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A Blueprint From Europe?


Cover Story

A BLUEPRINT FROM EUROPE?

When Marco Landi was tapped to run Apple Europe 11 months ago, he did just what some people think Apple CEO Michael H. Spindler should have done: impose discipline and accountability. "I tried to understand the Apple culture, but I didn't abide it," says the former Texas Instruments Inc. executive. "I used the good things like entrepreneurialism and innovation and tried to bring in more control and management processes."

The 52-year-old Italian's overhaul of Apple Europe is producing results. While the unit lost market share for the year, Landi halted the slide in the final quarter of 1995: Sales jumped 18%, compared with an estimated market growth of 16%, according to researcher Dataquest Inc.

That's not where Landi made his mark, though. In fiscal 1995, he tripled profits--turning in the best performance of any Apple unit in the world. Insiders say Europe's profits jumped to $300 million on sales of $3.2 billion.

Has Landi perhaps created a blueprint for Spindler to use in his pending overhaul of operations? Insiders say Spindler, who once held Landi's job, is adopting many of the concepts Landi has implemented--above all, narrowing Apple's focus to markets such as desktop publishing and education, where the company can be profitable.

PATHFINDER. It may have taken an outsider to show Apple the way. During a 22-year career at Texas Instruments, Landi became a disciple of strict business controls. In his last 18 months at TI, he restructured the European operation and turbocharged its sputtering performance by slashing costs, shaking up management, and shifting TI's product mix away from commodity items. "He did a first-rate job at TI," says Geoffrey S. Carroll, a group manager of Electronic Data Systems Corp. in Europe. "If there's someone who can focus on the basics of business, it's Landi."

Another trait that sets Landi apart from the traditional Apple manager is his decisiveness. At one TI meeting, Landi became convinced the company's structure wasn't working, so he tore apart European managers' old fiefdoms based on national borders on the spot and reorganized the management lines around markets and business processes, such as sales, marketing, and distribution. "People walked out of the room with new jobs," says Marc Vodovar, a TI executive who worked with Landi for eight years.

In a similar shakeup last April, Landi restructured Apple Europe, reaping 20% reduction in total costs, by eliminating country-by-country management and focusing on key markets. Already, the new structure has improved Apple's delivery speed. Under the old system, Landi says Apple Europe's distribution was dogged by shipping delays from its factory in Cork, Ireland. Now, goods reach the market in two days, not two weeks.

Landi has overhauled Apple's Paris headquarters, too. To break up the entrenched corporate culture there, he replaced 7 of the 12 managers reporting to him. "Apple is more and more professional. We still have fun, but we are much more customer-oriented," says Frederic Spagnou, an Apple Europe manager.

ALIVE AND WELL. Pushing the Apple agenda in the market isn't nearly so straightforward. Corporate customers, shaken by reports of Apple's losses and by speculation about a possible sale, are questioning the company's future. Landi's answer: Apple is alive and well--and ready to work with them in the emerging Internet market and other areas, such as multimedia publishing.

Of course, Apple Europe is still a work in progress. Recently, Landi walked into an Apple Center in Italy and was dismayed to see no posters highlighting Apple's new Internet efforts. Within a week, Landi had Internet-ready stickers slapped on every Macintosh box. "I know where I want to go, but I can't get there alone," says Landi. If his blend of charisma and rigor in management can channel the creative spirit in Europe, he may point the way toward Apple's future.By Gail Edmondson in Paris


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