D&M’s Weissburg Discusses Snell, Escient Moves

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MAHWAH, N.J. — D&M Holdings will close down its Snell Acoustics and Escient operations, but the brands’ technologies will be incorporated into D&M’s other consumer brands, said Bob Weissburg, sales and marketing president for D&M North America.

D&M has already discontinued manufacturing of Escient products but will produce Snell speakers through May, then sell out Snell’s inventory, he said. D&M will maintain the two brand’s customer service, technical support and repair operations, and it will provide promised updates no later than June for Escient’s Vision A/V server, he said.

A poor economy took its toll on the brands, but on top of that, D&M said in a written statement, “The changing landscape of the speaker industry has made it extremely difficult for Snell to remain a viable business.” The high-end speaker brand did the majority of its business in the custom-install market, which has been hard hit by the collapse in new-home construction, Weissburg told TWICE. And in in-room speakers, “big speakers are not the trend right now,” he added.

As for the future sales potential of Escient’s media-management systems and standard-definition video server systems, he said, demand for “single-purpose products could be diminished over time.”

The two brands are North American brands, and their technologies can be put to good use in some of D&M’s core residential brands, which are globally marketed, he noted. The core brands are Denon, Marantz, Boston Acoustics and McIntosh.

D&M isn’t interested in using the Snell technology to take the Boston Acoustics brand to higher price points, Weissburg said. Boston is positioned as delivering high performance at great value, he explained.

Snell technology, however, could possibly be used in future McIntosh speakers or in Denon-brand speakers, which are available in Japan where Denon is positioned as a high-end speaker brand, Weissburg said.

McIntosh and Snell are likewise positioned in the high end of the speaker market, although Snell’s selection starts at lower price points. McIntosh offers custom- install speakers priced from $2,500 to $12,000 per pair, and Snell custom speakers range from $650 to $10,000 a pair. In in-room speakers, McIntosh offers speakers from $12,000 to $100,000 per pair compared to Snell’s $4,000 to $50,000 per pair, McIntosh said.

Weissburg also said D&M wouldn’t rebadge current Escient products with the brand names of core brands, but D&M could embed some of Escient’s menu and user-interface technologies into other brands’ products to manage media.

Though D&M is shutting down the two brands, the company nonetheless closed out fiscal 2009, ending March, with what it called “a significant improvement in profitability.” Profi tability grew because of better inventory management, a streamlining of operations, and cost reductions, among other changes, Weissburg said. The company, owned by Bain Capital, operated in the black in fiscal 2009 and 2008, he added.

Snell Acoustics was founded in 1976 and purchased in 1995 by Boston Acoustics, which was founded in 1979. Boston and Snell were then purchased by D&M in 2005. Escient was founded in 1995 and purchased by D&M in 2003. Other consumer brands purchased by D&M in recent years and later closed down or sold off are Replay TV and Rio.

D&M’s commercial and professional brands are Allen and Heath, Calrec, D&M Premium Sound Solutions (formerly Philips Sound Solutions), Denon DJ and D&M Professional.


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