Perreaux in North America

I need an opinion from you all ~ what is the level of interest in Perreaux products in the US? If their products were available through a dealer network again, how do you all think the products would be received?
That brand has little traction in North America, and would find itself in the same horse race as countless other imported products.
Having owned and sold a Perreaux amp and preamp five years ago, I can say the level of interest for Perreaux gear among Audiogon members on a scale of 1 to 10 was about .5.
I had a problem with a Perreaux piece and found the customer service to be horrendous. I also thought the sonics was mid-fi at best.
As the importer/distributor of a line of gear from China, for what it's worth, I can personally lend some perspective into the trials and tribulations of this. Of course, there will be some advantages in dealing with a western minded country such as New Zealand, but I think there are some definite parallels overall.

It's a far more complex relationship than things intially appear.

As a distributor, you're a "middleman" soaking up dollars that could be passed along to a customer. Normal margins dictate that a component retailing for $1000 costs a dealer $600, a component listing for $2000 costs a dealer $1200, and $3000 piece sells for $1800. Personally, so far, I prefer a more traditional dealer network so that a customer can see/hear/touch a component locally. Selling direct is a lot more work as you would be serving the role a dealer plays, but potentially allows a component to show itself as a greater valuea and perhaps attract more interest.

My opinion of one of the most difficult obstacles to making things profitable is shipping the current world. In the June 13, 2008 edition of The Wall Street Journal, it cost approximately $3000 to ship a container from China to the USA. Today, it is about $16000. New Zealand is going to be somewhat analogous to that.

What that translates into is that one a day to day basis, dealers and customers are going to come to you in order to obtain parts (such as a knob, button, switch, etc.), and the reality is that to put just about anything in an envelope and send it here via FedEX is going to cost you over $100 for the shipping alone. Obviously, it's a losing proposition to sell a $5 knob to a customer for $5 or even $25, and more or less insulting to them to sell at your true cost. That will leave you in more than a bit of quandry.

In other words, in 1990, oil was cheap, and was still relatively so in 2002. If the previous importers found it too difficult a slog in these instances, factor in $140/barrel oil into how much more difficult things will be for someone taking over the task today.

Following that, service is another thing you MUST consider. High-end audio components do break, and customers will need them fixed. If you pay a technician to fix them, you'll be incurring a lot of expense, and if you do it yourself (as I do), you'll pay the price in your time and effort. This all presumes the company you represent is cooperative when it comes to service, so far, the experience I have had with the company I deal with is not acceptable at all when it comes to Western standards.

Other, potential areas a company in New Zealand may have advantage over what I see on a daily basis are the cultural and business details. For example, you'll be able to converse (in English) with them easily. Beyond that, with the company I deal with, the attitude I see is, "We built it, put it in the box, and sent it off to you - now it's your problem..." Well, a lot can happen to an audio component that is traveling halfway around the world. Finding a solution that works for both sides, let alone a company that takes full responsibility for the product working when it is unboxed, when those kind of incidents are encountered has been extremely frustrating, as is when a component fails within the first 6 months of operation. Obviously, all signs point to the a western company being far more sympathetic and dedicated to customer satisfaction.

Circling back to Perreaux specifically, I think history has shown the product has good enough potential in terms of sonics and build quality. But, to live with and/or overcome the things I laid above is the determining factor a potential new distributor must take into account.

To give a vote, my overall feeling is that representing a line of foreign high-end audio components in this day and age is a difficult proposition. If I had to make a go/no go decision, the answer would be - no...
I had a very good experience with a NZ company selling in the US. It was a speed control module for an electric scooter, a quite complicated piece of electronics. The company has an agent and a repair facility in the US. So it can be done.
perreaux is a great brand, but at this stage lots of great brands aren't going to crack the u.s. especially those that have been around for decades. duntech? osborne? garrott bros? go figure.
Perreaux not too long ago, had component's with ugly(think front bumper of an auto from the '50's)chromed faceplates. I wasn't inclined to listen to them while visiting on-going CES.
yep...those ugly fronts killed perreaux here for sure. they were the brainchild of a dr. seuss wannabe