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Contractor audio has a new number one
Hills have acquired Audio Products Group (APG), an Australian and New Zealand supplier of professional audio products, for A$15 million. APG will now join the roster of Hills audio brands in one greatly expanded distribution firm known simply as Hills.
Hills and APG both operated heavily in the contractor and consultant audio market, with that market responsible for as much as 80% of APG’s turnover last year. Both firms effectively sell to the same accounts, although Hills have wider distribution as they recently meshed the Antenna & TV Systems business plus Lan1, together with SVL into one company – Hills.
APG was established in 1998 by Ken Dwyer. He acquired the distribution business known as AWA, which had many decades experience and which had evolved into a contracting audio distributor. Ken in turn had extensive experience in hi-fi sales, owning Sydney Hi-Fi. Last year APG quit hi-fi distribution to focus on professional audio.
Hills now have inherited a pro-audio focused management team, assuming they retain the majority of the APG experts. Hills lost many of the SVL team over the past two years as they consolidated three firms into the master company and rationalised duplication.
Some brand losses will happen – Hills have Renkus Heinz, L-Acoustic and Turbosound loudspeakers while APG have Tannoy – which shares ownership with Lab Gruppen. AKG and Beyer Dynamic microphones will not coexist well together, but Crestron and Biamp could.
APG bring Aiphone, which is the leading commercial and residential intercom brand along with TOA – another strong APG performer. How TOA sits with Hills house brand Australian Monitor remains to be seen.
The new entity lacks a digital audio mixer brand which constrains any expansion into live sound which is a logical growth area, being responsible for as little as 20% of current sales.
Most importantly for Hills, they have retained Ken Dwyer for now, and he is uniquely equipped to guide the merged audio division. Industry commentary on the acquisition was cautious, with few prepared to speak publicly.
Ken told CX that APG will continue to operate as it does currently for the immediate future, and that he is excited at the opportunities ahead for his APG colleagues and for himself.
Hills had turnover of A$1.018 billion in 2013, and employs 815 staff across 48 offices. APG has 46 staff in Australia, and 5 in New Zealand.
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