NEWS: Sound United negotiate Bowers & Wilkins acquisition

gibbsy

Moderator
Sound United, rapidly becoming the Volkswagen Group of the audio world. Wouldn't that make it company number five in their portfolio.
 

RichardG

Active Member
Formally resurrecting the B&W / Classe partnership that was very successful previously, so this could be good news for high end 2 channel fans.

Be good to give Naim/Focal some competition.
 

fordster

Standard Member
Will they fix the ridiculous pricing and lack of features that blight the Formation series? I’d likely be in the market for Formation Duo if it didn’t cost so much and then need £700 stands and a subscription to Roon to make the best use of them.

Perhaps a fire sale of some of the recent products and then get back to making high quality speakers?
 

Dunners

Active Member
Boston Acoustics, Polk, Definitive Technology and now (possibly) B&W.
That's a lot of speaker brands to run with.

I guess if they get them cheap enough they can strip the assets and sell it on for a profit.
Or.
Turn it around.


Whatever private equity firms do.
 

Cliff

Distinguished Member
Boston Acoustics, Polk, Definitive Technology and now (possibly) B&W.
That's a lot of speaker brands to run with.

I guess if they get them cheap enough they can strip the assets and sell it on for a profit.
Or.
Turn it around.


Whatever private equity firms do.
I was thinking the same thing. When companies have several brands, it is very likely we will see ‘Streamlining‘. That could mean similar insides, drivers and crossovers. Hopefully, the speakers will retain their differences and we won’t see the same speaker with different badges on them.
 

tickedon

Active Member
I was thinking the same thing. When companies have several brands, it is very likely we will see ‘Streamlining‘. That could mean similar insides, drivers and crossovers. Hopefully, the speakers will retain their differences and we won’t see the same speaker with different badges on them.
Nah, they'll have different badges *and* a different casing!

Ultimately all depends what they want to do with it. B&W's Formation wireless speaker tech was going to have problems competing on its own, making it work as part of HEOS for example would create a bigger market for B&W products and simultaneously make that ecosystem more attractive against the likes of Sonos etc.

There will be obvious efficiencies in the marketing / partnerships / retailer relationships side as part of a larger group, just depends if they start to think they can make similar moves in the manufacturing / R&D / tech / design side.
 

steveb99

Novice Member
My B&W products are superb (headphones/speakers/zeppelin) but I think you could spot the corporate mess. The Formation brand looks a mistake. The Wedge is in a very awkward place price wise half way between a Sonos Play 5 and a Naim Mu-so and thus falls between two stools. The sound bar without HDMI is also against the current market for that type of product. And I am not sure who would buy the large wireless speakers for that price when a streamer/amps such as the NAD M10 are so compact and leave change for a great pair of speakers for the same price. Hopefully they will get focus back. My P9 headphones and the Zeppelin were not cheap but justified for the performance levels. Let’s hope that kind of product will come through again.
 

steviedr

Distinguished Member
when they launched the formation everyone said the same thing, lack of hdmi therefore no arc, no remote and a grand for the privilege... what did they really think was going to happen, it was never going to compete.
Look at the comments after Steve’s review, one saying they will be one day left behind the competition...
Hoping they will survive as the sound produced is fantastic
 
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THX1138UK

Well-known Member
Sounds United will bring economies of scale and the benefits of a shared corporate function if they acquire B&W.

Whilst it will bolster the brand, bring in new development & manufacturing techniques and perhaps lead to more sales, it will probably mean a reduction of admin & sales jobs at B&W, unfortunately.

Just tends to be the way these things happen. Hope it’s not too disruptive to the existing business while things get sorted out.


Regards,
James.
 

Ruffuz

Well-known Member
Will they fix the ridiculous pricing and lack of features that blight the Formation series? I’d likely be in the market for Formation Duo if it didn’t cost so much and then need £700 stands and a subscription to Roon to make the best use of them.

Perhaps a fire sale of some of the recent products and then get back to making high quality speakers?

