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Aiwa brand up for auction, its parent bankrupt

The famous Aiwa brand – synonymous with audio products for 70 years – is up for auction as part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings of parent Aiwa Corporation.  

Hilco Streambank, a specialist in monetising intellectual property assets and distressed brands, said it had been retained to manage the sale, subject to bankruptcy court approval. Bids are being taken until October 4. 

Aiwa has manufactured audio products, including speakers, headphones, and stereo systems since 1951. At its peak, it achieved sales of more than $2 billion annual revenue. 

The company invented the first Japanese cassette tape recorder in 1964. 

Listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange from 1961 it lost profitability in the late 1990s and was taken over and delisted by Sony in 2003. 

Sony tried to revive the brand as a youth-focused subsidiary but after three years gave up and the brand was effectively shelved in 2006 until US company Hale Devices was granted the brand name in 2015. 

Hale renamed itself Aiwa Corporation and started producing audio equipment, but six years later is now under Chapter 11 protection as its assets are liquidated. 

“Not very often does an opportunity arise to acquire such a top tier brand in this industry,” said Hilco Streambank CEO Gabriel Fried. “As increasingly more newcomers enter the consumer electronics market, owning a brand as recognisable as Aiwa would be a tremendous competitive advantage.”

Hilco will be selling Aiwa trademarks registered in the US, the EU, the UK, France, and WIPO, domain names, patents, e-commerce storefronts, social media accounts, inventory, and contracts, including licensing agreements.

The audio sector has seen many quality audio hardware brands succumb to the digitally-driven new era in past decades including Japan’s Nakamichi since revived by a Chinese buyer.

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