Sound World

About Sound World
Born during December 1974



 
Sound World - The Inception
by Spero Davias

Sound World, a retail music store, was established in December 1974 as a partnership, in the Newcastle suburb of Cardiff.  Both partners were managing separate ventures at the time, but came together in our shared love of music to create the store.

Whilst both had considerable business acumen, neither knew much about this side of the music business. Armed with contacts from my work as an electrical contractor, I took the opportunity to accompany Reg Mason (on the verge of selling his own record store, Impact Sounds) to forge connections with record company managers. I also borrowed heavily on store layout ideas from Neil's record shop in Wallsend. On a very limited budget we set to work, transforming the Cardiff space into a haven for music enthusiasts.

Sound World Cardiff
Sound World Cardiff 1974

To capitalise on the Christmas trading period, we had to devise creative ideas to maximise revenue. Record racks were filled with blank record covers that were used to secure customer orders. By end of the day’s trade, those orders were relayed to suppliers like Warner Bros, EMI, Phillips, RCA, CBS, Astor and 7 Records. Then we would drive to Sydney that evening to pick up and pay for stock (left at Reception) with the money obtained from that days' shop trading. This regular routine, fuelled by the day's earnings, often culminated in our return well past midnight and over time helped establish much needed cash flow to consolidate the business.

A few months later, while wrapping up electrical work, I chanced on a “For Lease” sign in the busy Newcastle suburb of Mayfield. I called my partner and proposed the idea of expanding our business to Mayfield and we swiftly secured a lease to this site. With the help of local builder Malcolm Fraser, we set about an extensive store fit-out to open by April 1975. 

By this time, the dynamics of the business partnership proved less harmonious which prompted a decision to part ways in November 1975. With a simple toss of a coin, the fate of each store was sealed – Mayfield became solely mine and the Cardiff store became my partners.

With a great team, the Mayfield store flourished, boasting remarkable turnovers that kept customers lingering well past closing time. However, I found the space too large for my needs so I looked at incorporating a solution that would optimise the space and enrich the shopping experience

Record store racks
Record Store racks

Garry and Kevin from their King St Jeanery store in the CBD agreed to expand into half of the space.  Archways were installed seamlessly connecting the businesses whilst allowing for distinct identities and offerings. This enriched the shopping experience for customers, cementing this location as a “happening” place for the latest trendy offerings in music and fashion.

As my focus shifted, my electrical contracting business tapered off, drawn by the immediate financial rewards of retail. Yet, fuelled by a desire to innovate, I yearned to integrate my technical expertise into the business through computerisation, a vision that necessitated expansion.

In 1980, Newcastle's largest record store 'Green Apple' was advertised for sale at the Kotara Fair Shopping Centre. After negotiations, a deal was struck – one that carried a high price tag, a hefty investment- but one that paved the way for my ambitious expansion plans.

Not long after the acquisition of the Green Apple, I wanted to rebrand the Kotara store to match the Mayfield store. Once again, I used Malcolm Fraser to do the shop fitout. Balancing the demands of daytime trading with the need for renovation, we embarked on a gruelling schedule of night time refurbishments. The walkway outside the shop became the makeshift workspace, and for months this routine persisted until completion.

For some years Sound World Kotara boasted brisk trade and outstanding turnover which validated the time, effort and money that had been expended. However, the winds of change swept through Kotara Fair when it was sold to AMP Properties, heralding a total refurbishment and expansion plans with its re-branding as Garden City. We were sold on being part of their future vision and asked to weather the storm. In 1986 we were assigned to trade in a small space in the re-purposed David Jones multi-story car park no bigger than an average bathroom.

This 'forced' move had ominous financial implications. Severely reduced cash flow would necessitate the sale of the Mayfield store and the search for other retail premises.  A space became available in the city centre Hunter St Mall, opposite the iconic David Jones, and after months of preparation, we opened another store on June 23, 1986. Trade in the Kotara carpark was very slow but operations continued in the hope and expectation of a favourable location in the refurbished centre ...finally opened an architect designed store in 1988

Sound World Mayfield 1976

In December 1989 Newcastle was struck by an earthquake which shut down all business in Newcastle CBD whilst engineers certified every building for safety. This closure took many weeks, once again impacting negatively on cash flow and led to an overall decline in business.

With the end of the Hunter St store lease, another opportunity presented with a large space vacant one block east from there. Lease negotiations proceeded and a Sound World MegaStore was opened in September 1992 a testament to resilience and ambition in the face of adversity. Amidst the lingering aftermath of the earthquake, trading in our new Mega Store saw modest results, reflecting the gradual recovery of the Hunter St Mall. However, our Garden City Kotara store faced its own upheavals, undergoing multiple temporary relocations before settling into its final location in the main Mall May 1995.

Driven by a vision of continued expansion, I seized the chance to lease a vacant shop in Maitland's main street, owned by none other than a former employer from my apprentice days, Bill Miller. After lease negotiations, the premises underwent a fit-out and opened its doors in July 1997. Maitland Sound World enjoyed buoyant trade and strong revenues for 6 years until we sold the business in 2003.

In 2004, lease renewal negotiations for Sound World Westfield were started. The new lease attracted an 100% increase in the annual rent. All efforts to negotiate were rebutted and we had no option but to walk away after a tenure of over 24 years. Despite local media support, Westfield management were unsympathetic and immovable.

Sound World Mayfield
Sound World Mayfield 1976

Overview

By the mid 1980's Sound World had 5 retail stores, located throughout Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, creating the largest music retail chain in Newcastle. During March 1983, Sound World was incorporated into an Australian Pty Limited Company. Sound World's founding director and CEO, was also heavily involved with technology, which evolved part of the business being retail music whilst the other part concentrated on high tech sales and installations. Led by CEO, the company diversified its portfolio, venturing into technology sales and installations alongside its core music retail business. Embracing the digital age, Sound World pioneered online commerce in 1995, carving a niche as one of Australia's early web-based enterprises. A transformative restructure in 2006 saw the company pivot away from local retail outlets, shifting focus to high-tech markets such as Voice over IP, wireless broadband, and tech product importation and distribution, marking a bold stride into the future of technology innovation and commerce.

Sound World began its online web store during 'the web pioneering days' of 1995. We were one of the early Australian companies on the web. During 2006, Sound World undertook a major restructure, winding down its local retail business outlets and outsourcing it's on line music sales from the world's leading music providers. As part of the new restructure, Sound World is now concentrating further within the hi tech market, Voice over IP technology, High speed wireless broadband, importing and distribution of tech products as well as investigating and marketing new technology.



Copyright 1995 to 2024

Sound World Enterprises Newcastle Australia - spero@soundworld.com.au
Established in 1974 and on line in 1995
The last store was closed in 2006

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