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OPINION: PMT's Simon Gilson on 'clicks vs. bricks'

Laura  Barnes
OPINION: PMT's Simon Gilson on 'clicks vs. bricks'

Despite a general consensus in the industry that online is taking over offline sales, the likes of PMT are still expanding their high street offerings. Simon Gilson discusses why he believes a physical store is still a fantastic way to keep customers engaged…

Last Saturday saw the opening of PMT’s relocated and massively larger Oxford store.

Way back in 1994 this was the third site opened by the then still fledgling MI retailer.

Who could have envisaged then that the Essex based duo behind three small stores would become the founders of the empire that is S&T Audio today.
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PMT, although having a strong online presence through PMTonline and Dolphin have always been a huge investor in bricks and mortar.

With Oxford now joining the other 14 as an A store, once again the emphasis of the company's focus is great stores with knowledgeable, helpful staff to promote and maximise the best possible retail experience.

Everything we read in the media says that this continuing commitment to real stores is a fool’s game and that we should be turning all our efforts into etail as opposed to retail.

I’d say they couldn’t be more wrong!

After nearly twenty six years since the first “everything crossed” opening, not knowing what the day would bring in terms of reaction or business, Terry and myself found ourselves at our 20th Grand Opening – once again not really knowing what the day would bring.

After the usual 48 hours of chaos and mayhem preceding the doors opening at 9.30, at 9am a tired crew lead by Terry and myself (buns provided by our great friend Mark Gooday from Ashdown) gathered for a pre-opening staff meeting. At this point there were already around 50 people queuing in the car park.

We all thought that to get that many queuing for anything that early on a Saturday morning was fantastic, but by the time we were ready to cut the ribbon we had the press, TV and over a hundred people cheering as the doors opened.

The excitement and comments as people investigated our new location could not have been better and although we didn’t count the number of customers to enter the premises, we estimate between four and five hundred, making it the most successful opening in our company's history.

I think that, if given the right reasons to do so customers still love to shop and always will when it comes to something special or where touch and feel are such an important part of the buying process.

I’m glad to say that the number of people through the door was reflected in the business for the day, but that’s not the most important factor in terms of business model overall.

The fact that so many people were so excited to see a new showcase and be a part of that experience shows that although we live in these times of dramatic change, great stores have an essential role in the promotion and sale of musical instruments.

The industry needs to realise the huge value both in terms of sales, and the promotion of playing in general, that great stores add!

We all need our online presence but I do believe there needs to be a conscious effort to promote and preserve physical retail. Not because it suits a company like PMT, but because it’s the best way to engage customers and keep them engaged!

For more information about PMT’s new Oxford store visit

Tags: Retail , pmt , simon gilson , Opinion

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