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Convoy International Under Pressure Following The Splitting Of Bluesound Distribution

Serious questions are being raised after Convoy International were not appointed to sell Bluesound into the fast-growing professional and commercial markets in Australia, instead, the business has gone to distributor Connected Media Australia.

Several custom installers have told ChannelNews that they see this as a major blow for the Sydney based distributor and that they would consider a switch from recommending the Convoy Bluesound offering to the new Pro Bluesound offering for large custom install jobs if the products are different from the consumer Bluesound products.

One Melbourne based custom installer said “I do not believe that the splitting of the brand in a small market such as Australia is smart however Convoy are struggling, and they don’t have a sales director,” said one Melbourne retailer.

Gary Tye former sales director and General Manager, at Convoy

“Back in 2010 Convey appointed Melbourne based Gary Tye as national sales director but after a falling out with Convoy he parted company with Convoy and ever since then Bluesound range of products have suffered from sales representation”.

“There only saviour would be if the Lenbrook Group owners of the Bluesound brand prevented Connected Media from selling to custom installers in the residential market” they added.

While Convoy still has the Bluesound consumer business the brand has been struggling up against a similar 24bit offering from Melbourne based distributor Qualifi who distribute the Denon Heos range of 24bit voice activated networked products across both the specialist audio channel and the mass retail channel via Harvey Norman.

Installers are also still recommending 16bit Sonos networked speakers over Bluesound products because of the ease by which they can be installed into a Control 4 system.

The move to Connected Media was made after Lenbrook International the owners of the Bluesound brand established a brand new division run by Graeme Harrison, Vice-President and General Manager of Bluesound Professional, this division is seen as a major growth market for Lenbrook who in choosing Connected Media Australia in Australia have moved to go after the more lucrative commercial and professional install market.

A key executive in Connected Media Australia is Ken Dwyer who built Audio Products Australia to be a major audio and CI distributor before the business was sold to Melbourne-based Qualifi, arch-rival to Convoy.

ChannelNews understands that several distributors have targeted Convoy brands following the sudden death of Convoy International founder Geoff Mathews.

At the recent Munich Hi-Fi show, several brands distributed by Convoy held meetings with other Australian distributors who had expressed interest in selling the Convoy brands with one of those distributors claiming that they were confident that they will secure one of the Convoy brands.

Since 2015 when the Company reported an 8% increase in sales to $56.7M and losses of $735,857 Convoy has spiralled downwards losing Bowers and Wilkins, JBL, Monster, Solo 3DR Done, Beats Headphones along with several other major brands.

The losses piled up and in 2017 when Gary Tye parted Company with Convoy the Company was struggling to restructure with losses believed to be over $4M.

When Harman moved to establish a direct subsidiary in Australia in 2017, they appointed Convoy as their technical and spare parts provider for Harman Kardon and JBL Lifestyle Division Products in Australia. Earlier this year Harman moved the business out of Convoy to Sydney based QSL as their new logistic partner.

During this period Convoy were also forced to downsize their warehousing operations.

The new Connected Media operation will sell Bluesound Professional in its curated supplier group.

The company has bases in Sydney and Wellington.

Connected Media General Manager Gerrit Ryan said Bluesound Professional offered “unparalleled” flexibility to commercial installers.

Bluesound is a division of the Lenbrook Group of companies that includes NAD Electronics and PSB Speakers, both of which are also distributed by Convoy.

Bluesound Professional and its BluOS operating system are designed to offer easily installed and integrated multi-zone audio playback in commercial spaces like retailers, hotels, gyms and bars.

Users can connect and control streaming services, internet radio, or networked hard drives, among other sources, in high-resolution and MQA audio quality.

The Bluesound Professional range features a choice of streamers and amplifiers to pair with its speakers and wall-mount controller.

The line-up is expected to go on sale later this year.

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