Respected high-end pro-audio distributor Juke Box Limited, founded in Paris by recording engineer and entrepreneur Jean-Baptiste Lierre almost exactly 20 years ago, was declared bankrupt by the Tribunal of Commerce of Bobigny at 2pm on Wednesday 14 January.
Despite agile commercial evolution and diversification – while maintaining a core of admired brands dominated by signal processing and software – the company has reported that increasing economic exposure had been brought about by the persistent difficulties in meeting the “break-even point” required to continue.
In a dignified communiqué to his loyal clients and suppliers, Lierre (pictured) outlined the situation with typical forthrightness. “Since 2009, business has become increasingly difficult,” he says. “During this time, Juke Box continually re-invented itself, adapting to an ever-changing world. We managed to counteract the effects of the recent economic crisis and even increase our turnover during this time while keeping a respectable gross margin by today’s standards. However, we increasingly failed to meet the break-even point and, slowly but surely, this put a dent in our financial resources and certainly made us fragile as an entity.”
Despite some recent staff cuts and voluntary resignations, a dramatic loss of turnover – proving to be the catalyst for bankruptcy proceedings – followed the decision by specific suppliers to go direct to dealers in Europe, and to remove the traditional distribution layer from their business model.
Lierre, who will be attending the NAMM Show in California this month, paid tribute to his colleagues and partners. “Starting with Avalon Design and helping make this brand what it is today, many more great manufacturers followed. At one point, Juke Box Limited had over 30 brands, all representing the best of high-end audio. I have nothing but fond memories of this venture: I have had the pleasure of working with great team members, many of whom joined Juke Box and stayed for well over 10 years – a rare sign of stability in a world of high staff turnover.
“I have worked with dozens of fantastic suppliers who contributed to Juke Box’s reputation, many of whom I count among my friends today, and, last but not least, I’ve had the honour of working with a long list of clients who […] repeatedly returned to Juke Box for not only our range of products, but for our ability to sell and service them with professionalism.
“We sincerely hope that our manufacturers will find another way to sell their products in France and that this disruption of service doesn’t affect them unduly. In the meantime, I would like to say thank you for nearly 20 years of support, without which Juke Box Limited would not have become what it was.”