Classe' Closes; Focal CEO Passes Away

Written by Bill Leebens

As mentioned back in Copper #40, changes were afoot at Classe’, part of the B&W Group. It has since become clear that Classe’ will be shut down, effective this weekend.

While this may qualify as Big Freaking News in the world of high-end audio, it’s drawn virtually no attention in mainstream consumer electronics reportage. For those of us who attempt to stay abreast of the changes in our insular little world, this is both frustrating—and business as usual.

The only source actively pursuing information on this development is the industry website Ted at Strata-gee relentlessly ferrets out the truth—which in this case appears to be that …” on Friday, October 6th, the Montreal headquarters of Classé will close their doors for the last time and all remaining employees will be let go.”

Throughout all the upheaval of the last few months, parent company B&W has maintained the attitude of “ain’t nothin’ to see here”, and has decried what they refer to as “rumors” regarding the closing of Classe’.  For longtime industry folks, B&W has largely ceased to exist as it was, as headquarters of the company has moved from Boston to the SF Bay area, longtime company President Doug Henderson was let go, a mass exodus of B&W execs has occurred, and veteran PR representative Lucette Nicoll—immortalized by Art Dudley as “the eternally-beloved Lucette Nicoll”—has parted ways with the company after 27 years.

So: that’s it. Sorry, Classe’. Good luck, B&W.


Gérard Chrétien,   the longtime CEO of Focal, passed away on October 1st. Few details were available at this point; the Focal website announced:

Gérard Chrétien nous a quittés.

Focal rend hommage à cette figure emblématique du monde de la haute-fidélité.
Amoureux de musique et de son, cet homme passionné et passionnant a marqué l’histoire de Focal depuis 1990.

Aux côtés de Jacques Mahul et des équipes Focal, il a contribué à de nombreuses innovations et au rayonnement de la marque en France et à l’international.

(Mangled by Google Translate:  “Gérard Chrétien has left us.

“Focal pays tribute to this emblematic figure of the world of high fidelity.
Lover of music and sound, this passionate and exciting man has marked the history of Focal since 1990.

“Alongside Jacques Mahul and the Focal teams, he has contributed to numerous innovations and to the brand’s reputation in France and abroad”.)

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