The best customers in the World, HMV goes into administration and why 2019 won’t be a walk in the park - A message from Vinyl Revolution's founders

11.01.19

THE BEST CUSTOMERS IN THE WORLD

We truly do have the best customers in the World and now 53 of you own 10% of Vinyl Revolution!

Many of you will have read that Vinyl Revolution was not in a good place before Christmas.  In a nutshell we had run out of money.  We had excellent stock and a fabulous business with great growth potential but with footfall at an all time low during much of 2018 and a Christmas that wasn’t really happening we had a cash flow crisis.  It is now known that this Christmas was the worst since the financial crash of 2008).  We asked for help and boy did you deliver!  Within just one week 53 of you had invested over £33k and purchased almost 10% of equity in Vinyl Revolution.

Over 5000 UK shops closed in 2018 (at a rate of 14 per day) and we are so so grateful that Vinyl Revolution’s name was not added to this list.  Here is a video of us celebrating on Christmas Eve just after we realised that Vinyl Revolution would continue into 2019.

 

HMV GOES INTO ADMINISTRATION

It was chilling to hear about HMV going into administration just 4 days after we learnt that Vinyl Revolution was safe.  We’ve been interviewed by the press and many customers have asked us for our reaction to this news.  The truth is that our views are mixed.  Firstly, like virtually all music lovers in the UK (or certainly those of us who can remember life before the internet) we loved the British institution that was HMV.  Not every town had an indie record shop so HMV became the local hub for music fans.  Simon’s first record store job was at HMV in Brighton and it was there that he met  lifelong friends and future band mates.  Pilgrimages to the HMV megastore on Oxford Street were sacred.  In short HMV was an important part of our lives and none of us will celebrate its closure or the job losses this will create. 

However it is also true to say that HMV has not been the same since it went into administration 6 years ago and was bought by American private equity company Hilco.  Hilco was, to put it bluntly, only in it for the money (the latest reports about them having siphoned off profits into other companies can leave us in no doubt about this) and this lack of passion for the business saw HMV lose a lot of what made it special. 

It’s also true to say that some of HMV’s business practices won't be missed.  Their size and buying power allows them to sell high selling albums at loss leader prices lower than the cost an indie shop can buy them for.  They are also able to buy up vast stocks of records on sale and return (an option not open to most indie shops) and negotiate exclusive record releases not available to others.  This has created unfair challenges for indie shops throughout the UK and we'll look forward to being on a level playing field with other record shops should HMV fail to be rescued.

Lastly the impact of HMV’s closure on record distributors cannot be underestimated.  HMV sells one third of all UK records, putting it ahead of Amazon.  What the impact of their closure will be nobody knows but it’s likely that the knock on effect will be great, and probably not in a way that will benefit indie shops.

So to answer your question, should you have asked it, we will be both sad, a little relieved and more than a little concerned about the closure of HMV.  On the plus side, what we have absolutely no doubt about, is that the 100’s of fantastic indie shops across the UK will be more than happy to look after customers seeking a new local record store. 

2019 WON'T BE A WALK IN THE PARK

We are enormously thankful to have received a cash injection that has allowed us to make it safely into 2019, and we remain excited about all the opportunities which this new year will bring.  We are however under no illusions that 2019 is going to be a walk in the park.  In fact it has just been predicted that another 10,000 shops will close in 2019.

There are many reasons why 2018 was so tough for retailers but the main culprit is Brexit.  When people are unsure about job security, and in fear about what the future will bring, they spend less money on non-essentials.  Whilst we can talk until the cows come home about why everyone should have a record player and a huge record collection, we do understand that this is perhaps a lower priority than paying the electricity bill!  For that reason a vast number of retailers won’t be safe until some semblance of normality returns to the UK.  

You may also have heard us refer to the double whammy that Brighton is experiencing by being hit by both Brexit and a major rail infrastructure project.  So that you can fully understand what we are up against here is a graphic showing rail closures.

The eagle eyed amongst you will already have spotted that not only are there replacement buses (which most people avoid like the plague) running on a huge number of weekends but more disastrously over bank holidays and the whole of February’s half term.  Rail closures have already reduced Brighton's visitor footfall dramatically and it was no surprise to see the company behind Brighton’s Palace Pier issuing a profits warning yesterday citing rail closures as the main reason.  Vinyl Revolution is a family oriented shop that relies on visitors being able to reach Brighton.  These rail closures are enormously harmful.

So to summarise - both Brexit and the rail closures remain a threat to Vinyl Revolution and we won’t be fully safe until they are both a thing of the past. 

YOU CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

The support that you continue to give us leaves us in no doubt that you value Vinyl Revolution and want us to prosper and grow.  Thank you so much, we do not take your support for granted!  Here are 4 ways in which you can continue to help us:

1.  Keep coming into the shop - If you can’t come in person you can buy online or phone us and place an order over the phone.  We home deliver everything except framed art prints and send our products all over the World.  We might not be able to offer free deliver like Amazon but we do pay our taxes!

  1. 2.  Tell your friends and family about us.  We are still a very young business and most people still don’t know that we exist!  Please talk about us, share this newsletter, review us on Facebook and Google and  like and share our posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

3.  Don’t forget that Vinyl Revolution may be all about the music but it’s not just about the records.  When you’re shopping for gifts please don’t forget that we also sell fabulous Clothing, Art Prints, Record Players and Home Stuff.  Our Bowie Babygro and kids t-shirt was The Guardian’s most shared Christmas Gift last year but a Babygro is not just for Christmas!

4.  Tell us what you want to buy and place an advance order with us.  We are going to have to be very cautious when purchasing over the next few months whilst the shop remains quiet.  Of course we’ll still have racks full of classic Rock and Pop and the most popular new releases but we won’t be able to take a punt on anything we are not sure is going to sell - so please forgive us if we don’t have the latest Sun Ra or Throbbing Gristle release in stock!   BUT we are always happy to hear what you want to buy from us (in fact it’s really helpful) and to take an advance order for something you are unable to live without.  So please call, email or pop in and help us supply you with the stuff you want to buy.

We know that there are many more good times just around the corner.  We’re in this together so let’s make 2019 a year to remember!

Happy New Year!!!

Simon and Rachel