New York – Danish high-fashion electronics manufacturer Bang & Olufsen (B&O) formally opened Wednesday a new Manhattan outlet store, which is just the third in the world to use its new flagship showroom concept.
The event was also an opportunity to introduce B&O’s new U.S. president, Kathy Thornton-Bias, and Tue Mantoni, B&O’s CEO.
Thortnon-Bias joined the company last month after serving as president of retail for the Museum of Modern Art. She had also held positions with Saks Fifth Avenue.
“This is only the third flagship store we’re building in the world because we felt we wanted to practice before we went to New York City,” Mantoni said at the store ribbon cutting ceremony. “First we built one in Copenhagen and that had a lot of snagging issues, then we built one in Shanghai and that had a few snagging issues, and now we have this one, which is hopefully, perfect.”
The new Manhattan flagship store, located at 58th Street and Madison Avenue, is not an expansion of company’s three New York City outlets, but rather a relocation of one of the company’s Midtown units.
Mantoni has another five flagship store conversions planned for the United States over the next 12 months. In total, B&O currently has 650 stores around the world, 53 of which are in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The flagship store design, trimmed in the style of a modern Scandinavian home, is comprised of three zones.
The first zone, called the B&O Play Area, is located upfront and close to the showroom window to invite passersby in to “play” with the products. The assortment represents many of the brand’s smaller products including headphones, telephones and AirPlay speakers that shoppers can handle and explore as they get to know what B&O offers.
The second zone features B&O’s larger home products, including TVs, sound systems and speakers, presented in a way that is attuned to B&O’s creative design style. Speakers are positioned around and within a mechanical paneled wall designed to allow B&O’s unusual speaker designs to suddenly appear from behind rotating panel doors when they are selected for a demonstration.
The home-theater demonstration area also supports the brand’s larger products including floor standing speakers and TVs.
“We’ve gotten our product and interior designers of the store together to create a showroom that epitomizes what we are all about – mechanical magic, surprises, enabling you to experience the beauty of the products, the acoustics and the picture quality, in a special way that you’ve never seen before,” said Mantoni.
The third zone, located in the rear of the store, is an elegantly styled office area where customers can sit down with an interior designer or custom installer and a B&O product specialist to create a system that’s right for the client’s tastes and needs.
“We find the three-zone design allows customers to pick products ranging from the entry level all the way up to the big solutions,” Mantoni said.
Mantoni acknowledged that B&O is unusual in today’s market — installing new concept store designs when many others are contracting or closing locations — because, he said, “we are a small player that can afford to do different things. We are more agile and able to test things out. In opening this one store, we can see what’s right for us and we can keep it or change things up.”
He explained that B&O’s strength has always been the unique designs of its products, which tend to sell to sophisticated design-focused consumers in any economic climate.