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Sound Leisure acquires war-time technology

The acquisition is set to aid the production of flat panel speakers at Sound Leisure, which is historically best-known for its production of high quality jukeboxes.

The Leeds-based jukebox manufacturer has taken ownership of equipment used to develop prototypes for the Dambusters’ famous ‘Bouncing Bomb’, writes David Davies. Dawson’s Pattern Works has been acquired by Sound Leisure for an undisclosed sum and transferred to its Crossgates factory, with David Whitehead – who joined Dawson’s as an apprentice 46 years ago – also making the move.

Established by Thomas William Dawson in Hunslet in 1915, Dawson’s became a top secret client of the MoD in 1943, when its services were engaged to help develop prototypes of the Barnes Wallis bomb. Post-war, Dawson’s has remained at the heart of manufacturing in the North of England ever since, and has been a major supplier of parts and cabinet-making patterns to Sound Leisure for more than 30 years.

Considering the acquisition, Leeds City Council’s chief economic services officer, Paul Stephens, remarked: “Sound Leisure is a highly successful Leeds manufacturing company that has combined traditional skills with the latest innovations in modern electronics to carve out a unique place in the market. It’s great to see those skills and experienced passed to a new generation.”

The founder’s grandson, John Dawson (pictured here, left, with Sound Leisure MD Chris Black and the lathe used during the Bouncing Bomb project), commented: “We’ve had a long and happy trading association with Sound Leisure and couldn’t have considered selling to anyone else. The deal was done on a handshake and equipment moved on that, prior to completion of the formalities.”

Chris Black said: “The acquisition dovetails neatly with our policy of sourcing locally anything we can’t make in-house. David brings a new skill set to our business and will be able to trade experience with our team of apprentices.”

Speaking to PSN-e, Black reflected on the wider climate for jukebox supply to the UK leisure sector. “With the difficult trading conditions that the British pub industry finds itself in, it will come as little surprise that sales to this side of our UK business are down on the previous year,” he says. “The Dawson’s takeover is a continuation of Sound Leisure’s diversification from what has traditionally been our core market. This acquisition will be used to strengthen the capabilities of our in house vac-forming division and add greater skills to our cabinet manufacturing division, which in turn will aid the ongoing development of our flat panel speaker range that is growing in popularity.”