Czech firm hits right tune with vinyl records in fashion

Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:25am EDT
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By Jana Mlcochova

PRAGUE (Reuters) - When vinyl record sales hit bottom in the late 1980s, managers at Czech record producer GZ Media in a small town near Prague were wondering what to do with their idle record pressing machines.

They decided not to get rid of them and put them in garages at the company's backyard. That was a lucky move.

As vinyl retro-mania started spreading around the world a decade later, the firm dusted off the presses and is now spinning profits on records for the likes of the Rolling Stones, U2, Bob Dylan and David Bowie.

With 7 million records made in 2012 and an expected 10 million this year, GZ Media says it is the world's biggest vinyl record producer, making records for Universal Music Group, Sony Music and now beginning to cooperate with Warner Music.

"Vinyl is an inscrutable animal," Jiri Hasek, the company's commercial director told Reuters. "Everybody is waiting for when the growth will slow, but instead it keeps accelerating."

Vinyl record production accounts for about 30 percent of GZ Media's sales, which reached 1.8 billion crowns ($93 million) last year.

The company also makes sophisticated packaging for expensive consumer goods such as mobile phones, electronics and whisky.

Founded in 1948 as Gramofonove Zavody Lodenice, the central record producer in the then-communist bloc, GZ Media pressed its first record in 1951.   Continued...

Employee Eva Sipova removes a new record from the press machine as part of the creation process for vinyl records at the GZ Media factory in Lodenice August 1, 2013. REUTERS/Petr Josek