Bang & Olufsen’s Australian retail stores and distribution sold to luxury watch retailer LK Boutique

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B&O Play BeoPlay A2.

B&O Play BeoPlay A2

The Australian and New Zealand arm of Danish consumer electronics company Bang & Olufsen has been bought by Emerald Group Investments, which operates LK Boutique luxury watch and jewellery stores.

Bang & Olufsen has nine retail stores in Australia and one in New Zealand. In Australia, the company’s retail partners include Harvey Norman, Myer, David Jones and Move. Emerald Group will take over Bang & Olufsen’s retail stores and wholesale distribution operations.

Originally founded in 1925 as a radio manufacturer, Bang & Olufsen has grown to become one of the most respected and well-regarded audio brands in the world. During the 1990s and 2000s, the company grew rapidly as its brand reputation spread across the world, and annual after tax profits of $50-to-70 million were a regular occurrence for the company listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange.

Bang & Olufsen was one of the many luxury lifestyle brands hit by the Global Financial Crisis resulting in a disastrous 2008-09 financial year for the company, which ran a $73 million loss. This was followed by a $6.5 million loss the following year, before much improved $5.5 million and $14.4 million profits in FY2010-11 and 2011-12. But disaster hit again in FY2012-13 when Bang & Olufsen lost $31.5 million and then a further $5.7 million loss was registered for the most recent financial year, which closed on 31 May 2014.

“During the 2013-14 financial year, the work has continued to create a retail network of fewer, more profitable stores, which can invest in service, events, marketing, store design and other customer focused activities,” said president and CEO Tue Mantoni last year.

Bang & Olufsen in Europe cut 125 jobs in March 2015 as the parent company looked to continue its post-GFC restructure.

Emerald Group Investments chief executive officer James Kennedy told Fairfax that the luxury retail market in Australia is performing strongly and Emerald plans to revitalise the Bang & Olufsen brand in Australia.

Additional reporting by Patrick Avenell
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