MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS retailer Gear4music is gearing up for the Christmas rush with a number of new products designed to meet the growing demand for children’s instruments and drum kits that don’t drive the neighbours insane.
The York-based group, which floated on AIM in June, is seeing strong demand for digital drum kits that allow musicians to listen through headphones so they can learn how to play without annoying the rest of the family or the neighbours.
Another strong growth area is a new range of very lightweight instruments called Gear4music playLITE. The range includes trumpets and trombones in various colours which are designed for children who are learning how to play.
The group’s CEO Andrew Wass said: “These lightweight instruments allow children to start playing younger, as young as four or five.
“They come in bright colours such as red and yellow and we will probably expand the colour range.”
The festive season provides such a boost to sales that the second half accounts for 64 per cent of annual sales.
Mr Wass said that the Christmas season now starts from Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving at the end of November).
“We know when Christmas starts now. It makes it easier to plan. Black Friday is an important new calendar point.”
He was speaking as the group announced a 43 per cent jump in revenue to £12.5m in the six months to August 31.
The group made underlying earnings of £220,000, up from a loss of £250,000 last year.
At this stage, Gear4music is focused on investing in the business rather than making a profit and the underlying net loss, excluding IPO costs of £600,000, was £500,000 compared with £900,000 last year.
The group said this was a significant improvement and has provided good trading momentum going into the key trading period.
“We are really pleased with these results,” said Mr Wass.
“We are delivering what we said we’d deliver. In the first quarter revenue was up 40 per cent and in the second quarter it was up 45 per cent and we did the IPO in the middle of that.”
The group raised £10m of gross proceeds from its AIM listing to invest in the growth of the business.
Total website visitor numbers increased by 29 per cent to 4.41 million, with visitors to the UK website rising 19 per cent and visitor numbers to the group’s 18 websites serving customers in Europe rising 46 per cent.
The group served 88,300 customers over the half year, up 33 per cent on last year. The number of new customers increased by 31 per cent whilst repeat customers rose 39 per cent. Active customers increased by 34 per cent.
Organic website traffic growth rose from 43 per cent to 47 per cent.
Gear4Music is now selling 30,000 products, up from 27,000 in June. The group sells Fender, Yamaha and Gibson and has over 1,400 own brand products.
As part of the firm’s growth staff numbers have risen from 80 in August last year to 122 employees and the group is currently recruiting.
New products include deluxe ukuleles at £39.99 that are a step-up from the popular £13.99 standard Gear4music ukulele.
Ukeleles are becoming increasingly popular as they are much easier to learn how to play than other instruments. They are also enjoying a comeback following increasing interest in folk music.