Stake sale helps Gear4music tune into growth

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RETAIL entrepreneur Andrew Wass has sold a minority stake in his online musical instrument shop to a private equity firm for £3.4m.

Key Capital Partners’ investment in Gear4music.com will help the fast-growing company to expand market share in Britain and continue its expansion into mainland Europe.

The York-based business sells well-known brands such as Fender, Gibson, Roland and Marshall and own-label items such as electric guitars and electric drum kits.

Turnover last year was £10.2m, up from £7m in 2009. Five per cent of sales are from Europe.

Mr Wass told the Yorkshire Post: “We are going to keep growing as quickly as we can and hopefully get to the stage where we will become the number one player in our market place. We want to expand into Europe, have lots more of our own brand products and serve our customers betters so they buy more from us.”

Gear4music.com was founded in 2003 and has a showroom at York Business Park.

Mr Wass said: “We are fairly sure that the future is going to be e-commerce backed with face-to-face retail. Doing both these things really well is where the successful companies are going to be.

“We might explore high street retail more in the future, but at the moment we are going to focus on online expansion plans.”

With the investment, KCP director Mark Buttler takes a place on the board. The company also gets a new chairman, Dean Murray, a non-executive director at French Connection.

Mr Buttler said: “The combination of established brand names and high-quality own-brand instruments has attracted a strong customer base with great potential for further growth in the UK market.

“We believe the company has a foothold in the European e-commerce market and we anticipate revenue from European markets to increase considerably following our investment.”

Mr Wass, who used to run a recording studio, sold computers online before moving into the musical instruments market.

His company sources own-label goods from the Far East.

Products include an electric guitar with amplifier package for £85.

Mr Wass said the business has benefited from consumers looking for “extremely good value”.

@bernardginns