The growing importance – and the growing number – of ’boutique’ products poses a series of problems as well as opportunities for retailers and traditional distributors alike, but a new French company, Underground Distribution, has plans to bring its unique approach to the UK boutique market, writes Gary Cooper.
Already established with 30 retailers in Europe, and currently establishing in the USA, Underground Distribution is a French musical distributor specialising in boutique effect pedals, amps and guitars, currently handling five different brands.
Underground’s founder and CEO, Anthony Aillaud, explains the concept: ‘We believe in an equitable collaboration between brands, retailers and representatives. Our main goal is to adapt our services in order to help each kind of brand, from the smallest to the biggest. Everyone can access our services, immediate profit is not our culture.
‘Underground Distribution is not a traditional distributor. Indeed, we don’t buy companies’ products. However, this allows you to keep an important margin while using our retailers network. We bring our expertise and knowledge to optimise the visibility and introduce the products to our exclusive retailers’ network. If we don’t sell, you don’t pay. In other words, we make brands’ life easier!
‘Our second objective is to create an international network of independent representatives because we believe in sustainability. When an independent representative wants to add one brand to his catalog, Underground Distribution will train and support him.
‘It can be very hard to position yourself in the music industry, especially if you are a small “boutique” company. Finding the right partners and making the right strategic choices can easily become a nightmare. Those facts allowed us to introduce a new kind of concept. What if distribution becomes a participative and collaborative thing? Indeed, most of the distributors usually buy brands’ products and sell them to resellers. This strategy creates a new intermediary, increases the final price for customer and reduces retailers’ margin.’
In practical terms this means, he says: ‘Our system is interesting for small to medium brands. Indeed, the maximum percentage is 13% (10% for sales representatives, 3% for us). Most of the time, a traditional distributor keeps around 20%, even if they pay for marketing. Moreover, most of the time, this marketing is only for one country. However, our system offers a real expertise and follow up for this kind of company. The basic offer is ” free”. Indeed, if a manufacturer wants to join our program he doesn’t have to pay for it.’
Underground offers a variety of packages that manufacturers can choose from, involving a wide range of services, including invoicing, marketing and advertising, if desired.
Aillaud says Underground is looking not just for retailers interested in selling its products but also for new brands and independent representatives who are interested in trying a new way of working.
‘In order to strengthen our network, we are looking for several independent sales representatives in UK, Germany and Benelux. The sales representatives will be trained and remunerated by commission. Moreover, they can choose the desired brands without any restrictions’.
Underground Distribution brands:
P&P Amplification: http://www.plugandplay-amp.com/Pages/EN/index.html
Fx Amps: http://www.fxamps.com/
Wild Custom Guitars: https://www.wildcustomguitars.com/