu diesem Thema haben die comes-Mitarbeiter Dr. Bernhard Becker und Jan Handzlik gemeinsam mit Felix Knoll und Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller den Artikel "Zur besonderen Bedeutung der Creditor Relations bei auszuweitender bzw. komplizierterer Fremdfinanzierung" verfasst, der in der KSI 03.18 erschienen ist. Die Autoren nehmen eine Einordnung im Rahmen der allgemeinen Unternehmenskommunikation vor und zeigen einen Praxisfall auf.
Den vollständigen Artikel können Sie hier lesen.
Top consultants 2018
For the third consecutive time comes Unternehmensberatung was voted amongst the top consultants.
Again this year, business magazine „brand eins“ together with Statista's market researchers awarded the "Top Consultants" seal. For various industries and business areas the best consulting companies were determined.
More than 3.000 consulting experts were surveyed: 1.743 consultants were asked for a peer recommendation, ca. 1.600 managers, 248 of these from DAX-, M-DAX- and S-DAX-companies, gave a client assessment.
This year, comes Unternehmensberatung again made it onto the list of top consulting companies in the “restructuring” segment and was awarded the “Top Consultants 2018” seal.
Know-how workshop "Digitization"
Ein Austausch über Digitalisierungsprojekte
Am 14.03.2018 haben wir zusammen mit der PwC die Know-how-Werkstatt „Digitalisierung“ in der Union Brauerei in Bremen abgehalten. Rund 50 Geschäftsführer und Bereichsleiter aus dem nordwestdeutschen Mittelstand diskutierten, wie mittelständische Unternehmen die Digitalisierung praktisch meistern können und welche Erfahrungen sie bisher damit gesammelt haben.
Die geladenen Experten gaben Einblicke in praktische Anwendungen und Fragestellungen: z.B. wurde die Intelligentmachung von Gabelstaplern im Linde Konzern sehr anschaulich erläutert, der Strategieprozess der Münchener Verkehrsbetriebe im Zuge der Transformation vom klassischen zum digitalen Mobilitätsanbieter (auch mithilfe unseres Relevanz- und Reifechecks) erklärt sowie Methoden zur Abbildung eines digitalen Fußabdrucks gezeigt. Als Überraschung am Abend berichtete noch Sven Külper, Gründer des Startups MyTaxi aus 2008, über die Stolper- und Meilensteine seiner entwickelten App bis hin zum Übergang auf Daimler Chrysler.
Die kurzen Impulse aus der Praxis regten die anschließende Podiumsdiskussion und den locker-vertraulichen Austausch untereinander bis nach 22 Uhr an. Im Zentrum standen dabei die Fragen, wie Daten intelligent und pragmatisch genutzt werden können, um schneller zu werden und Mehrwert zu schaffen – und wie man auf die teils radikale Verkürzung und Neuordnung von Wertschöpfungsketten reagieren kann.
Am Bedarf ließ nicht nur die rege Teilnahme keinen Zweifel: unsere Studie im Teilnehmerkreis zeigt, dass die Mehrheit der Entscheider zwar ein recht gutes Bild der Chancen und Risiken der Digitalisierung für ihr Unternehmen hat, jedoch deutliche Defizite bei der Umsetzung der Erkenntnis in konkretes Handeln sieht. Besonders groß sind die Lücken in den Bereichen Marketing & Vertrieb, der Steuerung mit Daten und der digitalen Aufwertung des eigenen Leistungsangebots.
Dialogue with investors is crucial
Important foundation for trust-based economical relationships and business success
Communication is the only connecting activity between partners. This is true not only for interpersonal relationships but also in the world of economics. Truth, clarity and candour are the words that create trust and allow common options for actions in the future. The importance of financial communication with investors for the business success cannot not be underestimated.
On this topic our comes colleagues Dr. Bernhard Becker and Jan Handzlik together with Prof. Dr. Müller from the Helmut-Schmidt-University in Hamburg have published an article in the "branches" special edition of the NWZ. The complete article can be read here.
Digitization - definition and readiness
Another addition to our team
Since the beginning of this year Prof. Dr. Stefan Razik is a part of our team.
From our location in Hanover he is supporting our clients in the areas strategy/leadership, efficiency and restructuring. Prof. Dr. Razik will also help advance our "health" business sector.
Next to his ongoing function as a professor for health management at the FOM University for Economy & Management, he had been working for another consulting company before and was also a free-lancing consultant.
Is the aspect of digitization considered in the revised version of the IDW S 6?
