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West Yorkshire instrument supplier making sweet music for 50 years

10 December 2015

A West Yorkshire musical instrument and equipment supplier, which boasts Midge Ure, Bon Jovi and Aerosmith amongst endorsers of its products, is set for a period of expansion and growth as it celebrates its 50th anniversary of trading this year.

John Hornby Skewes & Co. Ltd, is a world-renowned specialist in the design, manufacture and distribution of musical instruments and accessories, instrument amplification and professional audio equipment. It distributes a range of world-leading third party brands, covering multiple categories across over 6000 lines to resellers across the UK and Eire. It also operates a busy export business for its proprietary brands such as Fret-King, Vintage, Encore, Odyssey, Antoni and Kinsman, where these and other brands are represented in over ninety countries.

The business operates from more than 65,000 square feet of warehousing and office space in Garforth – the site which has been home since 1992 after occupying various office and warehouse spaces in the town since the business was formed in the mid 1960s at the height of Beatle-mania.

The £10m turnover business employs 68 people from its Garforth base, some of who have been with the company more than 30 years.

This year the business celebrates its Golden Jubilee, and owners are anticipating a period of growth and expansion as it looks to develop and introduce new products and target new markets, with the support of Yorkshire Bank.

The company has been a customer of Yorkshire Bank since 2001, a relationship which helped enable the business become one of the largest and highly respected instrument suppliers in the world. The Bank provides around £1m worth of facilities such as treasury services and finance to aid with importing and exporting.

The business was started by John Skewes and his wife Madge in 1965, trading from home, using John’s experiences as a UK sales representative for the German company Hohner, before which he worked for the guitar and amplifier maker Fenton Weill.

Dennis Drumm, Managing Director, is the son-in-law of Chairman and founder John Skewes, who started the business and still keeps a day-to-day eye on operations.

Dennis said: “In today’s global economy, not many businesses reach their 50th year so it is testament to the vision and hard work of our founder, his family and everyone involved in the business now and over the last five decades that we are able to celebrate our Golden Jubilee in 2015.

“The music industry continues to evolve and we pride ourselves on developing strong relationships with our customers, providing a huge variety of different products across a range of diverse categories and working with our customers to bring value to their businesses.

“We’ve also been fortunate to have a banking partner in Yorkshire Bank since 2001, which has worked hard to understand our business and provide us with the support we need as we’ve grown.”

As well as a warehouse and headquarters in Garforth, the company operates a boutique fretted instrument retail outlet in London, the world famous – Ivor Mairants Musicentre, also founded in the mid-sixties and the place where virtually every famous guitarist you could name was a customer. JHS also produces its own consumer music products magazine – Gear – for buyers and enthusiasts.

June Hartley, Relationship Manager at Yorkshire Bank’s Business and Private Banking Centre in Leeds, said: “John Hornby Skewes was the perfect example of a family-owned and run business, which has grown and explored new markets.”

“John Hornby Skewes leads the way”, June continued, “in supplying and distributing high quality and sought-after musical instruments and equipment. It has a global reputation for its range of products and attention to detail and customer service.”

“Like any company to have reached such a milestone of 50 years in business, the owners and management team have been through strong economic periods, as well as more challenging times. However, they have proved to be resilient by creating a strong financial footing while innovating to meet changing customer demands.”

Yorkshire Bank has strengthened its support for UK SMEs by becoming the first to partner with the British Business Bank on its ENABLE Guarantees programme. Up to £125m of new lending by Yorkshire Banks, will help more small businesses achieve their growth ambitions.

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