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Dead European Audio Brands Bought Back To Life In OZ

By David Richards | Tuesday | 16/07/2013

After losing access to a European brand name, the answer for one Australian consumer electronics distributor is to go and pull down another European brand and continue selling cheap made in China products dressed up to look like a European brand which in its heyday stood for quality.

Founded in 1923 in Berlin Blaupunkt was acquired by Robert Bosch AG in 1933.  In 1938 it changed its name to "Blaupunkt", German for "blue point" or "blue dot", after the blue dot painted onto its headphones indicated that had passed quality control.

By the 1960 and 1970s, Blaupunkt had become one of the leading German manufacturer for car radios and car audio equipment. 

In Australia consumers purchased Blaupunkt car radio. TV's and sound systems. All of these products were designed in Germany and made in Germany.

Today the Blaupunkt brand name has nothing to do with Robert Bush or the design teams that the brand famous. In Australia Chinese Company Chengdu Geeya who own Bush Australia is trying to market the brand as a replacement brand for Grundig.

This is akin to Coles or Woolworths selling Asia grown food as Australian.

The Chinese owned Company was originally known as Bush Australia they then changed their name to Grundig now they are having a stab at marketing the Blaupunkt brand in Australia in an effort to generate additional margin because of its European heritage.

Back in 2004 Grundig Australia Pty Ltd was an insolvent Company now it is a subsidiary of Bush Australia an organisation that specialises in marketing brands dressed up around old brand names that once had credibility in the market.

The question for the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission is whether this is misleading as the product is Blaupunkt in name only. It has not been designed by the German Company or made by the German that once operated in Australia a fact that Bush is trying to capitalise on to attract sales. The Company making the products has no audio heritage similar to what the likes of JBL, Harman Kardon or Marantz deliver today, or what Blaupunkt delivered in the past.

Bush, Grundig and Blaupunkt were at one time prestige brands in Australia today several Chinese Companies are flogging Blaupunkt branded products to anyone who will buy them.

Known for their high quality car radio's a visit to the Chinese web site alibaba.com reveals that several Companies in Pakistan and China are now flogging Blaupunkt products as long as you order 1000 pieces or by the pallet load. 

In 2006 Daniel Todd was hired to restructure a distributor that back then was the Australian division of Alba Plc., today that Company is now owned by Chinese Company Chengdu Geeya. He restored sustainability to the insolvent Australian company, Grundig Australia Pty Ltd flogging products wrapped around a European brand.

He was responsible for the operations of the company, including the development and implementation of growth strategy, introducing new brands and technologies into the market including the use of brands such as Bush and Grundig to sell made in China products in their thousands.

According to Todd during his tenure at the Company he regularly prepared reports, budgets and forecasts on the Australian operation for presentation to the Harvard International CEO of Chengdu Geeya and the board of Directors in China.

 Under his management the local distributor expanded their business 191% flogging Chinese products branded as iLuv, Grundig and Bush. 

Bush Australia ceased distributing the Grundig brand in March, the brand is now owned by The Arcelik Group who also own the Turkish brand Beko.

Jim Parissis, who was the former marketing manager at JVC Company a Company that struggled to get traction globally and was finally merged with another struggling Japanese Company Kenwood has been hired in an attempt to replace the Grundig brand with a made in China Blaupunkt product range spanning audio and display products.

 The Company believes that using a known European brand name allows them to sell a product at a premium price over a Chinese branded product.  

 Bush Australia introduced the first Blaupunkt AV range late in 2012 alongside their Bush and iLuv brands. A search online for Grundig takes users to the Blaupunkt site. 

Parissis said recently "We are revisiting how we will communicate Bush's transition from Grundig to Blaupunkt to customers. Blaupunkt AV products are licensed by Bush Australia, which is a similar arrangement to what we had with Grundig".

He said that the Grundig website is now owned by Bush Australia, which is why they have repopulated the site with Blaupunkt content.

The new management team is now run by long time sales manager Brian Rogers who as CEO appear to be concentrating more on the Blaupunkt brand which is being ranged by several retailers including JB Hi Fi and Harvey Norman.

Rogers has not said whether the Company will attempt to pick up other "dead" European brands and sell them in Australia.

A search of web sites and retail stores in Germany, France and Holland where in their heyday Blaupunkt was a major brand has failed to reveal any of the same Blaupunkt products being sold in Australia.

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