Bennett To Head Bravado

Tom Bennett will replace Bravado co-founder and chief exec Barry Drinkwater as head of the company as new owner Universal Music Group continues to restructure one of the world’s biggest merchandisers.

The news came in a May 12 statement from Universal chairman and chief exec Lucian Grainge, two weeks after Pollstar revealed that Bravado was cutting its U.K. workforce by 20 percent.

Drinkwater, who founded the company with his brother Keith more than 25 years ago, has already left and about a dozen staffers are also in the process of leaving.

Retailers were informed a month ago that the company’s warehouse and distribution operations will be moved from its southwest London HQ to Universal’s CD distribution plant at Milton Keynes.

The world’s largest music company acquired Bravado when it bought the U.K.’s Sanctuary Music Group last August.

Bennett, whose appointment is effective immediately, was formerly Bravado’s North American chief exec. He will continue to be based in New York.

He’s been associated with Bravado since its inception. His background includes posts at PolyGram (another company Universal now owns), where he headed the worldwide merchandising interests from 1991-99, working with acts including U2, Elton John, Shania Twain and Sting.

Bennett left for five years and worked at World Online Merchandising, representing Simon & Garfunkel, Elton John and Andrea Bocelli.

Bennett rejoined Bravado as chief exec for North America in March 2004, and has since worked to strengthen and expand the company’s business through agreements with Slipknot, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Nickelback, Shakira, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Spice Girls, Daughtry and Slayer, among many others.

In his new role he’ll oversee the development, marketing and manufacturing of licensed products through all channels of Bravado’s merchandise distribution in 77 countries.

"Bravado, because of its great history, is already positioned at the forefront of the music merchandising business. With the added support of Universal Music Group’s resources and global reach, Bravado will grow and lead in this sector as never before," Bennett said.

"With fresh investment and renewed purpose, Bravado will create and deliver innovative products and customised ideas to ever-expanding territories to maximise each artist’s – and each brand’s – merchandising potential and revenue. I am confident that Bravado will continue to be the market leader."