NEW YORK —
Meridian America significantly scaled
back its dealer base and product selection beginning
in 2009 yet posted a 12 percent sales gain in 2010,
CEO Peter Wellikoff told TWICE.
Meridian grew by focusing more resources on fewer,
more committed dealers and by taking more of a luxury
position in the A/V market, he explained.
With its greater focus on the luxury market, Meridian
brought in new staff with a luxury-market background
and opened up its U.S. headquarters here for
use as a dealer showroom to demonstrate Meridian’s
high-end audio and video products to high-level business
executives, athletes and actors who don’t shop
in retail stores, Wellikoff said. The company plans to
make this strategy “bi-coastal,” he noted.
Meridian also began to support dealers whose highprofile
customers want a demo in their own homes.
For these dealers, Meridian flies out products and staff
to set up and demo a system in the potential customer’s
home and let the homeowner live with it for a day.
About 90 percent of the time, Meridian staff makes the
presentation to the consumer, but the dealer sets up
the appointment and profits from the sale. All home
demos to date have closed a sale, Wellikoff noted.
The reduction in the U.S. dealer base began in late
2009, and by the end of 2010, the company had reduced
its 250 active accounts to 150, Wellikoff said.
By mid February, the company had pared more dealers,
bringing the base to 120. And more cuts could be
coming. “We hope to bring it to 100,” Wellikoff said.
“The brand is better served by providing more resources
to fewer dealers,” he explained. Meridian also
entices to make “full commitments” to the brand, he
said. Among A/V dealers with retail storefronts, the
commitment includes a Meridian shop within a shop.
In paring its selection, the company reduced its SKU
count to 30 from as many as 130 in 2007, said Tim Ireland,
CEO of U.K.-based parent Meridian Audio Ltd.
The company, however, is gearing up to add at least
one more product, a six-zone Sooloos audio server
that offers more zones and more output types per zone
compared to the company’s other multizone servers,
said regional sales manager Ryan Donaher. The MediaCore
600 will be Meridian’s first multizone server
with proprietary SpeakerLink output. Although many
specs haven’t been finalized, the server will feature
one analog output, one coaxial digital output, and one
SpeakerLink output per zone.
SpeakerLink delivers balanced 96kHz/24-bit digital
audio and control signals over up to 300 feet over CAT-
5e RJ-45-terminated cable to the company’s active
DSP speakers. The target delivery date is late spring.
Meridian is majority owned by Reinet, the investment
division of Richemont, which owns such luxury brands
as Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin,
Jaeger-LeCoultre, Panerai and Montblanc.
Reinet upped its investment last year to a majority controlling