In the last article in the journal "Deutsches Steuerrecht" (German Tax Law) our authors have already voiced their opinion on the revisions of the IDW S 6. To add to this topic, our comes colleagues Dr. Bernhard Becker and Jan Schoenmakers, in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller, have published the article „Current developments of the IDW S 6 restructuring rules" (published in KSI 01/2018) in which they have asked themselves if the chances and risks of digitization have been considered sufficiently. The authors conclude that in fact no evaluation of sustainability is possible today without evaluating the internal and external digital environment at the same time. This should be considered in the evaluation standard. Derivation and substantiation can be read here in the complete article.
Fund-raising campaign for the Präventionsrat Oldenburg
In August the annual charity soccer tournament organised by comes in Oldenburg had to be cancelled due to weather conditions. However, the would-be participants insisted on giving a donation to the Präventionsrat anyway: On November 22nd, Bernd Becker and Peter Böttger (comes), Michael Tietjen (Nord/LB) and Thomas Rottinghaus (OLB) presented a cheque for 4000 Euros to Nicole Wilke from the Präventionsrat. Uwe Springer from the Springer GmbH, which also contributed to the donated sum, regrettably could not take part in the presentation.
We thank the generous donators.
Revised version of the IDW standard on the requirements for restructuring concepts
When preparing restructuring concepts, it is generally requested to use the standard IDW S 6 which was published by the Institut der Wirtschaftsprüfer (IDW, Institute of Public Accountants) in 2012. A restructuring concept in accordance with the IDW S 6 fulfills minimum criteria which on the one hand secure the quality and on the other hand provide legal certainty.
During the implementation of restructuring concepts however, different questions and problems have arisen which the standard does not or does only partly provides answers for. Consequently in 2016 the IDW has devised a Q&A paper to try and answer the most pressing open questions regarding the implementation in practice. Amongst other topics the requirements for restructuring concepts concerning small, less complex companies were put in concrete terms.
In September 2017 the IDW has also revised the IDW S 6 and downsized it notably in the process. The economic explications are not contained in the revised edition anymore but will be taken up as part of the Q&A in the future.
Our colleagues Dr. Bernhard Becker, Bernhard Bieckmann and Stefan Wechsung together with Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller have published an experts' opinion on the Q&A and the revised edition of the IDW S 6 in DStR 46/2017. Their special focus is directed towards the open questions from a practice oriented point of view.
The authors of the paper generally welcome the specifications and editorial modifications of the IDW S 6. However, they do not expect restructuring concepts to become less extensive or less expensive for small companies, because these also have to employ the basic components required by the S6. The explanations regarding the term "capital yields typical of certain business areas" as well as the possibilities of corporation restructuring the authors describe as positive, even though not all questions regarding practical implementation have been answered as of yet.
In the eyes of the authors the revised edition of the standard is lacking an explicit look into the chances and risks created by new (mega-)trends which is viewed critically. For many companies business models which have been stable for decades will change dramatically due to the influence of digitization, the industrial internet of things, and artificial intelligence. The question which consequences can be expected for the companies and the assessment of restructuring chances within the framework of a restructuring concept in accordance with the IDW S6 remains unanswered (so far).
The complete article was published under the title of „Konkretisierung der Anforderungen an ein Sanierungskonzept nach IDW S6“ in DStR, issue 46/2017, November 17th, 2017.
New additions to our team
From our Hamburg office he supports our clients in the sectors strategy, digitization and marketing/sales. Lothar Sommer will help to further expedite the business field "success". Before he joined comes he had been responsible for the transformation of business processes and sales channels in several consulting companies.
The experienced restructuring and insolvency consultant from Hamburg is part of our continually growing business field "crisis". As a specialist for financial and insolvency topics, amongst others with a big-four auditing company, Stefan Wechsung has accompanied numerous firms during restructuring and reorientation.
As an expert for digitization, online-marketing and social media he supports our clients from our Oldenburg office with the planning and the implementation of sustainable marketing and sales strategies as well as the opportunities offered by Big Data. Jan Schoenmakers had been communications manager with EWE and the founder of an e-commerce start-up before joining comes.
Summer evening with comes Hamburg at the Kai 10
On June 12th comes opened its doors for a regional summer evening on the Kai 10 in Hamburg. There were plenty of reasons for this event: comes has taken up Digitization in its consulting portfolio, shows its structural repositioning with a brand relaunch and was voted again amongst the top consultants in 2017.
A speech by Henrik Falk, chairman of the board at Hamburger Hochbahn AG, on the topic of "Digitization in regional public transport" inspired our guests to animated conversation. With musical accompaniment and fine beverages the evening found a relaxed conclusion.
We thank all our guests for a wonderful summer evening!
