By James Wells

SYDNEY: Sony Australia was recognised by over 60 retailers as the Best Audio Supplier and the Best Imaging Supplier at the inaugural Electrical Retailing Awards (ERAs) on Thursday night.

Sony beat other brands in the Audio category including Apple, Creative, LG Electronics and Panasonic to win the award.

Although the award recognised the performance of the brand across all audio categories, specific attention was placed on the booming mp3 category which last year rose 329 per cent to $506 million, according to GfK Australia.

The retailers judging this award recognised Sony’s ability to deliver profit, the brand’s improved stock availability as well as its increased level of store support and after sales service.

In accepting his award for Best Audio Supplier, Sony Australia national sales manager, David Hargreaves, made the tongue-in-cheek comment: “It just goes to show – Apples do fall from trees,” referring to the market-leading manufacturer of iPod mp3 players.

Apple has been criticised by several retailers for providing poor stock availability and less margin than other brands in the mp3 category.

“The new awards were another opportunity to show our support of the industry. It was also an enjoyable evening, we had a great time. It was good to catch up socially with industry heavyweights which doesn’t happen very often,” said Hargreaves after the event.

Sony Australia corporate marketing communications manager, Tim Rich, who accepted the company’s award for Best Imaging Supplier of the Year was impressed by the judging criteria used for the inaugural awards.

“It’s important that the ERAs are recognised by industry experts and our key retailers. This makes receiving these awards particular satisfying. We were delighted to be named as best overall in key growth areas – audio and digital imaging and recognised for the success of Bravia to be acknowledged as one of 2005’s top products. The importance of in-store communication cannot be underestimated. I particularly valued the judges’ acknowledgement of our efforts in this regard,” Rich said.

In the Imaging category, Sony beat other finalists including Canon, Kodak, Olympus and Panasonic.

Retailers commented that Sony leveraged its iconic status in the marketplace by offering a broad range of products across the $1.1 billion digital still camera and camcorder market. In addition to strong store representation, Sony was recognised for add-on sales through peripheral categories such as photo printers and MemoryStick memory cards. The range was described by retailers as well-priced and well-featured.