New management and organizational structure for Hirsch

Hirsch Armbänder AG, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of watchstraps and parent firm of Speidel Inc., is entering the new century with a new corporate structure and changes in top management.

Hermann Hirsch has retired as chairman. He joined the family firm in 1957, bought it in 1975 and has led it since then. Hirsch has turned control of the company, based in Klagensfurt, Austria, to an exectuive committee of three co-directors. They are Walter Lehman, who is responsible for corporate strategy and business operations, Horst Werner Heipl, who is responsible for finance, administration and acquisition, and Robert Hirsch, Hermann’s son, who is executive director of sales and marketing. Hirsch also continues as chairman of the company’s Hong Kong and U.S. operations. Hermann Hirsch will continue as a member of the company’s supervisory board.

Spokesmen for Hirsch and Speidel, located in Providence, R.I., say Speidel isn’t affected by the changes.

Hirsch employs more than 900 people worldwide and produces some 20-million watch bracelets annually. Group sales in 2000 amounted to about $67.6 million (Euro 72.6 million)

In addition, the corporate structure has been split into two: Hirsch Armbänder, which makes watch bands and bracelets, and Hirsch Advanced Technologies (HAT) Skinline. HAT, spun off as a public company, produces ”designer surfaces” for products ranging from case shells for mobile phones to plastic straps for Swatch watches (80 million since 1990) using cutting edge injection molding technology