Was The Ambertech Convoy Deal Done 12 Months Ago & What Now For Harman Brands?
The sale of struggling Sydney-based audio distributor Convoy International to share-listed Ambertech has been in the making for more than 18 months, with questions now being raised about the Harman Luxury Goods brands and whether they will be moved into a new distributor.
Convoy, a Company that was founded 40+ years ago, was struggling following the death of audio enthusiast Geoff Mathews, the founder of the business that had the rights to several key products from Canadian Company Lenbrook and Harman Luxury brands.
When his son David Mathews took over the business it followed the loss months earlier of Harman’s consumer brands JBL and Harman Kardon. The axing was sudden, leaving the Company with multimillion dollar losses.
Last week, Ambertech announced they had paid between $2.8m and $3m for Convoy International. ChannelNews understands this was primarily for aging stock that was sitting on Convoy International’s books.
Back in 2020, Canadian audio Company Lenbrook officially appointed Connected Media as the distributor of their Bluesound, NAD and PSB headphones for the Pro market in Australia. Some insiders claim this was a sign of the end for Convoy who had a lot invested in these brands which were primarily being sold into the residential custom-install market.
In 2021, Ambertech scooped up Connected Media along with the Lenbrook brands and insiders were telling ChannelNews it was only a matter of time before CM got the residential custom-install business from Lenbrook.
A key player in this deal was Ken Dwyer, the former owner of Connected Media who had a close relationship with Lenbrook from his days running Audio Products Group a business he merged with Melbourne-based distributor Qualifi that is now owned by Sound United. APG.
The merger saw APG’s consumer electronics and custom installation brands – NAD, PSB, Loewe, AKG, Tannoy, Niles, Elan, Sunfire and Xantech – join the existing range of Qualifi products that included the Sound United brands Marantz, Denon and Bowers & Wilkins. Other brands at the time included Jamo, ZVOX, Stealth Acoustics, MK and Forte.
When Ambertech, whose shares are currently up 8.06 per cent year to date, acquired Connected Media, “The writing was on the wall for Convoy. Ambertech had just raised $4M and were in better financial shape to go after the consumer side of the business held by Convoy,” Says one insider.
“One also has to raise questions as to why Convoy was struggling to supply stock. Was it because of a lack of cashflow or were other things in play? I would not be surprised if Ambertech suddenly has stock of Lenbrook products, whereas Convoy struggled.”
The big issue now is what will happen to the Harman Luxury Brands spanning JBL speakers Harman Arcam, JBL Synthesis, Lexicon, Mark Levinson and Revel.
These are simply some of the biggest names in high-end audio, which were going nowhere at Convoy with speculation rife they could well be placed with a new distributor in Australia.
At CES 2023, ChannelNews was shown several new HLB products with Marcus Fry, the Country Director for Harman, set to play a key role in where the stable of Harman Luxury brands end up, with Ambertech or a new distributor.
We have already been told several distributors have approached Harman during the past 18 months in an effort to try to get the Harman product distribution rights in Australia.