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A ro u n d t h e G l o b e

News from South Africa

Uwe Braehmer

Despite its breathtaking natural beauty, the country at the Cape of Good Hope is no paradise. South Africa is a country of very great contrasts ­ and an interesting market in which Carl Zeiss does good business despite a difficult economic scenario. The 100-strong workforce of Carl Zeiss in South Africa, from which the markets in Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe are also covered, contribute an annual sales figure approaching DM 20 million to the Carl Zeiss Group. "The name Zeiss enjoys a very high standing here", says Ernfried Sehnke, the new President of Carl Zeiss (Pty.) Ltd. in Randburg near Johannesburg. In the past few years of political uncertainty, the excellent reputation of Zeiss products has helped to sustain instrument and system sales

industry and its subcontractors what their concrete requirements actually are. In this way, we aim to enhance service quality ­ a factor which is now becoming more and more important", explains Sehnke. However, the real cornerstone of business for Carl Zeiss is ophthalmic products which account for around 50 % of overall sales in South Africa. Prescription labs in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Bloemfontein supply the country's eyecare professionals with Zeiss quality. While glass lenses are particularly popular, eyeglass frames and contact lenses from Carl Zeiss have not yet achieved any major degree of success. "Inhibiting factors here include the typical taste and preferences of the South African population and the high price level of Zeiss frames. The more than 150,000 frames that we sell in the country every year are specially designed for this market", explains Volker Antes, the manager in charge of ophthalmic products in South Africa. A further mainstay of business in the South African subsidiary is medical systems and microscopes. In the field of surgical microscopes in particular, Carl Zeiss has a good name

in the areas Medical Systems, Microscopy and Industrial Metrology. The automotive industry in particular is suffering from lower import duties and the reduced buying power in the country. "We are currently using a telemarketing campaign to ask our metrology customers in the car

in South Africa. "However, the state is providing less and less money for the public health service, with the result that private hospitals are increasingly becoming important clients for us," is how Sehnke describes the current trend. Finally, there is a very special type of merchandise marketed by the Zeiss company in South Africa that enjoyed a real boom in the past thanks to the numerous gold, platinum and diamond mines scattered across the country: precision and analytical balances from the firm Sartorius in Göttingen, Germany. Despite the difficult economic climate, the committed team of the South African sales company has set itself the goal of sustaining sales and expanding new business in some individual segments of the market, in particular by providing customers with even better service.

Figs 1 to 4: Impressions from South Africa. 1 and 3: The city of Cape Town with a view of the harbor and the famous Table Mountain in the background. Photos 1 to 4: dpa.

Fig. 5: Mr. Tshabalala, who works in the shipping area of Carl Zeiss (Pty.) Ltd. in Randburg, was proud to receive his certificate in honor of 25 years of service to the company.

Fig. 6: President Ernfried Sehnke and employee Alexander Richter (standing from left to right) with a customer at an Axiovert® 100 M CARV microscope.

Innovation 7, Carl Zeiss, 1999

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