It is important that people understand the distinction between a hearing aid manufacturer and a hearing aid retailer. This may sound obvious but it is easy to confuse the two.
A hearing aid manufacturer is the company that actually designed, developed, licenced and manufactured the hearing instruments. The true manufacturing of these products is usually overseas but some assembly is carried out in the UK. Here are the main hearing aid manufacturers together with the company that owns them and their country of origin:
There are other smaller hearing aid manufacturers but their technology tends to be not as good as the major manufacturers. This is probably because the cost of research and development is very high and the larger companies have the economies of scale. Having said that, some small manufacturers produce highly specialised instruments for specific needs.
Generally speaking, hearing aid manufacturers do not deal with the general public in the same way that if you want to buy a BMW you go to a “dealership” rather than calling BMW themselves. In the UK, the hearing aid manufacturers have subsidiaries who stock behind the ear hearing aids, build custom made in the ear hearing aids and repair both kinds. These facilities deal direct with companies who sell hearing aids – the hearing aid retailers.
Here are the UK locations of these subsidiaries:
Phonak Hearing Aids – Warrington
Unitron Hearing Aids – Warrington (same as Phonak)
ReSound Hearing Aids – Oxford
Starkey Hearing Aids – Stockport
Oticon Hearing Aids – Hamilton
Bernafon Hearing Aids – Hamilton (same as Oticon)
Widex Hearing Aids – Chester
Siemens Hearing Aids – Crawley
The distinction between retailers and manufacturers is becoming increasingly blurred. In the UK Phonak (Sonova) own the hearing aid retailer Boots Hearing Care (really called David Ormerod Hearing Centres who are an in store franchise). Oticon (William Demant) own the retailer Hidden Hearing. Widex own the retailers Regional Hearing Services and Bloom Hearing. It is clear that the manufacturers are trying to secure their own route to market and we can expect further future alliances. This may sound a tame and understandable strategy but one has to call into question the impartiality and independence of a retailer who is owned by a manufacturer. It goes without saying that these retailers are highly likely to recommend hearing aids originating from their owners.
Your Hearing only recommends companies that are totally impartial and independent. That way, the consumer is provided with the full choice of all hearing aids available without prejudice or bias.