TAG McLaren F1 company buys Audiolab, UK audio manufacturer

UK electronics specialty manufacturer Audiolab has been taken over by leading Grand Prix car-racing company TAG McLaren---or, more precisely, by the TAG McLaren Group. A newly formed company, TAG Electronics Holdings Ltd., will be the parent of both Cambridge Systems Technology Ltd. (which trades as Audiolab) and TAG Electronic Systems Ltd. (which supplies specialist, low-volume electronic engine-management systems to exclusive high-end automobile brands).

TAG McLaren Group's Managing Director, Ron Dennis, shows his mastery of mediaspeak in the following statement: "I am very excited about this expansion into the field of high-quality audio equipment. I am convinced that the synergy between Cambridge Systems Technology Ltd. and our existing electronics company, TAG Electronic Systems Ltd., will allow us to provide the consumer market with the technical excellence and commitment to outstanding quality for which all our companies are known." Quite so.

Why did Audiolab decide to sell? It's not difficult to figure out some of the reasons. A relative youngster among the leading UK brands, Audiolab started out in 1983, had grown to around the sterling equivalent of $3.2 million annual turnover by 1994, and is currently operating at around $8.8 million. The next phase of growth requires the finance and technical resources that the TAG Group is well able to supply.

It's too early to predict what direction the reinvigorated Audiolab will take, though it's interesting to speculate. If Managing Director Philip Swift has a shopping list, I'd bet the chance to develop an Audiolab CD drive mechanism will be somewhere near the top. The company lost a bundle early in 1997 when it temporarily suspended the shipping of its CD players and transports to protect its reputation while a reliability problem was being sorted out in the Philips-sourced mechanism. And perhaps one day we'll also hear the ultimate in in-car entertainment---installed in a McLaren F1 demonstrator!

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