Ingram Entertainment Buys Rival Baker & Taylor’s Retail Entertainment Assets

Ingram Entertainment Inc., for years the leading national distributor of home entertainment products, announced Jan. 14 that it has purchased certain assets of the Baker & Taylor LLC entertainment products distribution business, such as retail customer agreements for the purchase of video and audio music products.

The purchase, which does not involve book products or the Baker & Taylor businesses that provide support and services to public libraries, retail booksellers and publishers, took effect Jan. 11.  Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

David Ingram, chairman of Ingram Entertainment, said structural changes in the physical home entertainment marketplace led to a deal with Baker & Taylor.

David Ingram

“Acquiring these entertainment assets of Baker & Taylor will enhance our financial performance by enabling us to process more units through our existing facilities throughout the country,” he said. “Those efficiencies will better position us to work with our suppliers to provide our retailers – including former Baker & Taylor retail entertainment customers – with the products they need for the success of their businesses. We look forward to the opportunities this transaction provides for our suppliers, customers, and associates.”

Bob Webb, Ingram Entertainment’s president and CEO, added, “Baker & Taylor has been a respected competitor and a valued contributor to the home entertainment products distribution business for many years.  Ingram Entertainment looks forward to the opportunity to increase our sales of products to video, audio music and online retailers.

Webb also expressed appreciation to all the personnel at both Ingram Entertainment and Baker & Taylor who assisted in the purchase and will be assisting in the transition.

Bob Webb

Baker & Taylor president David Cully said the sale of his company’s retail entertainment assets “will allow both companies to bring greater value to customers through the strengths of our respective wholesale distribution businesses. For Baker & Taylor, that means delivering the most innovative and efficient content distribution services to our retail, public library and publisher service customers everywhere.”

In a similar transaction, La Vergne, Tennessee-based Ingram Entertainment in June 2014 purchased the assets of V.P.D. IV Inc. of Folsom, California.

V.P.D. (which did business as Video Products Distributors Inc.) also was a distributor of DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, video games and gaming systems.

During the heyday of the VHS era, when independent rental stores still accounted for the majority of the home entertainment business, most video cassettes came to mark through third-party distributors like Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Major Video Concepts, Artec, WaxWorks and Flash Distributors.

Distributors met each spring in Indian Wells, California, for annual meetings with studio executives, where through their trade group, the National Association of Video Distributors (NAVD), they lobbied for better pricing and terms as well as a standard Tuesday street date for new home video releases.

The rise of national video rental chains, most notably Blockbuster, saw studios establish direct relationships with key retail buys, minimizing the importance of third-party distributors. This trend accelerated with the advent of DVD.

During the heyday of the VHS rental cassette, distributors were so powerful that most held their own annual trade shows for retail clients. Media Play News publisher Thomas K. Arnold was a frequent speaker at the annual WaxWorks show in Owensboro, Ky. He is shown here in October 1996 with WaxWorks VP Noel Clayton.