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Interview – Building a Peerless portfolio

Installation Staff 16 April 2010

Following a 2009 merger, BBG-Peerless is continuing to enhance its offer to both consumer and professional markets. The company’s latest launch is a four-tier line of cables and interconnects designed by Ray Phillips and Jim Edwards, and intended to satisfy the rapidly developing demand for 3D TV. MD Gordon Dutch spoke to IE Residential about this significant new product line and the long-term future for BBG-Peerless.

How did you come to be heading up BBG, and what were the key stages in the company’s development prior to the merger with Peerless in 2009?

After leaving college, I went into law for a while before leaving that to play in a rock band – much to my parents’ dismay! Subsequently, I worked for a TV retailer before going into car audio, which was a really booming industry in the 1980s and 1990s. BBG was initially formed as a specialist in-car distributor, but in the mid-90s we began to move into the home audio and pro market. Subsequently, we took on exclusive UK distribution for Vogel’s and worked with them for about seven years, during which time we took the brand from pretty much no turnover in the UK to being one of the country’s biggest.

Having parted company with Vogel’s last year, we were able to explore a number of approaches from bracket manufacturers, and it became clear that the best fit was with Peerless. It’s a privately owned, significantly sized company that does a large majority of its manufacturing in-house in the US. We began working with Peerless in March 2009 and then, two months later, we physically merged the businesses, as a result of which I am VP of retail in America and MD of UK Peerless and Peerless-AV Europe.

What are the principal advantages of the merged operation?

The first major benefit is scale – we are now part of a company with 500 employees and significant turnover. We also have a range of products that do things that others haven’t even thought of. Secondly, you couldn’t really want for a better bloke to [build our presence] in Europe than our ops director, Derrik Lam; he joined Peerless as an engineer, before going on to become head of engineering, then head of product management, as well as having worked with manufacturing, QC, marketing and virtually all other areas within Peerless. He’s done it all!

Thirdly, we are now able to develop and manufacture products in a very short time frame. By way of example, we were recently approached to make a short-throw projector arm for one of our bigger pro customers, who needed 20,000 units. We designed, approved, manufactured and shipped the product in just five weeks from the original expression of interest. Finally, we are now able to use [the platform provided by Peerless] as a springboard into Europe, as a result of which we can call on a warehouse in the Netherlands for European orders, while the UK warehouse can be used for UK and Europe, as required.

The new cables/interconnects range is designed to help installers get ready for 3D TV. What is your feeling on the short-term future for 3D?

The rise of 3D has helped to increase the demand for smaller and slimline brackets, so as a result of that we have just launched our own range on the back of having proper 3D-capable cables. If you look at what Sky has done in the UK, with a 3D deployment in more than 1,000 pubs, it is clear that there is a massive potential for this technology. We will be launching more products with relevance to 3D, but I can’t say anything else about that yet!

What are your main objectives for the rest of this year?

Basically, the plan is to make sure that people are aware of our scale, size and product offering. We are number one or two in virtually every vertical in US and European pro markets, so we are in a great position. We are a serious player and we can turn ’round new products in good timeframes. We also have the significant advantage of back-up in Europe, which Peerless never had before.

Gordon Dutch was speaking to David Davies.

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