How a 'massive gamble' 20 years ago for a then-struggling Leamington business has led to its national success story today

This year marks 20 years since Presto Music launched it website - and 35 years since it opened its first store in town

Chris O’Reilly, CEO of Presto Music (left) with Matt Western MP.

Twenty years ago, Presto Music in Leamington was threatened with closure - but two decades on, it has become the country's leading e-commerce website for everything musical.

This year, the business celebrates 20 years since it launched its website - and 35 years since it opened its first store in town.

To mark occasion, Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western visited Presto Music in Park Street to personally congratulate the team on two decades of sustained business growth and success.

Matt Western MP (left) with Chris O’Reilly, CEO of Presto Music.

Founded in 1986, Presto Music opened its first store in Portland Street, Leamington. Threatened with closure in 2001, the business was saved by a local entrepreneur, who immediately brought in Chris O’Reilly (now CEO of Presto Music) to run the business and recruited David Ferrer to launch a website.

Presto Music has since gone on to become the UK’s leading e-commerce platform for classical and jazz recordings (CDs, DVDs, vinyl and high-quality downloads), printed music, music books and musical instruments.

Chris O’Reilly said: “Taking the business online at the height of the dot-com bubble was certainly a massive gamble at the time, so we’re glad to be here twenty years later to say that it ultimately paid off. With the benefit of hindsight it was a smart, forward-looking decision that allowed Presto Music to establish a presence in the digital sphere, as well as build and nurture a loyal customer base long before countless e-commerce businesses came along.”

He added: “Our first order was on the August 4, 2001 and included Weber Symphonies 1&2 on Naxos, and Suk String Quartets on CRD. Today our online catalogue includes more than 1 million products.”

Mr Western’s visit to the Presto Music store follows the recent announcement of the company’s overall business growth of 18 per cent during the 2020-2021 financial year, making it Presto’s most successful to date during what can only be described as turbulent economic times. This unprecedented growth can be attributed in large part to sustained customer demand for classical and jazz music throughout the lockdown period.

Mr Western said: “Companies like Presto Music are invaluable to our town. We always want to see local businesses flourish, so the fact that Presto has grown over the past 20 years to become a high performing online business with a customer base that goes beyond our national borders is a truly inspiring success story.”