Once a thriving part of the British economy with 300 separate manufacturers, the UK’s piano making industry is soon to draw to a close. In October Kemble and Co., Britain’s single remaining piano manufacturer, will shut down. The main shareholder, Yamaha, who bought 90 per cent of the company during the recession in 1986 thereby extending its life by 23 years, has finally decided that its support of Kemble is no longer financially viable.
‘As the marketplace for mid-range pianos comes under increasing pressure, and in order to improve our long term competitiveness, the best solution is to fully utilise our manufacturing capacity in other locations,’ says a Yamaha spokesman to the BBC News.
Rather than feeling any bitterness towards Yamaha for bringing about the demise of Kemble there is much gratitude for the two decades of support that Yamaha has provided, during which time the company has sold 120,000 pianos. Kemble pianos will continue to be produced in Yamaha factories elsewhere in the world.
The closure will necessitate 90 redundancies at the factory near Milton Keynes. Brian Kemble, joint managing director of the firm and grandson of the founder, said in The Guardian that it was the ‘worst day’ of his life when the closure was announced, adding ‘My heart goes out to all my staff members who are losing their jobs in such difficult economic times.’