Lenbrook Announces Acquisition of High-End A/V Manufacturer Sonic Frontiers Inc.

The Lenbrook Group of Pickering, Ontario, Canada announced March 25 that it will acquire Sonic Frontiers of Oakville, Ontario, Canada. This acquisition, effective May 1, 1998, is an extension of Lenbrook's commitment to enhance its position in the international specialty A/V segment of the consumer electronics industry. A new company, Sonic Frontiers International (SFI), will be formed to leverage Lenbrook's strengths with Sonic Frontiers' market position in the high-end segment of the audio business.

Sonic Frontiers was founded 10 years ago by President and CEO Christopher Johnson and Vice-President of International Sales and Marketing Chris Jensen, who will form the senior management team of the new initiative. Their goal will be to develop a high-end, multibrand organization within The Lenbrook Group through international marketing alliances or brand acquisition. SFI will develop these brands and appoint qualified distributors to sell these products in markets around the world.

Chris Johnson emphasized that although the distribution channel for Sonic Frontiers and its subsidiary brand, Anthem, is changing, the current product line and day-to-day operations of the company remain the same. He did, however, hint at "a slate of upper-tier home-theater products" to be launched later in the fall. These include three products that will likely be shown as prototypes at the CEDIA show in September. Chris also expressed excitement about being able to expand the Assemblage line of kit offerings as a result of the deal.

When asked about developing other markets, Chris hinted at possible high-end solid-state and speaker lines. New brands or more acquisitions? Chris wouldn't say, but added: "In making this deal with Lenbrook, we are very pleased that all options remain on the table for future product and brand opportunities."

Gordon Simmonds, Executive Vice President of The Lenbrook Group, commented, "Our investment in Sonic Frontiers is logical considering Lenbrook's overall audio/video segment strategy. This gives us immediate presence in the High End with two highly respected brands (Sonic Frontiers and Anthem). At the same time, we gain an extremely capable management team who we will partner and invest with in order to grow this new part of Lenbrook's organization. And the company will now have the resources to move ahead aggressively in its home theater product developments."

Sonic Frontiers' President and CEO Chris Johnson commented, "We have built Sonic Frontiers consistently and carefully over the past several years so that we are now well-positioned for the future. However, to achieve our ultimate goal of taking Sonic Frontiers to its full potential and then adding the strength of multibrand international marketing, we needed a partner like Lenbrook with their strategic, financial, and operational strength. It's a perfect fit!"

Sonic Frontiers International will appoint Lenbrook America as its North American distribution partner. Lenbrook America has formed a new division, Lenbridge Technologies, which will market Sonic Frontiers and, eventually, additional high-end brands to specialty A/V dealers in the US and Canada. The appointment of a Director of Sales and Marketing is expected soon. In the interim, to ensure a seamless transition, Chris Johnson will handle this role. Long-time Sonic Frontiers Sales Manager Maria DiTomaso will continue in her critical role with this new Lenbrook division.

Bob Brown, President of Lenbrook America, noted the synergy between Sonic Frontiers and the company's other activities. "By building a business in the high-end home audio and theater niche, we will leverage our existing profitable, value-added partnerships with an additional group of high-end retail customers. Sonic Frontiers' plan to introduce a high-end home theater series to its existing product line this fall blends their strong position in high-end audio with the latest market trends in North America."

The Lenbrook Group is a business development company with interests in specialty audio and video, wireless communications, solar power, and consumer telephones. It owns the PSB loudspeaker brand and is the North American marketing partner for NAD Electronics. Lenbrook America, a subsidiary, controls Home Systems Plus of Baltimore, MD. The Lenbrook Group also represents Bang & Olufsen and Marantz in the Canadian market.