Sam Ash Music Acquired by Gonher Music: Revival Predicted to Rival Sweetwater in 3-4 Years

Retail industry analysts speculate on Sam Ash Music’s future following its acquisition by Mexican retailer Gonher Music Center.

In March, widespread reports indicated that Sam Ash Music would close 18 branches nationwide, including its flagship New York store, as it struggled against the burgeoning online gear boom. A few months later, Sam Ash announced the closure of all its stores and confirmed it had filed for bankruptcy. The retailer was evaluating the sale of its e-commerce operations and related intellectual property at that time.

Now, after an asset auction, Retail Dive reports that Gonher Music Center has emerged as the court-approved buyer, securing a selection of Sam Ash’s wholesale and online assets with a $15.2 million offer.

Sam Ash’s Marketing Manager, Ben Ash, a descendant of the firm’s founder and namesake, discussed the retail chain’s decline in the July issue of Music Inc Magazine. He revealed how changing buying habits and the proliferation of online shopping alternatives prompted the closures and everything that followed.

“Unfortunately, despite the sentiment that instruments and pro-audio gear are dependent on feel and sound, our business model was not immune to this alteration in shopping habits,” Ash explains.

“Perhaps we could have been more proactive in closing a few store locations that were not as profitable as we needed them to be, but from our perspective, we always viewed music stores as having an important role in the customer journey.”

Ash highlights the impacts of Covid, brands establishing direct-to-consumer sales strategies, and the expansion of product lines, which led to Sam Ash struggling to compete with digital outlets.

However, Ash remains optimistic about the future of Sam Ash, declaring: “Our hope is to have the Sam Ash Music legacy continue, and we’re exploring all possible options to achieve this.”

It now seems likely this will be achieved through a renewed digital retail strategy, bolstered by Gonher’s backing. Sam Ash had already attempted to enhance its digital strategy before the store closures and bankruptcy filing, and this effort could continue in the coming years.

Via Retail Dive, CAD Management music consultant Clayton Durant hypothesized a bright future for Sam Ash.

“If Gonher successfully acquires Sam Ash’s intellectual property and e-commerce assets,” Durant said, “I foresee a completely revamped online strategy for Sam Ash, supported by Gonher Music Center, leading to a revival in 3-4 years that puts them toe-to-toe with Sweetwater, if the online experience is managed right.”

Retail Dive suggests that Sam Ash could also compete with Guitar Center, another retailer that balances its 300 store locations with a prolific online business.

It’s still early days, but with Gonher’s $15.2 million purchase completed, Ben Ash’s hope to “have the Sam Ash Music legacy continue” could well become a reality – at least online – in the not-too-distant future.

Keep your eyes peeled on Sam Ash’s website for future updates.

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