The State of Sound


Munich # 1. An Entente Cordiale


It has been twenty months since the manufacturing firm Naim, having been bought by Focal (located in St. Etienne), really and truly left behind the British standard to join the French fold.

In Munich, I took part in a press conference held by the Focal/Naim group during which the group’s performance and new products were presented. What was the most striking was that the visual identity of the two companies had been perfectly maintained; only the physical proximity of the two manufacturers, brought together in the same conference space, revealed their relationship. A coming together and an intelligent fusion, in which the cultural identity of each firm was fully respected. Indeed, Naim has continued to manufacture its devices on the other side of the Channel, and the aesthetics of its trademark features have not budged one iota. Focal has thus demonstrated a commercial intelligence that we would like to see reflected in the actions of more companies. It is still necessary to remind the devourers of companies from across the Atlantic, whose appetites seem limitless, that they cannot buy the cultural identity of the businesses they acquire and even less so that of their brands. Focal understood this perfectly.


The “French accent” of Gérard Chretien, one of Focal’s CEO, is quickly forgotten as he begins to speak. The man has no need to profess his respect for Naim’s history. He manifests it; he also presents figures supporting the idea that the union will add inestimable value that will benefit both entities. He nonetheless brings up his daily obsession: to continue renewing the client base. If the transition period taking place at present, as music becomes dematerialized, represents a historic opportunity, then Focal/Naim clearly plans to play a major role. He has plans for loads of new products that go beyond just the necessary updating of their speaker series. In particular, I noted that a hub is planned, a type of box that will serve as a universal bridge, allowing the easy connection of input sources, peripheral devices, and wireless speakers.

Focal/Naim unquestionably remains the most ambitious business project in the world of French high fidelity that has been conceived over the last ten years!

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This entry was posted on 10/05/2013 by in Interviews, Reports and tagged , , , , .
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