Bowers & Wilkins Dismisses President Doug Henderson


Photo of Doug HendersonWe have learned that Doug Henderson, President of B&W Group North America, was dismissed from the company earlier this week. There has been no official announcement from the company and B&W executives and employees have been unusually tight-lipped about the matter.

See what we’ve uncovered so far on this move by Bowers & Wilkins…

“I can only confirm that Doug Henderson is no longer with the company,” said longtime B&W public relations professional Lucette Nicoll, in response to our query. But this statement alone was enough to confirm the rumor racing around the B&W dealer network, as well as the industry in general, that the decade-long career of Henderson at B&W had come to an end.

The news has electrified the company’s dealer network, a network of dealers already on edge since the company was purchased in May 2016 by EVA Automation, an audio industry outsider. EVA Automation Chairman Gideon Yu came on strong and promised new products that “will ‘take the best of Bowers & Wilkins and Silicon Valley’ to drive Bowers & Wilkins growth,” according to a story in Twice.

A Silicon Valley Point-of-View

Yu is said to be a very savvy financial guy, fully connected to the Silicon Valley venture capital community, and he immediately set out to seek investments from many of his connections. At the same time, Yu was looking to contemporize B&W, promising exciting wireless audio systems with a unique all-new user interface, to be crafted by his stable of Silicon Valley engineers, many of whom are ex-Apple.

Dealers were cautiously optimistic in an echo of what many perceive could be a culture clash between a storied high-end, high-performance specialty audio brand, and a new Silicon Valley startup that may embrace the SV ethic of large volume, mass appeal, easy to use products. For many dealers, B&W is an important line for their image, for their sales, and for their profits. Nervousness prevailed…

Doug Henderson

Doug Henderson

The Linchpin That Makes It Work

For many longtime Bowers & Wilkins dealers, the linchpin for making their relationship work with the new B&W – whatever it was to become – was Doug Henderson, who deeply understands the unique needs of the high-end specialty audio channel. Since the acquisition by EVA Automation, Henderson has worked as sort of a translator between the concerns and needs of the specialty community…and the aggressive, energetic, new SV-influenced company owners.

It was a delicate balance. But now, with Henderson’s exit, that balance has been shattered.

Official Statement from Bowers & Wilkins

We pushed hard for an interview with the company – and in lieu of that, we received the following statement, which is reproduced below in its entirety.

Thank you for your inquiry regarding Bowers & Wilkins. As you know Bowers & Wilkins has been the premier audio brand in the HiFi and Home Theater space for over 50 years now. When we brought our startup, EVA Automation, together with Bowers & Wilkins our intent was to enable the magnificent quality that already exists with a wonderful and consumer focused user experience. As we have stated in the past Bowers & Wilkins is investing a significant amount of capital into the business and remains committed to the mission of premium audio as well as the current channels we operate in. – Gideon Yu; Chairman and CEO

We couldn’t help but notice that there is no mention of Henderson in that statement. However, the comment that they remain “committed to the mission of premium audio as well as the current channels we operate in” may – and we emphasis may – provide some solace for dealers.

Dealer Shock and Conclusion

But first, dealers will need to get over their shock. Right now, some dealers are jumping to the conclusion that Henderson – as one dealer told us – was probably terminated when he couldn’t convince the new owners to “stay the course.”

By taking this step, whether knowing or unknowing, Yu and crew may have caused a crises in confidence with B&W dealers. It will take a strong commitment, and a lot of time staying the course, to convince them otherwise.

Doug Henderson joined B&W as Vice President of Sales & Marketing in 2007. In the last 5½-years, starting in 2012, Henderson has served as its President.

See the B&W website as:

About Ted

A sales and marketing specialist - primarily in the technology industry - I've experienced a sort of "circle of life" in business. I've been a mass merchant retailer, a specialty retailer, a specialty manufacturer, a large volume manufacturer, a distributor, and even represented sales representatives. Now the owner of a marketing company that works with a variety of businesses on improving their strategic marketing and business development - I analyze issues from all angles to develop holistic solutions.


Bowers & Wilkins Dismisses President Doug Henderson — 7 Comments

  1. With B&W recently ‘going direct’ in Australia and dropping the long time distributor, many distributors around the world will be nervous. This will not help calm their nerves – actually delivering products (and not just social media) will!

  2. As a former B&W dealer who was fired by them for our level of commitment to the brand, which basically was exclusivity, wasn’t enough.

    They wanted us to sell all sorts of products to customers, that our residential customers did not see value in. In 2017 you can not operate a consumer electronics line like its 1995 anymore.

    As much as it’s a bummer for the boys club that their leader is no longer there, this is the smartest move B&W could have done to avoid extinction.

    Speakers are commoditized technology and if you think differently you are going to die on the vine.

    • Dan,

      Thanks for your comment. One thing we know for sure, change is coming to B&W. Whether or not it will be “the smartest move B&W could have done” remains to be seen.


  3. B&W is in trouble. Sonance is doing everything right and B&W does not evolve or innovate to help the custom channel. I think this is a huge mistake on B&W’s part and will definitely have an adverse effect on sales.

    • JAAPM,

      Sonance and B&W have taken two different paths. Sonance is a leading architectural loudspeaker manufacturer, while B&W is a high-end, high- performance speaker line. So it’s a bit of an apples-and-oranges comparison. But the specialty segment seems to be struggling and that has likely impacted B&W. New owner EVA Automation is promising new products, so time will tell.


  4. Henderson advocated for certain new traditional products like outdoor garden speakers and new soundbar that apparently were in the design stage then cancelled by the new owners. Henderson told The Powers That Be one too many times that they were making a mistake so they had to shoot the messenger. I deem this as the first shoe dropping. A collossal blunder accomplishing nothing. Henderson would have easily championed new wireless products in the mix

  5. Note what Mr. Yu said in his response, “…Bowers & Wilkins is investing a significant amount of capital into the business and remains committed to the mission of premium audio …” I don’t think for a long shot that garden speakers and soundbars are categories of premium audio. Ask any independent specialty audio retailer what categories are their bread-n-butter in sales. It’s NOT garden speakers and soundbars. B&W has forgotten their identity and what got them to the top of the mountain.

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