BRISBANE, Australia — It’s closing time for Sanity, the once-major Australian music retail specialist, which confirmed it would close all of its brick-and-mortar stores in the coming months.
In a statement issued on Wednesday (January 4), Sanity announced plans to close its remaining 50 stores by the end of April 2023, in line with the lease expiration of each store.
It’s a sad end to a music and entertainment chain that, like so many brands in the physical audio industry, has been left behind as consumers move to streaming platforms.
“With our customers’ shift to digital for their visual and music content consumption, and with declining physical content available to sell to our customer, it has made it impossible to continue with our brick-and-mortar stores,” explains Sanity CEO and Owner Ray Itaoui.
Despite the “challenging and ever-evolving entertainment landscape,” the Sanity business has “flourished and remained successful for many years, quite an achievement in the rapidly 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 later challenged by JB Hi-Fi.
With Blundy at the helm, his Brazilian company entered the UK in the early 2000s with the purchase of 77 Our Price branded stores from the Virgin Group. The experiment ended in 2003 when Brazin sold its 118 Sanity Entertainment UK stores to an investment firm for an estimated £12 million ($16.67 million).
A consortium led by Itaoui bought the business from Brett Blundy Retail Capital (BBRC) in 2009when the Sanity chain boasted 238 stores across Australia, including Sanity and the domestic branches of British 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 company had an estimated 23%–25% share of Australia’s brick-and-mortar music retail market. LoadIt shuts down beginning of 2009.
Digital platforms, and streaming, in particular, are how Australians consume music in the 2020s.
The recorded music market in these parts grew 4.4% to A$565.8 million ($421 million) in 2021, for the third consecutive year of growth, according to trade body ARIA. Subscription services contributed A$377 million ($281 million) that year, up 4.1% from A$317 million ($236 million) in 2020.
Of reason online business will continue to operate and the team is currently working to fulfill all OTC orders, including pre-orders.
“There is so much to be proud of,” Itaoui adds. The Sanity brand “became synonymous with the place to get everything that matters in the world of music: from vinyl, to CDs and DVDs, hardware, accessories and of course face-to-face advice on all things musical. “