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Sound United Tipped To Move To Subsidiary Model Battle With Harman & Klipsch Looms

A battle royale is set to break out in the sound market in 2021 with Sound United the owner of Denon, Polk Audio, Marantz, Definitive Technology, HEOS, Classé, and Boston Acoustics and recently classic UK speaker brand Bowers & Wilkins tipped enter the Australian market with their own subsidiary.

Insiders have told ChannelNews that a decision could be made by Sound United by as early as January 2021 with a new operation taking effect from mid 2021.

Sound United already employs Gopal Govindram in Country as Manager Oceania they also have Phil Newton the CEO of Bowes & Wilkins Australia as a local executive both are seasoned executives.

Newton was the former Vice President of Samsung and was in line to become the CEO of Samsung prior to walking out on the South Korean Company who also own Harman International the owners of the JBL and Harman Kardon brands.

The move would see Harman go head-to-head with Sound United and Klipsch, it would also result in several distributors such as Westan, Qualifi and Westan as well as Convoy losing brands to the subsidiary operation.

Last week Klipsch Group gave Qualifi 90 days’ notice of termination a move that has “infuriated” some retailers not because it happened but because the US Company engaged with staff employed at Qualifi to not only be disloyal to their current employers but breach their employment contracts to line their own pockets, a move that could see one of these former executives sued for breach of contract in Australian Courts.

Evidence has also been obtained that the Qualifi executive was hawking his services to other distributors claiming that he could deliver both the Marantz and Denon brands as well as Klipsch if he was employed on a large contract.

This information alone could see the executive sued for damages.

He eventually commenced negotiations with the Klipsch Group.

Among the executives who collaborated with Klipsch Group prior to Qualifi being given notice was former Yamaha executive Phil Hawkins who has already resigned.

Soul Mates, Peter Shanoon left, Sales Manager at Qualifi with Vinny Bonacorsi Vice President at Klipsch Group (Picture from Shanoon WhatsApp messaging account).

Current Qualifi Sales Manager Peter Shanoon a former Harvey Norman executive who despite calling himself a “honest family man” has admitted to ChannelNews that he is moving to Klipsch and that he collaborated with the Company prior to Qualifi being terminated, this is despite telling ChannelNews that he has not yet signed a contract with the US audio Company.

He told ChannelNews that he openly engaged with Klipsch Group during the past months as he “did not see a future” at Qualifi. (A bigger story about what went on behind the scenes is coming later this week”.

The battle between the three big US audio Companies, Sound United which is a portfolio company of Boston-based private equity firm Charlesbank Capital Partners, Harman International a Samsung Subsidiary and Klipsch Group a division of VOXX International is tipped to kick start an audio war with retailers such as JB Hi Fi, The Good Guys and Harvey Norman offered new brands as well as brands that have been exclusive to select retailers in the past.

Currently Klipsch products are only sold by Harvey Norman while Polk products are sold by JB Hi Fi, the battle will initially be around soundbars, network speakers and headphones and buds.

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