Iconic retailer Dawsons Music rescued from administration

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Iconic retailer Dawsons Music has been bought out of administration by Manchester Music entrepreneur Andrew M. Oliver and his wife Karen Oliver, in a deal that will save six stores and dozens of jobs across the England and Northern Ireland.

The joint administrators of Dawsons Music, Neil Gostelow and Rick Harrison from KPMG’s Restructuring practice, confirm they have sold the business and its assets to the new owners.

The business will continue to trade via a new company; Dawsons Music & Sound Ltd. which is owned and operated by Andrew & Karen’s existing company Arranged Musical Options Ltd.

Established in 1898 in Warrington, Dawsons is one of the oldest and largest retailers of musical instruments and equipment in the UK.  Although its network of six stores in Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Leeds, Reading and Belfast had been forced to close due to Covid restrictions in March, the retailer continues to trade strongly online.

The deal means that all 75 staff across the retail estate will keep their jobs.

Paul Tyrer and Steven Percy, partners in the corporate and real estate teams at Cheshire based SAS Daniels Solicitors, advised Andrew M. Oliver on the deal.

Paul said: “I am delighted that we were able to rescue this historic brand and preserve so many jobs.  Andrew has more than 21 years’ experience in the musical instrument sector and over 30 years experience as a musician.  In that time he has developed a close network of contacts across the globe.  This is a fantastic opportunity for him to drive Dawsons forward and I am sure that his strong leadership and passion for music will enable the business to flourish.”

Andrew said: “I’m excited to be taking on such a well-established brand with a strong heritage and huge potential.  It would have been a huge loss for a business that is so well known and loved to close its doors for good.  My wife and I are relishing the opportunity to lead such a strong team at Dawsons.  Both businesses completely complement each other.”

After graduating from the Royal Northern College of Music on Tuba, Andrew established Arranged Musical Options Ltd. in 1999.  Karen graduated from the R.N.C.M. in 1995 and then worked as a professional pianist and teacher.  Karen also obtained a Masters in Music Psychology in 2001. In 2000 Andrew purchased Alan Gregory Music & Musical Instruments, established in 1976 in Fallowfield, which is now in Didsbury.  The business specialises in classical and acoustic musical instruments including brass, strings, woodwind and percussion.

Dawsons sells a range of musical products and accessories, including acoustic, bass and electric guitars; amps and effects; pianos and keyboards; drums and percussion; PA & DJ equipment; orchestra instruments; sheet music books and the latest in music technology.  Dawsons also has an education division supplying instruments and technology to educational establishments in the UK and internationally.  Andrew and Karen have many plans for development of the department with the current team across the UK music education sector.

BZ Commercial Finance provided finance for the deal represented by Carol Betts and Rebecca Mills of Law firm Gateley Legal in Birmingham.

Rick Harrison and Neil Gostelow from KPMG’s restructuring practice are appointed joint administrators for Dawsons.

Rick Harrison, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “Since the outset of our appointment, we have been struck by the affection that so many people hold for this iconic retailer.  We are therefore delighted to have been able to conclude this sale, which not only ensures the Dawsons business will continue, but also safeguards employment for 75 members of staff.  We wish the new team every success for the future.”

They were advised by Hayley Phelps and Jonathan Whitbread from law firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys.

For more information follow Dawsons at www.dawsons.co.uk/blog


Andrew & Karen Oliver