This Czech Firm Is Saving Vinyl

Prague Morning

Prague Morning

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Whether gathering dust in your loft or currently spinning on your turntable, it's a fair bet that at least some of your vinyl records came from a small factory in the Czech Republic.

The facility in question is the headquarters of GZ Media, based in the small town of Lodenice, 25km west of Prague. GZ is today the world's largest producer of vinyl records, of which it expects to press 30 million this year, for everyone from the Rolling Stones and U2, to Lady Gaga and Madonna.

Back in the early 1970s more than three-quarters of album sales were on vinyl, but by the 1990s that had plunged to just 1.5%. "In 1993 our output was at its lowest, vinyl was almost dead. If we'd have stayed as a vinyl-only producer in the 90s, GZ would be no more," says GZ's chief executive Michal Sterba. GZ realized that it had to diversify to survive, so it branched out into printing and making packaging for consumer goods.

When the resurgence of vinyl began around 2010, GZ was in a position to take advantage of it. The firm's printing and packing capabilities give it another advantage over its rivals: "As well as producing the actual vinyl discs, GZ also makes the packaging, prints the artwork and any extras such as posters or booklet," added Mr. Sterba.

To keep up with demand, GZ Media's Czech factory now runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and employs 1,600 permanent workers. Meanwhile, its vinyl output has tripled since 2010. 

"As for the future," he says, "we're concentrating on making a success of our plants in North America. But in the longer term, we think manufacturing in Asia and preferably Japan [as well], is the right thing to do."

Author: red


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