Interview with Prof. Dr. Thomas Wolf
During this year's 15th Health Forum organised by the Bayerische Gesundheitsmangement GmbH in Munich the main topics were the preservation and optimization of our health care system.
One focus was put on the issue of digitization in health care. As an expert in this area our colleague Prof. Dr. Wolf was invited as a lecturer. Additionally an interview with him was conducted which you can watch in its entirety using the link on the right.
Top consultants in 2017
Once again, comes Unternehmensberatung was named one of the top management consulting companies.
Together with the market researchers from Statista, business magazine “brand eins” awarded the “Top Consultants” seals for the best consulting companies in different industries and areas.
6,962 partners and principals were invited to take part in the survey (peer recommendations) as a basis for the 2017 rankings. In the ensuing step, 1,350 managers were asked for their assessment (client assessment).
This year, comes Unternehmensberatung again made it onto the list of top consulting companies in the “restructuring” segment and was awarded the “Top Consultant 2017” seal.
We are very pleased!
AEG Power Solutions - creditor protection shield procedure lifted
The insolvency plan that had been drawn up by Dentons with the support of comes was unanimously accepted by the assembly of creditors. As a result, the insolvency proceedings have now been suspended, allowing the restructuring activities to be continued together with a shareholder change within the 3 W Power Group.
Generous donations were received from the numerous guests attending the celebrations marking the 15th anniversary of comes Unternehmensberatung, during which a performance of the Marilyn Monroe Review was held in the state theater. We are very proud to be able to hand over a check for 2,230 euros to the two charities Präventionsrat Oldenburg and Elterninitiative krebskranker Kinder.
Monroe gala for anniversary celebrations
120 guests joined comes Unternehmensberatung at the Oldenburg State Theater to celebrate its 15th anniversary. The audience loved Kiki Beyer’s review of the life of Marilyn Monroe, who would have turned 90 this year.
Top consultants in 2016
comes Unternehmensberatung was named one of the top management consulting companies for 2016.
Together with the market researchers from Statista, business magazine “brand eins” awarded the “Top Consultants” seals again this year. The best consultants operating in a total of 31 industries and segments were selected from a total of more than 15,000 companies from all over Germany.
This is the most extensive survey of its type in Germany.
The main input for the study came from client satisfaction evaluations (around 1,500 managers from large, medium and small companies) and a survey of 5,776 partners and project managers at large consulting companies.
We were thrilled to learn that comes Unternehmensberatung had been included in the list of top consulting companies in the “restructuring” segment in 2016 and was therefore awarded the “Top Consultant 2016” seal. The fact that this award is based on assessments made by our customers fills us with particular pride!
Fourth Oldenburg charity soccer tournament 2016
In August, the annual charity soccer tournament organized by Präventionsrat Oldenburg and comes Unternehmensberatung encouraged numerous participants to join in and donate. As a result of the efforts of all those who took part, donations of 6,000 euros were raised for Präventionsrat this year. Many thanks to everyone involved!
Third Oldenburg charity soccer tournament 2015
The tradition lives on: once again Präventionsrat Oldenburg organized a soccer tournament in conjunction with comes Unternehmensberatung, collecting donations of 4,150 euros in the process. We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank everyone who contributed to this success either with their sporting efforts or with generous donations.
First Bremen night of hospitals
Hospitals in Northern Germany are currently navigating heavy seas and facing numerous challenges. The future viability of many clinics will depend on the extent to which they are able to establish solid capital structures, to optimize costs and processes and to simultaneously keep patients and employees happy.
At the first Bremen night of hospitals we showed managers, medical directors and commercial directors possible solutions for addressing the challenges currently facing the German hospital sector.
Second Oldenburg charity soccer tournament 2014
Präventionsrat Oldenburg organized a soccer tournament in conjunction with comes Unternehmensberatung for the second time, raising donations of 6,000 euros for the advisory agency Wildwasser Oldenburg. We are very pleased!
Berlin Half Marathon 2014
Amongst the many entrants in the Berlin Half Marathon 2014 were also runners from comes Unternehmensberatung. With the weather warm and sunny, our participants were in high spirits, reaching the finish line with pride.
First Oldenburg charity soccer tournament 2013
Präventionsrat Oldenburg organized a charity soccer tournament for Bewegungsinitiative Oldenburg e.V. with the support of comes Unternehmensberatung. Thanks to the efforts of all the participants, it was possible to hand over a check for 6,000 euros.
First Bremen night of hospitals
Article in Weser Kurier 5/2015
When the consultant enters the company
Article from Handelsblatt of November 9, 2009