A new look Bang & Olufsen is set to emerge following the take over of the Australian operations by Bang & Olufsen. Previously the operation was run by the Smorgen family.
High on the agenda are new look stores and a rationalisation of the B&O back office operation. During the next few months the company will be restructured into 2 core groups, retail stores and sales & marketing. All other operations including logistics will be outsourced. The company is also introducing a brand new CRM system that has been developed in house by the Company.
The system will be used to initiate new marketing programs that drive more traffic to the 16 Australian stores while allowing for ongoing communication with existing customers. The Company an average purchase price for Hi-Fi and Vision products of $4,500 in Australia.
Two stores have been singled out for an immediate make over early in 2006, Paddington in Sydney and the Companies Collins Street store in Melbourne. B&O is also set to launch several new products including some high end systems that have not been seen before in Australia.
Lars Mrup Managing Director of B&O's Asia Pacific operations said "We are totally restructuring our operations in Australia as Australia is a very important market to the group. Australia is early adopters of technology and in many cases are ahead of a lot of other countries. 70% of our business is from existing customers and we have to give these customers a better B&O experience. We are going to broaden the product range by introducing entry new entry level products as well as some new high end audio and vision systems. We will go after a younger audience"
He added "We will also re position the brand bringing it more into line with our global brand positioning. We are also set to invest millions in our retail operations". When asked whether B&O would consider opening up stores with established CEDIA member stores he said "Yes this is an option. What is critical is the selling environment. It has to be reflective of the B&O brand qualities and the staff has to be very experienced in all aspects of the B&O product range. We are not box shifters. We introduce people to amazing entertainment experiences".
When asked about whether B&O would sell other branded products similar to their US stores he said "No. In the USA we have been selling Panasonic product such as screens. This will end with the introduction of new high definition digital technology that allows us to deliver both PAL and NTSC signals to a TV screen. In the past and because we only manufactured PAL based TV's we had to co sell in the US market".
"What we are about to introduce to Australia is the B&O living concept which will allow consumers to get a real feel for B&O products in a living environment. We think this is important as B&O lifestyle technology is designed to simplify an entertainment experience from the remote that turns everything on to the devices and the sound system".
Bang & Olufsen will also use a new technological platform in an effort to double sales over the next five years. The group's chief executive, Torben Ballegaard Soerensen said recently that the group is investing more than $20million into a global chassis, which enables the same video product to be sold in Europe, America and Asia without market-specific modifications.
The chassis also allows the group to launch a broader product programme in the important US market. 'It is primarily the improved market possibilities that have led us to invest in this product' Ballegaard said. 'But we can naturally also bring our costs down and increase our contribution ratio when the same 'motor' can be used for all markets,' he added.
The takeover of the B&O operation in Australia will result in more B&O products being launched. In recent weeks the company in partnership with Samsung have launched a new mobile phone called Serene.
Click to enlarge
Serene consists of two parts that are tied together by an aluminium hinge. The display and microphone are placed in the lower shell in a landscape orientation and the circular keyboard and loudspeaker is placed in the upper shell with an elegant thumb operated wheel in the middle taking care of all primary operations.
Serene comes with a triangular charger/docking station made in polished anodized aluminium with a cut-out for the phone. If the phone is placed in the docking station or the phone is used in a table mode it can be used as a mini-laptop as the display can turn 180 degrees.
Also available is a DECT docking which enables Serene to synchronise its phonebook with the domestic cordless Bang & Olufsen phone range.