Heanue, who has worked for the business for nearly 25 years in a variety of roles across the globe, has been UK managing director, with additional responsibilities for Sweden, Denmark and South Africa, for the past eight years.
“I’ve always planned to retire early but I discussed it with the board in March,” Heanue told PrintWeek.
“They asked if I’d mind doing another financial year, which I was happy to do, and we agreed that I would step down from the role at the end of March and leave the company at the end of April. I’ve got one month to hand over to whoever my replacement will be.”
While the recruitment process for Heanue's successor is ongoing, PrintWeek understands that the successful candidate is likely to come from within Heidelberg.
After working for five years in the oil industry and then spending five years at Citibank, Heanue’s career with Heidelberg began in 1995 when he was appointed finance director of Heidelberg UK. Four years later he moved to Singapore to become chief financial officer of Heidelberg Asia Pacific.
He later spent two more stints as finance director of Heidelberg UK and also worked as chief financial officer of Heidelberg Europe, Middle East and Africa, based in Germany.
“When I first joined Heidelberg in 1995, we were growth, growth, growth. We took over Sheridan, Linotype and EAC. For the first few years I was doing acquisition after acquisition,” he said.
“I led the Linotype acquisition in the UK, I led the EAC acquisition in Sweden, Denmark and the Baltics, and I was then transferred to run the EAC acquisition in Asia, which was fantastic.”
He added: “Then since 2008, we’ve seen more of a declining market, fewer and fewer customers, more productive machines and our customers are really pushing their assets to the limit.
“The UK is the most productive area for print for Heidelberg; our customers are producing on an XL machine sometimes two to three times more than a US customer would and up to 50% more than Germany on average.
“That usage has really pushed us on providing a good service. As the market consolidates, customers are requiring first-time remote diagnostics, first-time fixes and spare parts. They’ve become more demanding and we’ve raised our game to ensure that we could meet their requirements.”
Heanue will continue to be involved with print equipment manufacturer and supplier trade body Picon, where he is currently chairman until June, in a role that will see him looking after the organisation’s investments.
He will also continue to work with the Stationers’ Company where he is treasurer of the foundation, the charitable arm of the livery, and serves on the court. He said he has also been approached regarding possible non-executive roles and is currently reviewing his options.
On a personal level, Heanue added: “My wife Elaine and I plan to have a mini gap year, starting with a month in New Zealand at the end of 2019 and then visiting our favourite countries in the Far East. I also plan to start to playing tennis and golf again.”