|Shakeup in Europe|
by Dan Lavin
Hannover, Germany: The dust is still settling on a massive reorganization of NeXT's European operations, whose casualties include many of NeXT's top management abroad and NeXT Europe's headquarters in Sophia Antipolis Cedex, France.
The ouster of Theo Wegbrans, NeXT Europe president and general manager, is related to poor European sales in the third and fourth quarters. But evidence suggests that NeXT executives were caught by surprise at the scope of the difficulties in NeXT Europe.
Paul Vais will succeed Wegbrans as acting vice-president of NeXT Europe, according to a company spokesperson. Vais was formerly the head of NeXTedge, NeXT's post-sales support organization, in its Redwood City, California, headquarters. Vais has also been elevated to the policy team, NeXT's executive operational body.
There will be no president of NeXT Europe, reflecting its new status as more of a sales and marketing organization than a separate business operation. The Sophia headquarters will close in the next few months, and new headquarters will open in Paris, NeXT said. Its marketing employees will be offered transfers to the United States, where they will be integrated into the marketing group to "help globalize NeXT headquarters and integrate Europe into the company," said Vais.
NeXT also fired Richard Strong and Jean-Jacques Maucuer, country managers of the United Kingdom and France, respectively. Duco Sickinghe was transferred from vice-president of marketing for Europe to acting country manager of France; Dieter HŸttenberg has gone from director of higher education to country manager of Switzerland; Stuart Marvin has moved from his position as multicountry manager to country manager of Italy; and Gregor Bailar moved from head of the European support team to head of the U.K. operation.
The only country manager left in place is Helmut Blank of Germany, which has the strongest performance in Europe.
Demand creation is the key to NeXT's new European strategy. NeXT itself will take primary responsibility for developing demand for products whether they are sold directly to customers or through dealers. Dealers that do not add value or demonstrably create demand on their own may lose their certification in the coming months, according to the company. The dominant tactic will be co-selling, with NeXT and dealers selling to accounts together.
Vais will reshape the efforts of his staff toward these new goals. "You can't do anything, even the wrong thing, for 18 months and not build some valuable partnerships," said Vais. He plans to "orient the staff from selling to resellers to selling to customers with resellers."
NeXT overhauls European operations
∙ Wegbrans ousted
∙ Vais appointed acting VP
∙ Sophia headquarters closed
∙ U.K., France country managers removed
∙ Dealer strategy revamped