Audio Products Group acquired by Hills
AUSTRALIA: New South Wales-based distributor Audio Products Group (APG) has been acquired by Hills, the parent company behind Australian Monitor and competing distributor Hills SVL. According to an official announcement, the purchase is intended to position Hills as ‘the leading player in the supply of specialised audio products in Australia and New Zealand’.
The deal affects a number of APG represented brands including Lab.gruppen – represented by Hills SVL prior to February 2014. Others include Toa, AKG and Biamp. Hills SVL currently represents MediaMatrix, Rane, Renkus Heinz, Mipro, Turbosound and many more.
APG was established in 1996 by well-known industry figure Ken Dwyer. Speaking to Pro Audio Asia following the announcement, Mr Dwyer outlined the history behind the purchase. ‘Hills SVL and APG have been long term competitors so we are well known to each other,’ he explained. ‘I was approached by Ted Pretty, Brad Newton and Matt Old some months ago. Mr Pretty outlined their vision for a company focused on “technology for buildings”, and it resonated with me. I ultimately decided that this could offer an exciting future for APG with potential benefits for our people, suppliers and customers if the vision is fully implemented.’
Regarding the effect that the change in ownership could have on APG and the potential for personnel changes, Mr Dwyer added: ‘Hills have purchased the shares in APG. Other than that there is no change in the business. Of course personnel changes are a continuing part of any dynamic business but there are no specific changes planned at APG that I am aware of. It’s very much business as usual. We have a great team and I think the acquisition acknowledges that.’
Nor is Mr Dwyer expecting any change regarding the brands his company represents. ‘I have been speaking with all our suppliers since Friday and overall the change in ownership appears to be understood. APG intends to continue to do what we do and I think our suppliers understand that and are supportive. We are fortunate to have such great brands with strong personal relationships so I think we will just continue to work together.’
From Hills’ point of view, the deal has been described by chief operating officer, Brad Newton, as ‘consistent with Hills’ revenue growth strategy via acquisition. It will help us consolidate the market-leading position that we have established in audiovisual in recent years’. A week prior to the APG announcement, the company’s New Zealand-based subsidiary, Hills Electronic Security, acquired Auckland-based Intek Security Group.
Mr Newton continued: ‘APG provides Hills with specialist audio expertise and exclusivity to a number of market leading brands which will complement our existing audiovisual businesses. The combined Hills and APG businesses will bring major benefits to customers including a larger account management team, improved technical support, customer service and a single company for access to audiovisual products from the world’s best brands. Customers will be able to go to Hills and get the very best in audio, including key APG brands such as Biamp, Aiphone and Lab.gruppen as well as key Hills SVL brands including Crestron, L-Acoustics, Samsung, Hitachi, beyerdynamic and Australian Monitor’.
Regarding similarities in terms of product range between some of the brands, Mr Newton commented: ‘Whilst we agree there are some brands who have similar products we believe these products are already well established in the market. Our intention is to leverage the scale APG brings to grow sales of all of our brands.
‘It will be business as usual during the transition phase. We expect the transition will be extremely smooth and customers won’t even notice the difference.’
Mr Dwyer concluded: ‘Even though APG has always been financially quite strong, having an even stronger parent company might allow us to raise the ceiling a little in terms of what we can do in areas like training, technical and customer support. These areas are increasingly vital in our business. It’s exciting.’