Now hear this: Hidden Hearing aims to create 150 jobs

 

Hidden Hearing is forging ahead with a brand development and business expansion plan, despite the setbacks of Covid-19 over the past year.

Hearing healthcare provider Hidden Hearing plans to create 150 new jobs as part of a five-year plan.

Investment in the region of €10m has already been committed to a rebranding exercise which has seen new advertising, a new logo and brand identity, and new clinic branding gradually rolled-out, as well as a strategic review of Hidden Hearing’s core values, purpose and positioning in the Irish market.

“As well as innovating to meet patients’ hearing healthcare needs, we stayed open throughout Covid-19, testing and dispensing, and retaining all of our staff”

In 2020, the Irish management team opened five new clinics across the country.  These included three Cork locations in Blackrock, Clonakility and Mallow, a new Mayo clinic in Castlebar, and one in Rialto in Dublin.  New outreach services in existing medical practices were also established, in suburbs such as Monkstown in south county Dublin.

Business turnover for 2020 amounted to €30m, which was up 2[c on the previous year  More challenging trading conditions brought on by the pandemic did not deter a planned recruitment drive and investment in staff upskilling.

20 new jobs were created during the pandemic and Hidden Hearing will employ 150 new people across all departments over the next five years.

A sound vision for post-pandemic Ireland

The Irish business was established in 1987 in Cork originally.  It currently employs 160 individuals in Ireland across its countrywide clinics, a Cork marketing department and a Dublin head-office campus that includes learning, training and development facilities.

Business strategy, going forward, includes an ongoing commitment to organically growing clinic numbers across the island of Ireland, partnering with other Irish healthcare companies, investing in people and expertise, and launching the world’s most advanced hearing aid, Stephen Leddy, managing director of Hidden Hearing Ireland, explained.

“Twenty new staff joined the team at various levels in 2020, and recruitment is ongoing for new qualified hearing aid dispensers, clinic coordinators, office staff and marketing personnel.  They will be involved in rebranding the operation and in major expansion of our clinic network in 2021 so that we can continue to make life changing differences to even more people”, Leddy says.

Despite the pandemic constraints, Hidden Hearing dealt with over 100,000 patients at over 80 clinic settings last year, including Northern Ireland. 60,000 free hearing tests were carried out, with the business maintaining the same level of testing as previous years, and retaining all staff. 

The business, designated an essential service, remained open all year, although only for urgent appointments during the first lockdown which limited the movements of over 70s.

Brand identity

Hidden Hearing is aligning its brand identity in Ireland closer to that of Audika, a global hearing healthcare retail brand, which is also owned by the brand’s parent company, Demant Holdings.

The brand strategy reflects the value of being part of a wider expert group which facilitates access to the latest global technology innovation and range, as well as better buying power and world-class training. 

The Hidden Hearing name is to be retained in the Irish market however, albeit with a new blue brand identity replacing the red logotype, according to the local management team.

“Hidden hearing is a valuable brand identity with its longstanding association with local expertise and excellent customer care over thirty years. 

“We were the only national hearing service that immediately went into ‘care mode’ from the initial lockdown.  As well as innovating to meet patients’ hearing healthcare needs, we stayed open throughout Covid-19, testing and dispensing, and retaining all of our staff, when other providers were not available”, Stephen Leddy comments.

A nationwide marketing campaign titled ‘What Do You Hear?’ was part of the new tone and brand identity for Hidden Hearing in 2020. It was the biggest integrated campaign ever undertaken by Hidden Hearing, involving TV, radio, print, outdoor and digital media.

Covid-19 saw the hearing health providers rapidly adapt services, patient care and communications last year to reach their client base and maintain care levels.

With telephone and online links more significant, especially during the first lockdown, and reliance on TV and news media important for older people, the value of good hearing was more obvious, Leddy said.

Hidden Hearing quickly ramped-up telephone and online supports, with a contact centre staffed by experts. Free replacement hearing aid batteries were posted out to anyone needing them, regardless of whether or not they were existing patients, and damaged hearing aids or those needing adjustment were replaced temporarily for customers.

“Staying in touch is a lifeline, so, for the hearing impaired, maintaining hearing aids in good working order is essential,” added Leddy.

As well as the free hearing aid batteries, the hearing healthcare brand in Ireland introduced community care initiatives that were adapted globally by other regional businesses in the Demant Group.

These included a #Please Speak Up campaign, where free lapel badges and facemasks were provided. Face masks and screens in retail outlets and GP surgeries make it difficult for the hearing impaired, on account of muffled sound, so printed badges and facemasks ensured people understood the difficulty.

Other successful marketing initiative included a ‘Gift of Hearing’ giveback campaign where family could apply for free hearing aids for people ‘in their bubble’ to deal with hearing difficulties while cocooning.

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 19 January 2021