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About Normans Musical Instruments

 

A Brief(ish!) History of Normans.

 

 

Normans was originally established in 1959, with the opening day on 17th September, owned jointly by Norman Willey and Joe Fearn at a small shop in Burton-upon-Trent.

In 1961, Normans incorporated as a Limited company.

In 1967, Pam and David Haines bought 1/3 of the shares of Normans.

In 1969, Normans moved to Bridge Street, Burton and current MD Gareth Haines was born.

In 1971, Normans had the 1st of several “Sunday Sales” which offered huge discounts. In the early seventies, offering any discounts to customers was frowned upon by the Musical Instrument trade and people travelled from all over the country to take advantage.

In 1972, Normans bought 1 Lichfield St and 1 and 2 New Street, Burton from Boots the Chemists. The second “Sunday Sale” took place in The Leofric Hotel, Coventry, featuring recitals by Dennis Wick and John Wilbraham. Our reputation was now starting to spread far and wide – making us increasingly popular with musicians and unpopular with our competition! 

(Pictured - New Street Branch)

 

In 1974, David and Pam left their jobs to join Normans full time (David having previously been the Band Master at Repton School). Blessing instruments were imported for the first time from America by Normans. At the time there was very little choice of student Brass instruments available in the UK – and then it was not the best quality. At the time the market leading instruments were Boosey and Hawkes Regents – which came in cardboard cases! Blessing cornets, Trumpets and Trombones were better instruments and supplied in moulded ABS cases (a first at the time). They immediately became very popular amongst the education fraternity and large quantities started to be used in schools across the country. This was the beginning of Normans establishing ourselves as a leading supplier to music education.   

(Pictured - Gareth Haines Aged 3)

 

In 1980, Norman and Pauline Willey are bought out by David and Pam Haines 

During 1980-1989, Normans continually expanded and opened a succession of regional branches in Cardiff, Huddersfield and Falkirk. 

In 1989, Normans outgrew its central Burton shop and moved to a purpose built warehouse, shop and office complex at Unit 1, Moor Street. 

(Pictured - Moor Street Warehouse)

 

During 1990-1999, the branch network continued to expand with Crewe, Winchester and Darlington branches added. The late 90's saw a huge wave of Brass Band Lottery grants. Normans supplied on average a complete new “Band-Set” of instrument per week for three years!

During the 90's the current management team of Gareth Haines (MD), Kerry Haines (Commercial Director) and Andy Mckeown (Sales & Operations Director) joined Normans. With the emergence of Taiwan and China as major hubs for manufacturing Music Instruments we started to buy large quantities from the Far East and Blessing Instruments were slowly phased out. The range of products offered was also expanded significantly repositioning Normans from being essentially a Brass & Woodwind supplier to one that could offer virtually everything a thriving music department was likely to need. Our aim was to become a ‘one stop shop’ for schools, music educators and parents.  

By the end of the 20th century it was clear that the world was changing and the way we had run our business over the past two decades was not going to be appropriate moving forward. Specifically, improved nationwide next day couriers and the fledgling internet meant that a network or regional stores was quickly becoming an outmoded method of doing business. We therefore took the decision to systematically centralise our business and dismantle our branch network. In retrospect, this tough decision and difficult period of re-organisation has been the springboard for our continued growth and success.

In 2000, our first education catalogue was published and by now we were established as one of the UK’s leading education suppliers. This catalogue (sent out to over 40,000 schools and teachers) cemented our position as market leaders.

In 2001, Gareth Haines married Kerry Robinson, who was already involved in the business, and she continued to work full time within the company.

In 2002, Gareth Haines was appointed as a Company Director. We also moved our operation to Third Avenue, Centrum 100, Burton. A larger warehouse with attached office, store area and repair workshop. 

(Pictured - Third Avenue Branch and Warehouse)

 

In 2006, www.normans.co.uk launched for e-commerce. Within a matter of months, International sales expanded rapidly. As you would expect, the website continues to be a key component of our business to this day both as a sales tool and a valuable resource for our customers.   

In 2007, Pam and David Haines retire. 

In 2008, Kerry Haines was appointed as a Company Director. As lack of storage and processing space became an issue, Normans were fortunate to obtain additional warehousing across the road from our Centrum site. This more than doubled capacity overnight allowing expansion of the business to continue.



In 2009, Normans celebrated 50 years in business. The unit adjacent to our main office/warehouse building also became available around that time. The directors jumped at the chance to add this property to our warehousing operation given they could see the potential for rapid expansion over the next few years.   

Normans’ expertise in online selling was also developing at pace and our offering was opened up to emerging marketplaces eBay and Amazon. This move significantly increased online sales by giving us access to a far larger customer base, both in the UK and overseas.   

In 2011, Andy McKeown was appointed as a Company Director. Investment in technology over the next few years helped Normans to automate many areas of the business, particularly warehousing and logistics. Significant efficiency advantages were gained enabling us to provide improved levels of service and value to our customers.

During 2012-16 Normans expanded its reach by building partnerships with ‘mass market’ retailers such as Tesco, Argos, Amazon & Costco. Our expertise in the niche area of musical instruments helped them to expand their range whilst giving us access to even more potential customers. 

Throughout this period Normans continued to build relationships with music educators and also began to establish credible and well respected own brand instruments and accessory ranges. Working closely with music teachers we developed quality products designed for the education sector, then leveraged our relationships with major retailers to ensure we offered great value by being able to purchase in large volumes. Forenza, Axus, Rocket and Sonata are just a few of the brands Normans source that regularly feature on quote requests from our education customers.        

In 2017, Normans relocated the majority of its warehousing operation to an alternative site (still in Burton!) to ensure we could meet the ever increasing demand of our loyal customers. One thing is for sure though, we won’t let growth distract us from our core principle of ensuring we provide exceptional advice, service and value to all.

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