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Volume 3, Number 6, August 2005
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The Channel: A&T Trade, Russia, CIS, & Baltic States
UA Featured International Distributor Profile
By Terry Hardin

Who Is A&T Trade?
Headquartered in Beverly Hills, California, A&T Trade, Inc., is an American corporation that was set up in 1990 by three famous Russian rock and jazz musicians, including Sasha Sit, who is now the executive vice president. Sit was the guitarist with Autograph, Russia's leading rock band, from 1980 to 1990. This year, he reunited with the band and is currently on tour to mark Autograph's twenty-fifth anniversary--the group is the first to perform live in 5.1 surround sound in Russia.

As executive VP of A&T Trade, Sit is part of the leading distributor of musical instruments, and professional audio, studio and lighting equipment across the whole of the former USSR. Since its inception, the company has grown into the largest multi-industrial holding of its
A&T Trade Marketing Director, Yuri Shagin, with members of the popular Russian band B-2
type. It offers a diverse portfolio of products and services, including installation and system integration for show business in the CIS and the Baltic States. In fact, A&T controls a major portion of these markets in that part of the world. In order to maintain its leadership position the company focuses on each market segment through its three dedicated divisions: Professional Audio & Musical Instruments; Sound & Lighting Equipment, Touring and Permanent Installation; and Solutions and Equipment for Movie Theatres.

Having its headquarters in the USA has helped A&T Trade to eliminate most of the problems associated with doing business in fledgling markets, such as Russia and other countries of the former USSR. Today, A&T Trade has a combined sales and support force of more than 250 people, in the key markets of the CIS and the Baltic States. Of those employees, there are 200 in Moscow, 30 in Kiev and 20 in Riga. This allows A&T Trade to achieve the most effective market penetration and territorial coverage for the manufacturers it represents.

We believe in the talent of our national and local performing artists, musicians, producers, sound engineers and creative professionals of all kinds. Our goal is to supply them with the best means for self-expression, to bring the Russian show business technically on par with the highest world standards.

A&T Trade's list of business partners is the most extensive and comprehensive of its kind. The company Maintains mostly exclusive distribution agreements with more than one hundred leading manufacturers, such as Digidesign, Fender, Ibanez, Alesis, Mackie, Martin Audio, Shure, Tama, Zildjian, and others. A&T Trade continues to expand its brand portfolio in order to keep its leadership position in the constantly growing markets it covers.

A&T Trade's main office is located in Moscow, and it has satellite offices throughout the territory of the former USSR: Riga, Latvia, covering Estonia and Lithuania; Kiev, Ukraine; Minsk, Belarus; and Tbilisi, Georgia, covering the Caucasus region.

To continue its aggressive expansion after the devastating Russian economic crisis of 1998, A&T Trade has adopted a new strategic program of building and operating company-owned distribution centers, franchises and retail outlets throughout the market territories. Presently, more than twenty such "points of presence" have been established and are operating throughout the territory of the region.

What makes A&T Trade unique?
Along with its various industry achievements, A&T Trade, Inc. is one of the very first companies to apply professional, free-market methods of product purchasing, marketing and distribution in the territories of the former Soviet Union. Offering its customers what they want, when and how they want it, is a major part of the distributor's customer relations policy. To achieve this objective A&T Trade employs only the top professionals, which is not as easy as it sounds. A&T Trade's human resource department is presented with a difficult challenge, as the region continues to undergo the transition from a Soviet-style economy to the free market. Therefore, training and education are essential ongoing processes at A&T Trade.

The sales tower section of A&T Trade’s booth at the annual Moscow Music Fair
A&T Trade’s pro brands marketing team at their Moscow offices

A&T's senior product manager Julia Kosterova says that her company's philosophy is to offer the broadest possible range of engineering solutions for the show business industries in the CIS and the Baltic countries. "We believe in the talent of our national and local performing artists, musicians, producers, sound engineers and creative professionals of all kinds," she says. "Our goal is to supply them with the best means for self-expression, to bring the Russian show business technically on par with the highest world standards."

"Like everywhere in the world, audio professionals in Russia are eager to get their hands on the best gear from the best-established suppliers they can afford," Kosterova continues. "Most of them are on the conservative side in good sense, sometimes critical of innovations. At the same time, they follow foreign colleagues in their choices, so quality and reputation are very important. On the other hand, overall average budgets allocated for studio equipment are still much lower than in the United States or Western Europe, being constrained by the country's level of economic development. However, the situation is changing; Russian economy little by little appears to restore its growth. In fact, it has already grown significantly since the crisis of 1998."

Kosterova says that A&T's relationship with Universal Audio is important to the distributors clients. "Universal Audio's reputation, coupled with a superb product mix of classic analog gear and affordable yet powerful solutions for computer-based production, perfectly fill the needs of our customers--from home studios to large commercial facilities," she says. "The Universal Audio team is most professional, helpful and really pleasant to deal with. The gear is much acknowledged and highly thought of by audio professionals--a must have for every studio.

We also asked Kosterova what makes selling UA gear difficult. "Nothing to do with Universal Audio gear in particular," she says. "The issues are the same for all imported products, from post-soviet specific economic issues and market peculiarities to language barrier. But we are here to overcome these difficulties and deliver the best products and service to our customers, aren't we?"

First-, second- and third-place winners of an online Universal Audio trivia contest held by A&T Trade, with A&T Trade’s Julia Kosterova

Julia Kosterova, accomplished guitar slinger and senior product manager for A&T Trade

A&T Trade
Russian Headquarters
A&T Trade - Moscow
3/1, Aristarkhovski Per.,
109004, Moscow, Russia
Phone: +7 (095) 796-9262
Fax: +7 (095) 796-9266

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