Gear4music boss Andrew Wass has cooled his interest in opening a flagship London showroom after admitting property is “too expensive”.
The music equipment etailer had previously targeted a bricks-and-mortar presence of up to 12,000 sq ft in the capital, having already launched a 9,000 sq ft showroom in York.
Gear4music had set its sights on securing a unit near Denmark Street – a traditional hub of music retailers – but has now switched focus after balking at rents.
Speaking after Gear4music reported its first full-year figures since listing on the Stock Exchange last year, which delivered a modest pre-tax profit of £6,000 following one-off IPO costs, Wass said: “We talked about a London showroom when we did the IPO and we are still really interested in doing that, but we know what’s happening to London property prices, so we are finding that slightly elusive at the minute in terms of getting the right deal.
“We don’t want to tie ourselves up to a long-term lease that ends up being a complete pain.
“Whether we find somewhere next month, next year or the year after that, we will not rush into it and we’ll make sure we do a very sensible commercial deal when that may eventually happen.”
Wass added: “We are not going to specify a period of time, because it’s had to become a low priority. If you look at our European plan, that has become more exciting for us.
“For a lower cost, we can achieve more, we think, rather than investing in a central London showroom. It’s just really expensive.
“Two or three years ago, when we were looking at pricing and we had this plan, it all seemed very sensible, very doable. But even in the space of the last 12 months, suddenly with the prices going up as they have, it just makes less sense than it did for us.”
Wass said Gear4music would instead focus on four key strategic pillars in his bid to grow the business: developing its ecommerce platforms, improving its marketing, extending its product range and expanding in Europe.
Gear4music already operates 18 websites outside the UK, including in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium.
Wass said the business is doing “fairly well in most of those territories” and insisted there was “no standout” performer within those markets.
European sales jumped 73% to £9.5m in the year ending February 29 and now account for almost a third of Gear4music’s revenues.
But Wass is aiming to maintain that growth on the continent as his number one priority.
“The top 10 countries in Europe, we think, is about a £4.3bn market,” he added. “We did £10m in Europe this last year, so we are at the beginning of that journey.
“It is growing very quickly for us, so it’s just about keeping that growth and accelerating it further if we can.”