STRONG sales of guitars, keyboards and home recording kits before Christmas helped boost trade for a York-based online music retailer.

Gear4Music, the largest UK-based online retailer of musical instruments and music equipment, has reported a 10 per cent rise in UK sales for the three months to December 31, 2020 to £23m.

The listed company also saw a 51 per cent rise in sales to Europe and the rest of the world to £29.2m.

Gross profits in the final quarter were up 47 per cent (from £10.6m to £15.6m), and it now expects full-year earnings to be ahead of expectations, and not less than £16.5m (up from £7.8m last year).

Chief executive officer Andrew Wass said: "Strong growth during the period has been driven by products that can be used and played at home, including guitars, keyboards and home recording equipment.

"We know many of our customers are looking forward to rehearsing and performing together again, and as social distancing restrictions are eased, we expect our Live Sound, Drums and Orchestral categories to return to stronger growth.

"As expected, the end of the Brexit transition period and the UK's departure from the EU customs union was not without its challenges, which we had extensively planned for and have carefully managed. New cross border processing costs have been introduced, alongside the added complexity and cost of additional rules of origin duties contained within the Brexit trade deal.

"The planned scale-up of our European hub infrastructure has provided a solid operational platform to help overcome these challenges, and also helped to mitigate the impact of port closures in December 2020 as a result of Covid. Whilst there are further refinements for us to make, I am pleased that the planned reconfiguration of our delivery systems and transport network has performed well, and has supported stronger trading since 1 January 2021 than the board had initially expected."