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Before Re-Sauce Part 5 – Be ahead of the Curve – Flat Panel TV

By Gordon Dutch

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Around this time, I had noticed the emergence of flat panel Plasma TV’s. In fact, we had sold a few under the Nakamichi brand, despite them being £15,000 for a 42” at the time! However, when it came to installing these TV’s, we noticed how few mounting options (mainly just flat to wall) were available from the TV manufacturers themselves and very few quality cables. At this time the digital cable known as HDMI was just launching and starting to take market share off of the older analogue SCART cable, due to its superior picture quality. Again just like with Nakamichi hang on the wall hifi, just like the i-pod, we recognised that flat panel TV was likely to become the next ‘big thing’ and so I gambled on opening up a dedicated BBG accessory division. We brought the first ever ‘universal’ flat panel wall mount into the UK that fitted virtually every flat panel TV on the market. I also sourced a range of longer length HDMI’s that allowed these TV’s to be mounted flat to the wall and still receive the best possible signal via the longer length HDMI.


Once again this proved to be an amazing success, as TV brands themselves were often out of stock of their own brand brackets and there was very little margin in a branded aftermarket accessory for the retailer, long time delays on stock etc... Whereas our product was fully colour packaged, fitted almost every TV on the market out of the box, had great margin and we were always in stock. So retailers and customers alike absolutely loved them.


As the flat panel market in the UK exploded, so did our sales of these universal flat panel tv and cables. We backed the sales up by again building high quality displays, creating compatibility guides to show the universal nature and most importantly created and provided some more high-quality sales training. Upsell, cross sell and attachment based on features and benefits. After all, if you could sell a fully articulating mount instead of a flat to wall one, the retailer could make at least three times more money from the sale. These trainings lead to us to become THE leading distributor of flat panel wall mounts and HDMI cables in the UK. 


Not content with brackets and cables, we also added a range of TV furniture, because if customers weren’t putting it on the wall, then they would normally need to buy some sort of TV stand, due to the much larger screen sizes that were now becoming the ‘norm’ in UK households. We were absolutely motoring, despite the recession looming.


As the business grew, I regularly attended the major CE shows such as CES in Las Vegas and IFA in Berlin. These shows proved invaluable in helping both source products and indeed sell them to our customers. Most of the buyers from the major UK retailers would travel to either CES or IFA (often both) and it was a great opportunity to spend time with them away from the office, which lead to building some really strong relationships that stood us in great stead later on in our journey.


It was around this time that BBG really started to gain traction with the larger electrical retailers. We had a large range of products being sold across Currys/Dixons group, Comet and many others. This included a company called Powerhouse, who were the probably the number 3 in the UK major electrical retailers of the time. During my years building up the various divisions and brands that BBG carried, I was lucky to meet some amazing people and have already mentioned the effect that the likes of Keith Peterson and Tom Lands had on our business. It was at this time I first met a guy called Chris Onslow. Chris was the CEO of Powerhouse at that point and later on became not only a great personal friend, but a fantastic mentor. To this day I still treasure his friendship and advice. 


Chris gave BBG the opportunity to range just about every product we had available at Powerhouse. In return BBG delivered a huge amount of sales and technical training to their team and indeed those of all our major retailers. It was a lot of hard work and early mornings and late nights. However off the back of this our sales at Powerhouse and many other retailers went through the roof. Unfortunately this was at a difficult time in the UK economy and so whilst our products were flying off the shelves at all these retailers, the banking crisis was looming on the horizon and Powerhouse became a victim of that, as indeed so did Comet a few years later. 


Attached a pic of just one of the hundreds of ‘in store sales trainings’ we gave to our retailers and a picture of one of our ‘designer TV stands’


Managing cashflow within this large growth against a very difficult economic situation was key to the business, especially as lending and customer insurance started to become more difficult. We had to be careful and know when and where to invest and so keeping tabs on all your customers financial results was highly important at that time and still is of course.


Despite all this and the recession, we were still growing fast and so what could possibly go wrong… Yep… you guessed it… Yet again one of our largest suppliers decided to come in direct. 


Having now experienced this a number of times, I decided it was time to take a different route… Read part 6 next week as I decide to sell BBG and merge into being part of a much larger US based manufacturer called Peerless.


If you need any help or assistance with expanding, diversifying or marketing your business, feel free to reach out and we will be only too pleased to assist.

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Here’s what our Industry Colleagues say about us...

Peerless-AV would like to pay tribute to the incredible work Gordon and his team have done since 2009. It’s sales and brand awareness since we launched Peerless-AV EMEA in 2009 has been massive. Gordon’s strategic leadership and incredible work ethic, along with the dynamic leadership of a best-in-class team, which he assembled, has led Peerless-AV to the forefront of the AV businesses.

John Potts

Global President & CEO of Peerless-AV

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