Cricket legend Lord Ian Botham visits Leeds jukebox manufacturer Sound Leisure

Lord Ian Botham’s trips to Yorkshire often resulted in rousing performances which left indelible impressions on cricket’s history books.

His 149 not out in the second innings of the legendary Headingley Test match of 1981 helped to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and proved to be a highlight of a summer which saw England stage a stunning fightback to retain the Ashes.

In his 102 Test matches Lord Botham scored more than 5,000 runs, including 14 centuries, took 383 wickets, and 120 catches. In his new role as the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Australia, the former England cricket captain visited Sound Leisure in Leeds to hear about the company’s plans for global expansion. The manufacturer of classic jukeboxes, which has exported to Australia for over 20 years, has sold 15 of its jukeboxes to Australia in the last 12 months.

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Employing more than 40 people at its Leeds head office and manufacturing centre, the £5m revenue family-owned Sound Leisure sells 80 per cent of its products overseas to customers in 40 countries , including Australia, the US and Japan.

Mike Black, the director of Sound Leisure, is pictured with Lord BothamMike Black, the director of Sound Leisure, is pictured with Lord Botham
Mike Black, the director of Sound Leisure, is pictured with Lord Botham

Celebrities, royalty and famous athletes are among the buyers of its retro-design state of the art vinyl and digital jukeboxes.

“Sound Leisure is a mainly export business, and anytime we can move forward our knowledge of overseas markets, and share our experiences and insights with other exporters and businesses, we grab the opportunity,” said Sound Leisure director Mike Black.

Mr Black escorted Lord Botham on a tour of the firm’s 80,000 sq ft manufacturing facility, where he was shown how Sound Leisure classic jukeboxes are hand built by a team of skilled craftsmen.

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Mr Black said: “It was great to welcome Lord Botham to our factory today and he was really impressed to see the levels of skill and craftsmanship that go into building these intricate and innovative machines which we have been producing here in Leeds for 45 years.

“We’re a family-run British manufacturing business and exports, including to Australia, make up a huge amount of our business. We’re proud to have been named an Export Champion for the Northern Powerhouse once again this year by the Department of Business and Trade.”

Lord Botham’s role as trade envoy is an unpaid and voluntary one, aimed at boosting British business in Australia.

The factory tour was followed by an Export Champions’ round table, organised by the Department of Business and Trade and held at the Sound Leisure manufacturing facility.

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Sound Leisure is the only manufacturer in the world producing classic jukeboxes for vinyl, CD and digital music formats.

Established in Leeds in 1978 by current managing director Chris Black’s father Alan, it was the first UK company to design, develop and build a commercially viable and widely adopted jukebox platform.

The business went on to pioneer the early development of digitised music platforms in the 1980s and was responsible for the reintroduction of vinyl jukeboxes in 2016. Sound Leisure has continued to grow and export its jukeboxes worldwide while many of the long-established manufacturers such as Seeburg and Wurlitzer have fallen by the wayside, success the company puts down to its ongoing commitment to developing better products and technologies and “an unfading focus on high quality British manufacturing”.