Fine Sounds SpA Acquires Sumiko

In what is sure to be a win-win situation for both manufacturers and consumers, Fine Sounds SpA of Milan, Italy, owner of Sonus Faber, Audio Research Corporation and Wadia Digital, has acquired 100% of Sumiko manufacturing and distribution in Berkeley, CA. In addition to distributing Wadia Digital next month, Sumiko will continue to distribute Sonus Faber loudspeakers, REL subwoofers, Pro-Ject Audio Systems turntables and electronics, SME turntables and tonearms, Sumiko phono cartridges, and Okki Nokki record cleaning machines in North America.

With the acquisition, Sumiko's current owners, Donald Brody and John Hunter, have become partners in Fine Sounds SpA. Fine Sounds' other partner is Quadrivio, the private equity fund/holding company that controls Sonus Faber, Audio Research Corporation, and Wadia Digital. While the manufacturing company Sumiko is now owned by Fine Sounds, Brody and Hunter continue as sole owners of REL and Wolf Cinema. REL will be distributed globally by Fine Sounds, while Wolf Cinema, the only video-based animal in the group, retains its independent distribution.

Brody explained to Stereophile that about two years ago, Quadrivio manager Galeazzo Scarampi realized that Sumiko, distributor of Quadrivio's brands, had something that Quadrivio lacked: "an enormous amount of talent, expertise, and background in the area of marketing, distribution, and sales." Sumiko also had a long track record of carefully training dealers and exhibiting at major trade shows.

Quadrivio's strengths, on the other hand, lay in engineering and manufacture. Its own sales force was quite small, with most sales and marketing conducted externally by independent distributors.

"Eventually, we decided to merge into one company," says Brody." We now have three very strong lines that, along with REL and Sumiko phono cartridges, complement each other. And we owners all get along really well, which makes a big difference because we are all staying on and growing Fine Sounds together. Our goal is to bring out more and better products, give our dealers and distributors more training and support, and pass the benefits along to our customers."

Brody promises many changes. Wadia Digital, for example, has long been a small organization without sufficient personnel for efficient sales follow-up and customer support. The new alliance will change all that. Order fulfillment across all brands will be streamlined and better coordinated, and dealer training will improve. Customers and dealers will soon be able to access parts and repairs with greater ease, and customers will discover products from all the companies displayed as a group at consumer shows.

Equally important, Fine Sounds' Sonus Faber, Audio Research, and Wadia Digital brands will be able to design new products that draw upon Sumiko's knowledge of what costumers around the world want to see in their future products. "All of us involved want to have products that are the best in the world in their category," says Brody.