A LEADING online music retailer head-quartered in York is celebrating a 'transformational' trading performance which has topped expectations.

Gear4Music, which has become the largest UK-based online retailer of musical instruments and music equipment since its launch in 2003, has seen sales surge during lockdown as people have turned to music for entertainment and for their mental health.

Its latest year-end trading update reveals an 31 per cent rise in sales to £157.5m, with UK sales accounting for £78m, up by 27 per cent, for the 12 months to March 31, 2021. Earnings are expected to be over £19m, ahead of current market expectations, up from £8m in 2020 and £2.3m in 2019.

The York-based firm, which has more than 1.3 million registered customers, sells a wide range of music gear from orchestral instruments to rock 'n' roll as well as recording and studio equipment.

Gear4music’s chief executive officer, Andrew Wass, said: “I am very pleased to be reporting results that are ahead of our previous expectations, representing a transformational FY21 trading performance for the Group, and building on the significant progress we made in 2020.

"Further improvements in gross margins have driven our profits to record levels, amplified by the previously reported exceptional sales growth and marketing efficiencies which were driven by COVID19 lockdowns, particularly evident during Q1 FY21.

"As part of the Group’s ongoing strategy, the new enlarged banking facility will help us to accelerate our longer-term ambitions. As we lay the foundationsin FY22 for the next stage of our growth journey,

in addition to establishing new sales verticals, we will further strengthen our European distribution network, accelerate investment into our e-commerce platform, and consider acquisition opportunities

as they arise.

"Whilst it is still very early in the new financial year, we are pleased with FY22 trading to date, relative to the exceptional period of trading during April FY21. We also remain mindful of the ongoing global

pandemic and operational challenges posed by Brexit, but are confident that we have appropriate plans in place to mitigate their effects.

"Underpinned by our strong financial position, the Board is confident that our online business model and specialist market knowledge, supported by our Europe-wide operational platform, will continue

to deliver long-term sustainable and profitable growth.”

Gear4Music has its head office in York as well as distribution centres and showrooms in York, Sweden and Germany, with customer ranging from beginners to musical enthusiasts and professionals, in the UK, Europe and, more recently, globally.

It has developed its own e-commerce platform, with multilingual and multicurrency websites delivering to more than 190 countries.