By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Major U.S. distribution changes, stepped-up international sales, new products and support programs, and a decision to refocus on multichannel A/V speakers will be responsible for a 40 percent gain in Atlantic Technology sales in 2004, said sales and marketing VP Chuck Kittelson.
The distribution changes include the recent appointment of AVAD as the company's exclusive distributor of home theater and custom-install products. The stepped–up international marketing effort, launched about a year ago, will increase the international share of calendar 2004 sales to about 25 percent from about 5 percent to 10 percent, he continued.
The company's decision to scuttle the launch of its first-ever distributed-audio system will enable Atlantic to recommit to its original focus on multichannel A/V speakers, which now includes custom-installed home theater speakers. Nonetheless, Atlantic will continue to offer a small selection of A/V electronics and custom distributed-audio speakers, he noted.
The changes follow the early-year return of company control to Atlantic's original board of directors and to president Peter Tribeman after consulting firm OAC Group sold the majority interest that it purchased early in 2003.
Because of Atlantic's distributed-audio system plans and last year's management change, Kittelson said, “Dealers knew who we were … [but] lost focus of who we were.”
To expand sales of its A/V products, Atlantic joined with national distributor AVAD in August. Atlantic previously sold through a few AVAD-network distributors and a few independent distributors, Kittelson said, but in dropping independent distributors for an all-AVAD lineup of 25 distributors, Atlantic will be able to provide “a higher level of service” to custom installers. “AVAD is the only distributor on a national basis that can convey the value/performance relationship,” he said, because of their training facilities and marketing commitment. AVAD will also broaden Atlantic's geographic distribution.
Atlantic will participate in AVAD's home-theater-on-a-pallet program, in which AVAD creates prepackaged systems, including video, from multiple audio and video brands, Kittelson noted.
In other distribution changes, Atlantic last year dropped mail-order catalogs and authorized Internet sales to encourage dealers to support the company's entry into home theater speaker systems priced to $25,000. About two years ago, the company's home theater speaker systems topped out at about $4,500.
In new products, the company plans November shipments of its first wall-mount speakers intended for use with flat-panel video displays. They are the FS-3200LR, at $900 a pair, and the $500 FS-3200C center channel. They measure 25 inches by 6.5 inches by 4.75 inches, and they are some of the few on-wall speakers that deliver bass down to 80Hz, Kittelson said. With included wall brackets, the speakers can be aimed straight out or towed in at 15 degrees. An optional floor-standing base turns the LR speakers into towers.
A new home theater speaker package, also due in November, lowers the opening price point for a 5.1-channel enclosed-speaker system from $1,200 to $899. At that price, the finish is satin black. A metallic-silver finish will also be available.
For likely shipment in January, Atlantic plans its first indoor/outdoor speaker at $399 a pair, and at January's CES, it plans to launch three new in-wall speakers. They're intended for home theater and high-performance distributed-audio venues such as master bedrooms, Kittelson said.
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