A two year development programme has resulted in Leeds-based electronics and manufacturing specialist Sound Leisure this month starting production of the Vinyl Rocket Jukebox, the first vinyl jukebox to be manufactured by the company in 25 years and the only vinyl jukebox being manufactured anywhere in the world.
The second generation family business which dates back to 1978, has established a world wide reputation for its range of jukeboxes with 75% of its classic products already exported overseas. In 2014, the company embarked on a project to re-develop their original vinyl playing mechanism, a major feat in today’s digital environment and one that even included the redevelopment of a brand new cartridge to hold the styli, employing over 100 people, 5 new jobs have been created at Sound Leisure’s 80,000sq ft manufacturing facility in Crossgates following a £250,000 investment.
“Previously, our customers tended to be those who remembered the heyday of jukeboxes in the 1940s and ‘50s, but over the last ten years, we’ve seen growing interest from much younger people. This, together with the fact that vinyl is fashionable once again, led to us starting to develop a vinyl playing jukebox,” explains Chris Black, managing director of Sound Leisure. “These are really becoming lifestyle products, which not only create a wonderful centre piece in any location but normally appreciate in value – our customers realise that they’re buying quality in these hand built British machines, it’s a little bit of our heritage which they’ll have forever and pass on to the next generation.
“Already, before we have really started marketing the vinyl jukeboxes, we have a six month waiting list and we expect the revenue from our classic jukeboxes to generate around £2m of revenue within the next 18 months. It’s fantastic not only for Yorkshire, creating additional jobs here and helping to build the region’s worldwide reputation for craftsmanship, but also for our many suppliers as, wherever possible, we try to source components from other local businesses.”
In order to enable it to focus on developing its range of classic jukeboxes, Sound Leisure has recently teamed up with US-based TouchTunes, the largest in-venue interactive music and entertainment platform, with jukeboxes in over 65,000 bars and restaurants across North America. The partnership sees Sound Leisure becoming the sole distributor in the UK of TouchTunes digital jukeboxes for pubs and restaurants as well as providing a full after sales service.
Fiona Marr, senior associate in the commercial team at Leeds law firm Clarion which advised Sound Leisure on its agreement with TouchTunes, said: “This partnership is of huge strategic importance for Sound Leisure, not only is it expected to generate a significant increase in sales for the company’s commercial jukebox division, it will also allow Sound Leisure to develop markets at home and overseas for its famous classic jukeboxes as well as growing some of its smaller divisions such as SL Kids which provides ‘distraction areas’ for children; and its interactive sound and lighting operation that is used in many visitor attractions throughout the UK.
“It’s quite an achievement for Yorkshire to boast the only vinyl jukebox being manufactured anywhere in the world and testimony to the vision and innovation of a great local business!”
Sound Leisure has a turnover of £6m, employs 100 people and has sold over 50,000 jukeboxes globally.
Picture shows: Chris Black (foreground) of Sound Leisure with his brother Michael (left) and Matthew Hattersley of Clarion