Back in the summer of 2008, US-based venture capital company Bain Capital purchased Japan-based D&M Holdings (which, by that time, owned Calrec and Allen & Heath alongside Denon and Marantz). D&M Holdings did business in three primary categories: automobile after market audio, consumer audio and professional audio. But Bain’s main focus was the consumer division, so the company made the decision to sell the professional brands and dedicate its focus at consumer. While Calrec and A&H went to Electra, the professional Marantz and Denon brands were purchased by Jack O’Donnell’s inMusic. Paul Jenkins, vice president Denon Professional-Marantz Professional (above), explains what happens now...
What do the inMusic acquisition mean for the brands?
Paul Jenkins: inMusic acquired Denon Professional and Marantz Professional in 2014. These brands came to inMusic with an existing stable of products, conceived, designed and manufactured overseas. Those existing product line-ups were not necessarily complete or market-coherent. On the contrary, frankly, they were an incomplete range, missing key units, and not having a clear market position or direction. High-quality products when considered [in their own right], but without clearly identified goals.
Obviously, to start with, inMusic has “played the hand it was dealt,” so to speak, and we’ve worked on selling the existing products to current Denon Pro and Marantz Pro accounts.
As the inMusic ownership of these brands has begun to take hold, however, we’re jumping on conceiving and designing the next generation of products for both brands. InMusic has extensive in-house marketing, engineering, industrial design capabilities and these resources have been brought to bear on performing competitive product/market analysis, identifying product opportunities, designing new products from both a performance and appearance standpoint, and then working with first-rate, engineering-supportive overseas contract manufacturers to get the new models produced and delivered.
This is an ongoing process: the next year or two will see almost an entire changeover from older product to brand-new products, conceived and designed by inMusic.
What defines the differences between the Denon and Marantz brands now?
Denon Professional (DP) offers a full line of AV playback/recording/signal distribution equipment and speakers for the commercial sound and installation market. Restaurants, clubs, hotels, education…. Our professional installer base also serves the higher end of the residential home theatre and whole-house AV market, but our core market is the commercial user. DP sells to the installer market, not to the online or brick-and-mortar consumer retailer market.
Marantz Professional (MP) is quite separate from DP. MP will concentrate on the recording market, with a wide range of product offerings such as all types of microphones and recording accessories spanning the range from consumer to professional. MP will also offer rack-mount audio player/recorders, portable AC/battery-powered PA speakers and a full range of self-powered recording studio monitor speakers. MP supports any products needed by the amateur-to-professional recording market, and it will be sold through more traditional end-user retailers, as opposed to DP, which is an installer-to-commercial-user sales model.
Would you agree that DP and MP have been somewhat neglected in recent times, and that the profile of those brands has slipped?
Perhaps these brands have been a bit neglected, but we’ve found that there is an incredible reservoir of brand recognition, brand equity and acceptance/demand for their products. InMusic is a private company and we don’t publicise sales figures, but suffice to say that every new product that inMusic has developed for these brands has met with tremendous success.
There are products where we’ve sold entire production runs in the blink of an eye. These goods represent a combination of build quality, product performance, brand reputation/history and ‘clean sheet’ marketing/sales opportunity for both us and our partners that is absolutely unmatched by any other lines in the business. [At inMusic] we look at DP and MP as once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and we are extremely confident of taking full advantage.
What are the key strategies or products we are going to see from the brands?
Denon Professional will put a strong focus on – but not limited to – professional install source and capture products. CD, audio playback devices, SD and CD recorders. Additionally we will enter the portable PA, ceiling speaker and audio solutions segments.
Marantz Professional will primary focus on its true roots: portable capture and broadcast products. We will also branch off into studio products, security video capture and a limited line of install source products.
What territories/markets needed to be addressed immediately?
We are up to full speed in the North American market with the addition last year of an experienced electronics industry sales/marketing veteran whose sole focus and responsibility is DP and MP. He leads a dedicated team of in-house sales/marketing/engineering people and directly oversees our in-field sales rep organisations. We have also have just recently addressed the critical UK/Benelux market with the hire of new key sales/marketing personnel. Wide-open, target-rich markets just waiting to be served by professional, attentive sales and marketing efforts are now being served. We’re well past the low-hanging fruit and we’re rapidly climbing the tree
Where are the brands going to be in three years?
We fully expect DP and MP to have leadership positions in their respective market slots, both from a raw “numbers” standpoint and even more importantly, from a visibility/”mind share” standpoint. There is tremendous upside potential for both of these brands. We have the sales/marketing teams in place, we have the design/engineering resources mobilised and we have the marketplace partners identified and active. Three years from now, the industry will wonder what hit them.