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EXCLUSIVE:Questions Raised About B&O’s Future & Aqipa

Serious questions are being raised about the future of the Bang & Olufsen brand in Australia, along with the future management of their distributor Aqipa.

ChannelNews understands that a review of Melbourne based Aqipa’s operations, who have been selling Bang & Olufsen products on consignment at David Jones and Myer is currently under way, with management from the Austrian owners currently undertaking an assessment of the Companies viability in Australia.

Recently Bang & Olufsen announced that the Company was up for sale this saw the Danish Companies share value climb 15%, only for it to fall back to only be up 2.14% at the weekend after no bidders emerged.

This year the share value of B&O has fallen 50% with many investors blaming a “disastrous” attempt to get into the mass headphone and portable sound markets.

At IFA in Berlin recently the emphasis was on a new stylised B&O soundbar and networked speaker.

ChannelNews was recently told that one retailer who took delivery of what he thought was new Bang & Olufsen products discovered that the goods still had David Jones stickers on the product after the department store returned B&O stock that they were unable to sell.

We have also been told that a re-entry into the premium TV market in Australia has been put on hold. The category which has been a contributor to the Companies losses was driven initially by direct sales via Bang & Olufsen stores and later specialist dealers in Australia.

At this stage It’s not clear that B&O, has any potential suitors, at IFA we were told that several Asian Companies have looked at the Danish Company but at this stage no offers have been made.

Chairman Ole Andersen said recently “If we were to get an approach, then we’ll listen, but it would naturally also need to be discussed with the shareholders. We’re obligated to do that,” Andersen said.

Per Hansen, an investment economist at Nordnet in Copenhagen, said in a note to clients that “B&O’s challenge lies first and foremost in the fact that it can’t react fast enough and that it still has a high cost base.”

Andersen recently admitted that B&O had fallen behind in product launches some say because of a lack of R&D capital.

He also acknowledged that management had faced “considerable challenges” in pushing through the necessary changes to the sales and distribution network.
Recently German TV brand Loewe announced that the Company had been placed into administration however ChannelNews understands after attending IFA that a brand-new range of Loewe branded TVs and audio gear will be launched in 2020 by a new entity that now owns the rights to the Loewe brand name.

Neither Aqipa nor Bang & Olufsen have commented for this story.

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