New Clarity chairman vows to drive consumers in-store

UK hi-fi industry trade body Clarity Alliance has announced the appointment of Tom Barron (pictured) as chairman for 2017.

At its annual conference earlier this month, held at Dolby’s European headquarters in London’s Soho Square, the association revealed its board directors for 2017. They included: Tom Barron, Bryston account manager at PMC; Haymarket Publishing editor-in-chief Andy Clough, Geoff Coleman of retailer Acoustica, Phil Hansen from Red Sheep Communications, Geoff Mathews of retailer Soundcraft Hi-Fi; Ian Sutton, UK sales manager at B&W, Simon Talbot of retailer Bartletts Hi-Fi; Richard Trotter, area sales manager at Arcam, and Naim managing director Trevor Wilson.

Retiring chairman, Laurence Armstrong, managing director of Henley Designs, remains on the board in an ex-officio capacity. The board also agreed to co-opt Elizabeth Gould of retailer Martins Hi-Fi. Roger Batchelor and Alan Sircom have both retired from the board.

The conference included insights from research company GfK, which revealed that the upward trend in streaming and turntables has continued, with a 62 per cent rise in sales by volume and a 56 per cent rise in value between 2015 and 2016.

Other highlights included the near total replacement of home-theatre speaker systems by soundbars, with 95 per cent of the sales, and the rise to £276 million in sales of connected audio devices during 2016.

In light of changing market conditions and political uncertainty, the board said it believed the alliance could best serve its members by focusing on activities that directly, and measurably, benefit them in the short and medium term.

So Clarity will be launching a new online advertising campaign aimed at driving business directly to its members’ shops.

Chairman Tom Barron said: “We are very confident that our focus on providing support and carefully designed benefits for our members will reap rewards for the membership and wider industry. The market is facing a period of economic uncertainty and it is our responsibility as the industry’s trade association to provide support functions.

Dolby’s European headquarters in London’s Soho Square
Dolby’s European headquarters in London’s Soho Square

“Last year we were very pleased to welcome a good number of new members to Clarity, including the high-profile brands Naim, Leema and Cyrus, which is proof that our objectives resonate with the industry. With our new programme for 2017 we hope more industry members will opt to join and work together for the betterment of the whole sector.”

Clarity also announced the launch of its new online marketplace iDreamAV, which will be integrated into the association’s website.

It provides a dedicated portal for retailers to sell their end-of-line, trade-in and second-hand hi-fi equipment, avoiding high fees from other popular online auction sites.

iDreamAV also allows for tracking of advert performance, user editing and a mobile-friendly platform. It will be made available to all Clarity members as an option for their businesses and can be integrated into their own websites.

Richard Hartigan, industry manager, technology, at Google, who was the keynote speaker, advocated a ‘join-up’ approach across web advertising, location-based services and relationship management to create lasting relationships with purchasers.

Google and Clarity have committed to running training courses throughout 2017, following a successful pilot course held at Google’s office in 2016.