Updated July 10, 2019
IntriCon Corp, Arden Hills, Minn, a manufacturer and distributor of hearing aids, personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), and micro-miniature medical devices, announced yesterday a distribution agreement with Puretone Ltd, a Rochester (Kent) UK-based hearing healthcare company with operations in more than 75 countries. Under the terms of the agreement, Puretone will distribute IntriCon branded hearing aids, including into the National Health Service (NHS) system on the company’s behalf.
Additionally, IntriCon completed the sale of its PC Werth accessory business assets to Warner Tech-care UK LTD, a subsidiary of US based Warner Tech-care LLC which is also based in Minneapolis. Warner will continue to sell the accessories and services under the PC Werth brand names in the region, including IntriCon-branded hearing aids into the NHS system which is the largest supplier of hearing aids in the world. Intricon had purchased PC Werth Ltd of London, one of the oldest multi-line suppliers of hearing healthcare products and equipment in the UK and a supplier to NHS, in November 2015 shortly after the death of Lawrence Werth, a well-known figure in the English hearing healthcare market and the son of founder Peter C. Werth.
IntriCon also announced in a Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) filing the cessation all production and direct sales activities at its UK Limited subsidiary, effective June 28, 2019. The closure is expected to provide the company with a cost reduction of approximately $1.0 million annually. According to the filing, the decision to close IntriCon UK was made to allow the company to focus its resources on two value hearing health priorities: 1) to prudently expand its direct sales initiatives with Hearing Help Express and 2) to seek partnerships with best-in-class entrants in the emerging OTC hearing aid market.
“We are delighted to partner with Puretone,” said IntriCon President and CEO Mark Gorder in a press statement. “They are a well-respected, global hearing health provider that has a proven track record for reaching the UK’s substantial customer base. Importantly, this shift from direct sales to a distribution model in the UK not only provides us with a reduced cost structure but enables us to better focus our resources on our value-based hearing healthcare opportunities, most notably the large emerging OTC hearing aid market in the US.”
IntriCon is a major manufacturer of economy/value-based hearing aids and personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) for direct-to-consumer (DTC) distributors, as well as for United Health’s hi HealthInnovations in Minneapolis and EarVenture. The company also owns Hearing Help Express, and is a supplier of micro-components to medical device companies like Medtronics in Minneapolis and elsewhere. IntriCon reported revenues of $116.5 million in 2018, up 28.5% from $90.6 million in 2017. Puretone, which was established by Jay Choudhry and his family starting in 1976, was in Hearing Review’s news last week for supplying and supporting NuHeara’s IQbuds BOOST hearables to the NHS Scotland hearing contract under the Hearables category.
PC Werth to Become Warner Werth
President Lee Heidenreich noted that PC Werth is the UK’s longest established and largest supplier of specialist products to the UK’s hearing healthcare professionals. He says that, with its 2018 acquisition of the Hal-Hen, Warner Tech-care has played a similar role in the United States for more than 70 years.
“Warner Tech-care’s mission has been to equip the hearing healthcare industry with the quality supplies and support needed to prevent and treat hearing loss worldwide,” wrote Heidenreich. “Warner works hard to create collaborative partnerships and provide unmatched service and product support. We look forward to the opportunity to offer expanded service to hearing healthcare. With more than 100 years of collective experience and a shared mission, we believe the combination of Warner Tech-care and PC Werth will be extremely beneficial for the customers of both companies.”
The new company will operate under the name Warner Werth, with Heidenreich serving as president of Warner Tech-care UK Ltd and long-time hearing industry veteran Joe Vespe, assisted by Stuart Axon, directing Warner Werth’s operations. “Our team is working diligently to ensure a smooth integration of the operations,” writes Heidenreich. “We at Warner Werth are very excited about the acquisition and look forward to supplying our customers with an even broader range of quality products supported by exceptional product knowledge and service. If there is a product that we do not have, let us know and we will get it. If a product does not exist to meet a particular requirement, let us know and we can help design and source it.”