Three UK Audio-Console Manufacturers To Pool Certain Key Resources

Audio-console manufacturers DiGiCo, Allen & Heath, and Calrec have jointly formed a “professional group” that will allow them to pool R&D capabilities while each remains a separate entity with its own customer relationships and brand identity. DiGiCo Managing Director James Gordon has been named group CEO. Electra Partners, a UK-based private-equity investment trust that owns two of the companies, put the deal together.

“The strategy is to share technology and resources across the group and allow some interconnectivity across the product lines,” Gordon explained in a statement announcing the move. “We have bold plans for the group, but it is imperative that each company maintains its own independence and style. None of these brands needs to trade off each other’s technology or reputation.”

The action underscores ongoing consolidation within the pro-audio industry. In June 2013, Electra Partners purchased Allen & Heath — whose consoles are used extensively in the live-sound, touring, and fixed-installation sectors — for a reported £43 million in equity and debt. This year, Electra Partners acquired Calrec, which has a leading position in the U.S. remote-broadcasting sector, from D&M Holdings for a mixture of equity and debt worth £14 million ($23.1 million).

In both transactions, company executives stressed the continued separation of brand identities. “We are still 100% focused on supplying our customers,” Calrec Audio Marketing Manager Kevin Emmott told SVG at the time.

The pooling of certain resources will be a familiar process for some of the companies. Under the aegis of both D&M and Electra, both Allen & Heath and Calrec operated as sister companies, sharing some R&D activities.

DiGiCo, which has sizable market share in live- and broadcast-sound markets, is also backed by private equity. In 2011, it underwent a £50 million management buyout funded by ISIS Equity Partners, which maintains a controlling interest with previous owner Matrix Private Equity Partners.

Charles Elkington, an investment partner at Electra Partners, said in a statement, “DiGiCo augments our existing investment in the professional-audio sector. We have worked hard over the last 18 months to bring together these three successful businesses. We look forward to working with James Gordon and his team to grow the group, while also preserving the distinctive brand identity and excellent customer relationships of each business.”

Executives of the other companies also made statements. Glenn Rogers, managing director of Allen & Heath, added, “The creation of the group with DiGiCo and their management is an impressive combination. It will certainly add new momentum to what Allen & Heath and Calrec had already planned for the future.”

Said Henry Goodman, sales and marketing director, Calrec, “This exciting formation gives Calrec new opportunities for swifter development of a host of ideas we have been wanting to bring to the market. We will have a vast pool of engineers to share new ideas for the industry and target them specifically to each brand’s needs. Customers can expect us to maintain and, in some areas, improve our very high levels of support and service.”