Harman Consumer Drops Distributors For Home Audio

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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 Mart.

In July,

Harman 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 International


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, N.Y.

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

Harman Performance AV





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