Leica’s CEO Oliver Kaltner will be leaving in August


The current CEO of Leica Camera AG Oliver Kaltner will not be extending his contract on August 31st. The German website FinanzNachrichten reports that Leica's Supervisory Board was not satisfied with Kaltner's style of leadership. Here is the full, Google translated text:

WETZLAR (dpa-AFX) - The camera manufacturer Leica has to look for a new boss. The Chairman of the Board, Oliver Kaltner, had decided not to extend his term of office as of 31 August 2017, a company spokeswoman said on Tuesday in Wetzlar. His decisionBased "on other plans I would like to pursue," explained Kaltner. By the end of August, he would be "available in full" as the executive committee of Leica Camera AG. Kaltner had taken the position of head of the traditional company in April 2015.

It was clear from the company that the Supervisory Board was dissatisfied with Kaltner's style of leadership. He had run the small camera manufacturer like a large corporation. He had failed, "the employee "Leica, the German press agency, is about to take over the presidency of the board of directors first

Via FinanzNachrichten

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  • Mark James Luzzi

    Here is a thought.Instead of a corporate bean counter.Hire someone who is into photography.I know its a bit radical.

    • Paul

      Lol so true. I think a rotating position of someone randomly picked from the depths of the organisation would do a better job than most egomaniacs who wind up being CEO’s.

    • tjholowaychuk

      Yeah wtf, obviously he wasn’t very passionate about Leica, hopefully this is for the best then.

    • eric

      sure, if the person also has good business skills. just because you know about photography doesnt suddenly transfer knowledge about how to forge partnerships with other companies or make product decisions. a good CEO is a team player. my guess is this guy wasnt a good team player.

      • Paul

        CEO = team player? Lol good one.

        • eric

          sure, a good ceo is a team player. and by that i mean, addresses the needs of employees, product development, and the board. a bad ceo just does whatever they want.

    • Stina

      To run a company with more than 1 500 employees and a total sales of 365 million euros/year you need some more skills than just knowledge of photography.

  • Is DJI buying Leica too?

    • BlackStone already bought a big chunk of Leica (49% if I am not mistaken).

      • Thorsten Overgaard

        44% it was. Traditionally an investor would get a bit more, bit by bit to take over majority, but I don’t think that is the case. The percentage hasn’t changed despite new investments.

  • Bo Dez

    Very interesting. Hopefully this will account for some of the issues with Leica these days and the change will be good.

    • Stina

      And the issues are?

  • Florian

    I think ist doesnt matter who the CEO of Leica is. Andreas Kaufmann is the Boss anyway 🙂

  • Thylmuc

    still surprising. Leica has grown significantly, and make money.
    It might really be an internal conflict. When the engineers and desginers are dissatisfied, this will not help the product quality.

  • Tim Rule

    I always had the impression that Kaltner was Blackstones pick for CEO, at the time he (Kaltner) was appointed, April 2015, Blackstone was not happy with the growth of Leica and it was suggested that he would drive some real growth so that Blackstone could get what they want and exit their investment.

    The real problem might be that Blackstones expectations circa 2011 about Leicas growth _still_ have not been reached. Has Leica grown at all in the past 6 years? Yes, lots of new models, however 2011 was a good year and that trend certainly did not continue. So long that Leica’s primary market is exiting Leica owners … the demographics of their customer base will restrict their growth.

    Its Kaufmanns company …

    • eric

      if they wanted growth, all they would have to do is bring there prices down and increase product volume. but then the quality of the product may go down, when trying to reach a bigger market. so i can see the benefits of restricting growth.

      • Tim Rule

        Correct. Leica has rolled out a lot of Brand Shops, one assumes to increase growth by a reasonable amount, and they did discount for most/all of 2016 in the US.

        Did it work? Or did it just maintain the previous volumes?

        But, since the man behind that effort is leaving, and he was Blackmores man in the big seat …

        • eric

          yeah, without seeing the hard numbers it would be difficult to know if growth increased or volume was the same. i tend to the think the Q, sofort, and some of their other products were designed for a long term growth/branding strategy. the camera market itself is so flooded with options, all really good, its hard to see how much growth can happen outside of simple lower end branding attempts. and the only thing really seperating leica from the rest right now is the m-series rangefinder with excellent lenses. hopefully the new person will be someone who understands this.

        • Thorsten Overgaard

          The question is where they would be without Brand Shops, with less and less camera stores existing to facilitate a brand.

          There’s parts of that brand strategy they haven’t rolled out yet.

    • Heinz Richter

      Leica is the only camera manufacturer that has been able to point to considerable grows over the last few years. All other camera manufacturers have had to accept losses in their camera divisions.

