It’s a (45rpm) record: 45 years of Jumbo in Leeds

Manager at Jumbo Records, Adam Gillison, with Rod Stewart's 'Every Picture tells a Story'. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Manager at Jumbo Records, Adam Gillison, with Rod Stewart's 'Every Picture tells a Story'. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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THROUGHOUT THE past four-and-a-half decades, it has been a flag bearer for Leeds’s independent music scene.

But 10 years ago, the future of record stores across the nation looked far from certain with the arrival of digital downloads as customers began to turn their backs on the High Street to buy their music online.

Sarah Jane Mathers-Reilly at Jumbo Records with the celebratory 45rpm 7inch single featuring the Leeds bands Menace Beach and Post War Glamour Girls.

Sarah Jane Mathers-Reilly at Jumbo Records with the celebratory 45rpm 7inch single featuring the Leeds bands Menace Beach and Post War Glamour Girls.

However, Jumbo Records in Leeds city centre is enjoying a renaissance that many had feared would never happen with the rapid growth in vinyl sales which has saved the independent record store sector from terminal decline.

And staff at the shop will celebrate the anniversary after it was founded in 1971 by paying homage to the vinyl revival by with the release of a special 45rpm single.

The manager of Jumbo Records, Adam Gillison, who has himself worked at the store for 20 years, told The Yorkshire Post that the future is now looking bright for the shop - and other independent record retailers.

Mr Gillison said: “About 10 years ago, things were not looking great. When things are at their worst, you never know how bad they are going to get. But over the last decade, we have seen an increase in vinyl sales, which have really picked up in the last three of four years. You never want to be blasé, but the future for independent record stores is looking a lot brighter.”

To cope with demand, deeper racks were introduced in Jumbo Records about a year ago to allow 10 per cent more vinyl records to be displayed, and Mr Gillison revealed that extra space may have to be introduced again.

Industry figures have shown that between 2009 and 2014, vinyl sales have seen a five-fold increase and doubling again the year after. Record sales last year hit a 21-year high of 2.1m units.

And the renaissance in vinyl, which has been attributed to music aficionados wanting to hear a purity of sound as well as a desire to have a tangible record in their collection rather than tracks stored on a computer hard-drive, has seen major supermarkets and high street chains jump on the bandwagon. Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Urban Outfitters all now stock vinyl records.

Mr Gillison said: “We have always stocked vinyl, but it has been a real bonus to see the popularity grow. I do have mixed feelings about supermarkets now stocking vinyl records, but in many ways it is all good publicity. I would hope we offer something different, and while we don’t specialise in one type of music, we will do all we can to cater for all tastes.”

The 7in single, which has been produced with record label Too Pure to make the 45th anniversary, features songs by Menace Beach and Post War Glamour Girls.

Mr Gillison said: “Someone pointed to us that it was our 45th anniversary and my initial thought was, ‘ah, another anniversary’ but then they reminded me that 45 was a significant number in the music industry. We’re all fans of the vinyl 45rpm format and we thought what a great opportunity to do something to celebrate that and us at the same time.”

From 11.30am on Saturday, the celebrations will include live music at the store from Ultimate Painting, Wilful Missing, Marsicans, Serious Sam Barrett and the Seven Inches.

• JUMBO RECORDS was founded by Hunter Smith in 1971. Originally based in the Queens Arcade, the record store moved to the Merrion Centre in 1974. In 1988, as demand rose and the need for larger premises arose, the shop relocated to units 5/6 in the St Johns Centre.

When Mr Smith and his wife Lornette retired in 2014, Jumbo was bought by the Leeds couple Leeds couple, Nick Fraser and Justinia Lewis.

Adam Gillison attributes the store’s longevity to its “pride” in its customer service.

“I think the key things are you’ve got to really know your customers and get on well and listen to them,” he said.

“If you’ve got that and you’ve got good stock then you’re well on the way.”