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Harman Consumer Drops Distributors For Home Audio

Northridge, Calif.
– The Harman Consumer Division is dropping all two-step distribution for its
JBL, Infinity and Harman Kardon home audio brands; JBL and Harman Kardon
multimedia products; and AKG headphones.

The division also plans to step up its in-store merchandising
campaign in the coming months to include a more active in-store fixturing
program for large and small dealers.

Effective Jan. 1, the new
distribution strategy “will create more targeted and powerful retail
partnerships, support Harman’s premium brand equity, and ensure a richer
in-store consumer product experience,” the company said in a prepared
statement. The new business model will provide retailers with “greater
reliability and profitability going forward, as well as significantly increased
interaction and planning with the Harman Consumer team,” the company continued.

The strategy will help the group
“build its world-class brand portfolio and reputation for quality audio
products,” added James Foster, GM of the Harman Consumer division Americas region.

The group is dropping “a
considerable number of distributors,” who largely sold to independent dealers and
custom installers, as part of an effort to “take control of our distribution”
and exert a greater degree of influence over how the Harman products are
presented and sold, added Chris Dragon, consumer and field marketing director.

Harman Consumer’s independent rep
force, led by Eastern and Western regional sales directors, will take over home,
multimedia and headphone sales to small accounts. Sales to large accounts, including
Best Buy and Apple, will continue to be direct. Distribution of 12-volt
products is unchanged.

As part of the reorganization, the group hired Lyle
Smith as Western region sales director. He was most recently sales VP for the Western
U.S. and Canada regions for Klipsch Group.

Todd Bogart was hired as Eastern region sales director.
He has 25 years of sales experience with such companies as Bose, Logitech and Sirius
XM Radio. Both
new hires report to Foster.

In other changes, the group is
launching a new in-store merchandizing campaign that will group Harman Consumer
brands together in a single display area, importing a concept that Harman has
rolled out in hundreds of stores in Europe.
The concept will go live first at the end of February at Nebraska Furniture

In July,

Consumer executives told TWICE

that they would rebuild distribution, launch
new products and marketing programs, and differentiate the home brands from one
another more than they had been in the past. Said David Slump, president of Harman Consumer, “One year from now,
there will be an amazing story about where Harman is going in the U.S.”

Since last year, the Harman group has been part of a Harman


that eliminated SKUs that didn’t generate revenue or margin, eliminated
separate sales, marketing and product planning staffs for each brand, and moved
the group’s U.S.-based offices to Northridge, Calif., from Woodbury,

As part of the corporate changes, sales and marketing
of other Harman audio brands were consolidated and moved from Woodbury.,
N.Y., to Elkhart, Ind.,
to the

Performance AV