Stäfa Switzerland — In a wide-ranging press statement, Sonova Holding AG has replaced Unitron Hearing’s president, Michael Tease, with Jan Metzdorff. In addition, the company announced that the Sona brand will be merged into Unitron Hearing and that Phonak’s middle ear implant research facility in Lonay, Switzerland, may be closed.

Jan Metzdorff’s new position as president of Unitron Hearing is effective immediately. The announcement stated that the move was made to “further strengthen and position Unitron as a strong brand.” Metzdorff (pictured, right) has been in the hearing industry for over 14 years and managed several sales companies during his 7 years with Sonova. Since April 2010, he has been responsible for Unitron’s international sales development.

"Jan Metzdorff has a profound knowledge of and experience in the hearing aid business and a proven track record," says Alexander Zschokke, interim CEO of the Sonova Group. "We are convinced that he is the right person to further develop Unitron’s strong market position."

In conjunction with the new management change, Sonova has decided to consolidate the Sona brand and products into Unitron Hearing. Sona started in November 2009 and includes the world’s first upgradeable hearing instrument. Sonova says that it will further develop the upgradeable service and product concept for people with mild to moderate hearing loss under the Unitron brand.

Zschokke explained in the press statement, "This transfer will further strengthen Sona and Unitron by providing more synergies in product and service development, as well as in distribution. It is the next step to increase the impact of Sona’s technology, while making this innovative solution available to more customers around the globe.”

Finally, the company announced that it is evaluating the closure of the Phonak Acoustic Implants site in Lonay, Switzerland, which employs 26 people today working on the middle ear implant, Ingenia. Ingenia is still in the development stage and does not yet have the CE certification or FDA approval.

The closure decision is pending the outcome of the employee consultation process that has been initiated by Sonova. "An orientation about any organizational or personnel measures will be given only after the consultation period has ended and the results of the employee consultation have been carefully reviewed," added Zschokke.

As for the reason behind the potential closure, the press statement stated, “Management believes that, for Sonova, the cochlear implant market provides significant better mid-term opportunities for growth and profitability than the market for middle ear implant products. Therefore, any further development of the middle ear implant technology will take a second priority to the primary focus of the Medical Division to develop future innovations in cochlear implant products, especially in light of the return to the U.S. market of the existing HiRes 90K product. “

More information on all of the above is available on Sonova’s website.

SOURCE: Sonova Holding AG