Reg Mills Stereo in Queensland is closing its doors at the end of March after almost half a century in the sound business, representing the fourth of a slew of audio retailers closing down around the country due to increased pressure from the home theatre business.
The Reg Mills Stereo building was sold after “quite a good offer”, however the business has not been sold, with owner and proprietor Tony Mills choosing to retire and close-up shop.
“If a white knight came along and wanted to buy the building and the business — well then we could have talked,” said Mills, who inherited the audio business in 1966 after his father and business founder, Reg Mills, passed away.
The specialist retailer has admitted that it felt pressure from trends in home theatre speaker kits encroaching on the enthusiast audio market, however he says the closure is due only to his desire to retire – which was well-timed with the sale of the Reg Mills Stereo building.
“My feelings were that hi-fi sadly got ambushed by home theatre. Whether you liked it or not, you sort of had to go there,” said Mills.
The company currently retails a range of audio products, including a “little bit” of “higher-end home theatre,” including projectors. For the past 18 years the company has avoided selling TVs.
According to Mills, Reg Mills Stereo suppliers including Denon, Sonos, Toshiba, McIntosh, NAD and Dynaudio have been “shocked” at the news, which came quite suddenly, even though Mills had been “tossing around the idea” for around six months.
“Our suppliers and customers are saying ‘What are we going to do? What the hell are you doing?'” said Mills.
“But one day you just have to draw the line in the sand.
According to fellow audio retailer, Len Wallis from Len Wallis Audio in Sydney, there has been a tendency away from traditional audio systems including two-channel speaker set-ups.
“The market is moving away from more boxy speakers like some of the traditional models, and the Chinese market is posing competition to local players,” Wallis told SmartHouse.
“There aren’t that many audio dealers around now – we couldn’t afford to do that and only that, for instance.”
In the last two years, three Sydney-based audio specialists have closed their doors without selling their businesses, including Audio One, Dave Ryall Electronics and Hi-Fi Junction, suggesting that the home theatre dealers are taking over the market.
“It’s terrible,” said Wallis.
“I always viewed Reg Mills Stereo as the premium audio reseller in Queensland.”