      • Tim Rule

        Not sure if that is actually the case. Leica has quite a few unsuccessful cameras in the past 5 years.

        They do publish their financial reports in Germany, where the number of cameras shipped is included, so it is possible to quantify their performance somewhat. Unfortunately, I don’t recall exactly where the reports are made available.

        • Since Leica went from a public to a private company a few years ago, they are no longer required to post any financial data. I remember a few months ago they just reported some info, but nothing before: https://cse.google.com/cse?cx=partner-pub-2246852236957917%3Avujn58bgsny&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=leica+financial+results&sa=Search#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=leica%20financial%20results&gsc.page=1

          • Tim Rule

            They have to report some stuff in Germany. Its quite a detailed report, and includes volumes/revenue of camera types (system, fixed lens), but no model specifics.

          • Do you have a link to those reports? Thanks!

          • Mistral75

            https://www.bundesanzeiger.de/ebanzwww/wexsservlet

            Type ‘Leica Camera’ in “Suchbegriff”, then click on “Suchen”.

            Consolidated turnover:
            – 2011/12: €318.7m
            – 2012/13: €343.6m
            – 2013/14: €360.4m
            – 2014/15: €364.8m
            – 2015/16: consolidated accounts haven’t been published yet. Company’s accounts were published on 23 January 2017.

            Parent company’s turnover:
            – 2014/15: €276.4m
            – 2015/16: €299.5m

          • ok, thanks – so they indeed are doing well year over year

          • Bo Dez

            thanks for posting this!

          • Tim Rule

            There is a certain amount of BS coming out of Leica, which they can do because they don’t report as a public company. For instance, the 2015/6 results, as told by our man Kaltner:

            https://leicarumors.com/2016/04/05/leica-with-record-sales-increased-revenue-for-the-20152016-fiscal-year.aspx/

            12% increase sounds good, except that Leica increases their prices each year by 6%, so … the remaining 6% is growth. Nice, but, in that time frame there were 4 new cameras in the market (X, Q, T & S), plus the retail initiative … all that effort for 6% growth …

            I would guess the Blackrock is looking for 10-20% real growth. And that just does not exist within Leica’s existing customer base … perhaps the Smartphone tie-up will be more successful.

          • kahudson

            Actually, they had a 10% off discount on the Leica M that lasted about a year. Maybe that was a currency thing, but it wasn’t a 6% increase.

          • Les

            re: “all that effort for 6% growth”

            It’s a technology-driven market. If you’re not moving forward, you are falling behind. In other words, the baseline isn’t “do nothing and have 0% growth,” it’s “do nothing and shrink by 10%.”

      • Like I already said in my previous comment, we don’t know that – they are just a few press releases here and there but we do not have their full financial results to draw any conclusions. Since they become a private company, they are no longer required to publicly disclose their finances. Please correct me if I am wrong.

        • Mistral75

          As a German company of a certain size they are required to publish both company’s accounts and consolidated accounts. See above.

    • kahudson

      >> So long that Leica’s primary market is exiting Leica owners … the demographics of their customer base will restrict their growth.

      That is the long-term problem IMO. Leica just doesn’t have the same purchase on younger photographers (under 40) than it used to have. I don’t think it’s just a matter of price. Leica has always been relatively expensive. Rather the alternatives for a small interchangeable lens system with great image-making are really great at lower prices. In 2010, what were your real digital alternatives to a bulky dSLR besides Leica and some very early 4/3 and m43 equipment?

  • SomeoneNotImportant

    Finally. Way to go Leica!

  • eric

    i actually think leica has done a pretty good job clarifying its products over last few years. CEO’s oversee things, could just be people didnt like his style of leadership. I wouldnt read much into it. CEO’s dont make companies, good products do.

  • Mountainous Man

    Yikes, Leica finally gets the digital M right, and then they kick the CEO.

    • eric

      who knows if CEO was behind the new M. At least he’s leaving at a good time for Leica and not after a new m failure.

    • Bo Dez

      Some rue the functionality that has been lost in the M and feel locked out.

  • FountainHead

    Somewhat shocked that he wasn’t leaving “to spend more time with his family”, “to explore other opportunities”, or some other line of corporate mumbo jumbo.

    Gently lay your M flat on the pavement to get the photo–they threw this guy under the bus.

    • eric

      he’s not technically leaving til august of this year so i would not feel sorry for him at all. he has six months to secure his next job, how many are afforded such time? im sure he will get another high paying job. a lot of CEOs move around.

  • David V. Kutaliya

    I remember that Peter was hoping that the M10 will appear on the Photokina 2016 …

  • Darling W.E.

    How many CEO they had changed for the last few years ???

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