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Australian Music Retailer Sanity to Close Its Physical Stores

Australian Music Retailer Sanity to Close Its Physical Stores

BRISBANE, Australia — It’s closing time for Sanity, the once-great Australian music retail specialist which confirmed it would close all its bricks-and-mortar stores in the coming months.

In a statement issued Wednesday (Jan. 4), Sanity announced plans to close its remaining 50 stores by the end of April 2023, in line with the lease expiry of each outlet.

It’s a sad end to a music and entertainment chain which, like so many brands in the business of racking physical soundcarriers, has been left behind as consumers move to streaming platforms.

“With our customer shifting to digital for their visual and music content consumption, and with diminishing physical content available to sell to our customer, it has made it impossible to continue with our physical stores,” explains Sanity CEO and owner Ray Itaoui.

Despite the “challenging and ever evolving entertainment landscape,” the Sanity business has “prospered and remained successful for many years, quite an achievement in the fast-changing retail space,” Itaoui adds.

Founded by retail guru Brett Blundy, Sanity began life in 1980 with just one store. The retailer grew to become Australia’s leading music and retail chain, a status which has later challenged by JB Hi-Fi.

With Blundy at the helm, his Brazin company entered the U.K. in the early 2000s with the purchase of 77 Our Price branded stores from Virgin Group. The experiment ended in 2003 when Brazin sold its 118 Sanity Entertainment U.K. stores to an investment firm for an estimated £12 million ($16.67 million).

A consortium led by Itaoui acquired the business from Brett Blundy Retail Capital (BBRC) in 2009, when the Sanity chain boasted 238 stores across Australia, including Sanity and the domestic branches of U.K. High Street brands Virgin and HMV.

In the late 2000s, Sanity launched what it claimed was Australia’s first online music subscription service, LoadIt, at a time when the business had an estimated 23%-25% share of Australia’s physical music retail market. LoadIt shut down in early 2009.

Digital platforms, and streaming, in particular, is how Australians consume music in the 2020s.

The recorded music market in these parts expanded by 4.4% to A$565.8 million ($421 million) in 2021, for the third successive year of growth, according to trade body ARIA. Subscription services, contributed $377 million ($281 million) that year, up 4.1% from A$317 million ($236 million) in 2020.

Sanity’s online business will continue to operate, and the team is currently working to dispatch all over-the-counter orders, including pre-orders.

“There is so much to be proud of,” adds Itaoui. The Sanity brand “became synonymous with the go-to place to get anything that mattered in the world of music: from vinyl, to CDs and DVDs, hardware, accessories, and of course face to face advice on everything musical.”

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