on the board 'Plenty of growth to grab'

Algint Ltd managing director Adrian Green discusses the re-emergence of vinyl and turntable brand Dual’s insistence on finding the right channel to market

What’s your career background? I began my career in Hong Kong in 1995. Fresh out of University in Spring 1995, I went over for six months - which became eight years! Working for one of the largest OEM audio manufacturers, making own label products for retailers globally, we did a lot of business with Dixons, Comet, Littlewoods and Argos in particular. The factory was also the largest subcontract manufacturer of Awia, Sony’s B brand back in the 90s. I certainly cut my teeth over there, learning a lot about Far East manufacturing. Upon returning to the UK in 2002, I joined

Binatone Electronics, as UK sales and then product director for nine years, selling a full range of consumer electronics to pretty much every retailer in the UK. Having been at the supply chain end for many years it was another education being at the consumer end of the market! Five years ago, I set up my own company to help support companies from outside the UK launch their products over here, acting as their local office, finding distributors and sales teams, and handling the marketing side as well. That’s how I came into contact with the Dual team.

Tell us a bit about Dual. Dual has a leading place in the history of audio and in turntables particularly. Back in the 70s and 80s it was the leading brand in Europe, renowned for its quality and innovation. Unfortunately, as cassette and then CD

grew rapidly the turntable market disappeared somewhat. In Europe, its resurgence started earlier, but in the UK, it’s taken us longer to restart the business, struggling to find the right partners or the right fit to work with.

What makes you stand out from your competitors? There is a two-fold approach. There are those customers who remember the brand and are glad to buy back into its history. Additionally, there is a whole new generation of audiophiles who would never have heard of Dual, so when launching we had to address both markets. As such, we have brought a range of products which retain the Dual reputation for quality and sound, but are at price points which can enable us to re-enter at both levels. When you play with the units I think you’ll

be surprised at the sound quality versus the retail price.

Why was the decision made to relaunch in the UK? With Europe almost completely covered, the UK was the only remaining market not penetrated. A lot of it was to do with finding the right partner. We’re relatively late to the market compared to other brands, but there is no point in coming to market if the channel partner isn’t correct. We identified the independent channels to start with, as this is where we felt Dual’s original customer base would be shopping. Then it was about who is the right partner

for getting us in there and after meeting the Big Red Sales team, the timing was perfect. They had a gap in their product portfolio for a turntable brand, and the price points fitted to where they wanted to start.

What do you think has been behind the vinyl revival in the UK market? All markets are looking for the next big thing. Every year when I attend CES in Las Vegas, the TV companies are trying something to regenerate the market – 4K, UHD, 3D, this year it was QLED… The audio market is the same. The difference is that the quality of sound reproduction has deteriorated, as downloads onto phones being played back on cheap Bluetooth speakers meant the market for quality reproduction had been starved. You have some very high end download devices from Astell & Kern but those are out of the pocket of most people. Vinyl holds an almost romantic appeal; the

Dual has relaunched in the UK with products including its MTR 75 turntable, aiming to reach younger listeners as well as those familiar with the brand’s heritage

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nakedness of the music in its best form has created a market which seven or eight years ago people were almost reading the last rites for. We are now seeing parents getting their old vinyl out, kids hearing it and hearing the

purity and quality. In turn, with mass retailers including Tesco and Sainsbury’s adding it to their music offering, it has resulted in kids coming into stores and wanting to experience the same quality.

Any advice for retailers on making the most of the market? The market has grown on the back of a lot of cheap introduction products, turntable bundles with records, bringing the category to the millennials you could say. However, these consumers will at some stage want to upgrade from their cheaper devices to better quality brands. It’s a natural progression we all go through and especially as we get older and disposable income increases - we want to improve our listening experience. It was the same with CD – most of us started off with boomboxes, then progressed to dedicated CD drives with separate speakers or all in one systems. Turntables will see the same upgrade path as well, and Dual is the perfect brand to do this with.

What is the outlook for the market? I expect growth to continue for the next five to 10 years, although certainly not at the pace it has been the last few years. As the cheaper units get upgraded, their life will be longer because of the superior build quality. We must be realistic, it will never be at the numbers it was in its heyday, but it will remain a healthy market for the foreseeable future with nice value attached to it. Only last month vinyl outsold downloads in one week, for the first time ever - that tells you we still have plenty of growth to grab!

February 2017

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