 

JohnnyNapalm

Active Member
Some things need to be left alone. The American business model does not take into account it’s employees or listen the the input they can give in my experience. B&W will become diluted imo.
 

big boss

Well-known Member
Some things need to be left alone. The American business model does not take into account it’s employees or listen the the input they can give in my experience. B&W will become diluted imo.
From what I know from Sound United's past is that they're not into asset stripping. B&W has been in trouble ever since it agreed to be sold to Eva automation which didn't work. It wouldn't have survived on its own for too long.
 

THX1138UK

Well-known Member
Some things need to be left alone. The American business model does not take into account it’s employees or listen the the input they can give in my experience. B&W will become diluted imo.
I know absolutely nothing about the specifics of B&W current situation. So below is just an illustration of what often happens in business without the anti-American bias...

An otherwise profitable company looks to be taken over when they have a large debt, that they are unable to finance (often owning to circumstances beyond their control). Often creditors and banks threaten them with winding-up (insolvency) orders if they don’t do something radical within a set time scale.

Any company (other than an aggressive asset striper) that considers taking them over does so because it believes it can restructure the debt and return the acquired company to sustainable profit.

Based on past company acquisitions by Sounds United, there’s nothing to suggest they are an asset striper. On the contrary, their aim is to grow the brands they have acquired.

While it may seem cathartic to point the finger at the big bad Americans, all companies exist to make a profit and some of the British Private Equity restructuring companies are notoriously ruthless and treat employees terribly.

Regards,
James.
 
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JohnnyNapalm

Active Member
big boss & THX1138UK I really hope you are both correct as B&W are a leading British brand but I remain cynical. Only time will tell. Please note that I am not at all anti American. I just want to keep certain things British and support our economy. Britain first.
:thumbsup:
 

Dunners

Active Member
From what I know from Sound United's past is that they're not into asset stripping. B&W has been in trouble ever since it agreed to be sold to Eva automation which didn't work. It wouldn't have survived on its own for too long.
The over arching failure within the Sound United stable would have to be Boston Acoustics... what became of a brand that used to go 'okay' in the States and have a presence in car audio circles?
Now they may be looking to B&W to really focus / switch into the OEM car audio market (home audio markets are shrinking at a rate of knots)... But where would that leave home theatre / music enthusiasts?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I've had dealings with Sounds United over a Marantz warranty problem. Can't fault their customer services.
 

fordster

Standard Member
I saw those, but they are ex demo (although nothing wrong with that, bought some of my gear that way). But that needs to be the RRP (or somewhere close) with a working app that streams Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, etc without having to buy Roon. Otherwise it is just an overpriced glorified Apple Airplay/Bluetooth speaker.

As others have said the entire Formation lineup has been a mistake. No HDMI on the sound bar, no inputs on the formation duo, etc. Plus the silly pricing. B&W is a premium brand and in the past has been worth the money charged but not currently (at least for these products). From a quick demo in John Lewis (so less than ideal by a long way) I actually thought the Formation Wedge sounded better than the Naim Muso (and the previous Zeppelin against the previous Muso)!

I’m a big B&W fan, I own a pair of CM1s which I love and have always aspired to the 800 series (never going to happen but possibly 700 next year). I’d really hate to see them go under or see them lose their identity and just become a badge for whatever a large (on hifi terms) conglomerate churns out.
 

big boss

Well-known Member
The over arching failure within the Sound United stable would have to be Boston Acoustics... what became of a brand that used to go 'okay' in the States and have a presence in car audio circles?
Now they may be looking to B&W to really focus / switch into the OEM car audio market (home audio markets are shrinking at a rate of knots)... But where would that leave home theatre / music enthusiasts?
Sound United acquired Boston Acoustics by virtue of taking over D&M holdings who owned the brand. They were clearly more interested in Denon and Marantz. But this time, they want to acquire B&W, not another big parent company holding several brands in its portfolio. Big difference in circumstances.
 

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