The move grants StormAudio complete autonomy in all aspects of brand management as it gains momentum in the CEDIA channel worldwide. It also allows Auro to focus unencumberedly on its long-term vision of innovation and software for connected, immersive and interactive audio and entertainment. Yves Trélohan has organized the Management Buyout with the support of Saffelberg Investments. Trélohan has served as Auro Technologies’ Home Entertainment and Luxury Audio Product Division (StormAudio) Senior Vice President since the company first acquired the brand from Digital Media Solutions in 2015, a company he was Chief Executive Officer of at the time.
Trélohan has been steering the StormAudio product development and global sales for more than 5 years. He orchestrated the acquisition of StormAudio/HELAP along with Brussels-based Saffelberg Investments as partner, via a new dedicated company Immersive Audio Technologies Group, of which he is Managing Director, Shareholder and Board Member. Immersive Audio Technologies will use its Nantes, France facility as global headquarters for sales, marketing, R&D and manufacturing, along with StormAudio’s existing Novato, California North American sales, marketing and dealer support subsidiary and Hong-Kong sales and service support center.
“I’m excited about this acquisition for many reasons,” says Trélohan. “The response from the channel is that we’ve demonstrated technological superiority with the StormAudio product line. This has required both continuous hard work and expenditures on the product development side. The strong financial support provided by Saffelberg Investments will hugely benefit our StormAudio brand expansion as we set our sights on taking the brand to the #1 position in the luxury immersive audio hardware category. Whilst we maintain a great relationship with Auro, we are also excited about working more closely on technical and marketing initiatives with Dolby and DTS. For our dealers and distributors, we are committed to full sales, technical, and product development support, including full presence at CES, ISE and CEDIA Expos and many regional tradeshows around the world.”
The transfer of ownership was finalized December 1, 2017. Trélohan notes that given StormAudio had previously been organized as a separate fully functional business unit (HELAP) within Auro Technologies, all aspects of the day-to-day operations are uninterrupted by the transfer of ownership. All existing StormAudio infrastructure, personnel, phone numbers, website, warehousing, remain in place.
“I want to thank Auro Technologies top management for all the support they have extended to StormAudio these past 3 years,” says Trélohan. “I find Saffelberg to be a perfect new partner for us. Their proven success with similar business profiles, financial backing and long-term vision is a valuable addition to our very solid team. We are very enthusiastic about the future of StormAudio.”
“In 2014 we made history with the Auriga, the first-ever true 3D audio receiver, built for us by StormAudio,” says Auro Technologies Chairman of the Board Wilfried Van Baelen. “Then in 2015 we acquired the brand and started the Home Entertainment and Luxury Audio Product Division (HELAP). In a short period of time we succeeded in making the HELAP unit ISO-certified, setting up a high-quality manufacturing process and signing up more than 40 distributors covering 46 main geographical regions around the world. Today, StormAudio has a fresh, innovative line that has been well-accepted in the channel. Its reliability, stability, unique feature sets and performance make it a resounding success.”
Van Baelen furthered, “Concurrently these past several years, Auro Technologies has made great progress developing new Auro-3D licensing clients. During this time the immersive audio hardware category has significantly progressed, and some of our licensees are marketing immersive audio sound processors that could potentially compete with StormAudio, therefore the success of both Auro and the StormAudio brand limited. Auro Technologies determined the best solution is for the StormAudio HELAP Hardware Division to now stand on its own, granting it the freedom to further capitalize on what it has accomplished. The move frees Auro Technologies to now focus on our long-term vision of becoming a leading powerhouse in innovation and software for connected Immersive and Interactive audio entertainment. We are confident that this mutual decision will be positive for the growth and credibility of both companies,” concluded Van Baelen.
Designed and manufactured in France under the guidance of Trélohan, the StormAudio hardware line consists for now of 5 preamp / processors (from 16- to 32-channels), 3 power amplifiers (8- to 16-channels) and a 16-channel processor/amp (AVR). The products serve the upper end of the custom residential home theater category. The processors all feature built-in compatibility with Auro-3D, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X and integrate category-leading solutions including Dirac Live Room Calibration and StormMonitoring remote web-based monitoring tool.