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French H&B Brand Hits The United States

France-based value-oriented electronics brand H&B Electronics is coming to America with a range of aggressively priced DVD players, MP3 players and LCD TVs offering retailers flexible programs and quality performance.

Jeanne Pierre Boccara, owner of JPF which owns the H&B brand, said he is now distributing H&B products in the United States through New York-based Premium Distribution Corp., under the direction of Oksana Sabo and Benjamin Liebermann-Bragard.

JPF, which started H&B three years ago in France, currently sees about $120 million in annual sales from the H&B brand in Europe. The company carries lines of MP3 players; LCD and plasma TVs; and DVD players, recorders and combo products.

H&B has built its business selling Asian-manufactured products built to its design specifications. In addition to quality, the company is known for its Euro-style focus on cosmetic design, said Liebermann-Bragard.

“We want to bring to this market high-tech products with good quality, new design and aggressive prices,” Liebermann-Bragard said.

Liebermann-Bragard said his company — Premium Distribution — has an exclusive arrangement to distribute H&B products in the United States, and reserves the right to expand its mix with other products and brands in the future if it chooses to do so.

Premium is launching the brand around an affordable DVD player, an ultra-compact SD-based portable MP3 music player called MusicCube and a line of high-definition LCD TVs.

The DVD player features a very thin cabinet design and progressive-scan output. It is expected to see street retail prices of around $70.

The MusicCube, which will launch at a $99 suggested retail price, features 128MB of internal flash memory, and will accept optional SD and MMC cards for additional song files.

It includes a built-in AM/FM radio, digital voice recorder, built-in USB connector and two sets of earphones — one long for belt or pants-pocket carrying and the other short for carrying the player in a shirt pocket.

The cube measures 2.1 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.8 inches, and comes with a case that can be worn on a belt.

Boccara said that in November the company will add a line of LCD TVs in 17W-inch, 26W-inch, 30W-inch and 32W-inch screen sizes. All will have widescreen 16:9 aspect ratios and high-definition resolution capability, and all but the 17W-inch model will include DVI with HDCP digital inputs. Other inputs on all models include RGB via VGA, and HD component video.

In the U.S. the company will work both through a network of distributors to serve smaller accounts and directly to serve higher volume accounts. In Europe, as much as 90 percent of the business is done directly with high-volume merchants, Boccara said.

Premium Distribution will warehouse products in New Jersey, and eventually in California, for West Coast accounts.

By the end of the year, Boccara said he expects to introduce DVD recorders both with and without hard-disk digital video recording capability for the U.S. market. Also slated are portable DVD players.