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Diversifying to build up a dream business

Diversifying to build up a dream business
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Diversifying to build up a dream business
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

Our Sittingbourne customer, Luigi Papagno, has had several businesses while based with us, but his vintage turntable restoration company, Retrotone, is a passion that has stuck. The unique circumstances presented to all small businesses in the past year has meant that Retrotone has expanded its offering and moved into new avenues, and we've been thrilled to hear about Luigi’s successful journey while he’s  been located with us at St George’s Business Park.

RetroTone’s business model

There are two main two areas of Luigi Papagno’s business, the first of which is restoring vintage turntables, working with classic and upmarket models, making parts and providing customer support. Retrotone also works with audio equipment brand, Rogers – a high-quality brand that has existed in England since 1947.

“Not only do we manufacture parts to be used in the restoration of vintage pieces, we also develop new products like amps with Rogers,” says Luigi.

Despite setbacks, it’s a business that’s here to stay

Luigi has been based at our St George’s Business Park on and off for 10 years, having operated several businesses at our Sittingbourne location. He enjoys the flexibility of moving between units, having recently moved into a new, larger space to accommodate a change in demand for his offering.

“Whenever we run out of space, it’s so easy to move into a new space at short notice – and then we can just wheel our stock around the corner!” says Luigi.  

The unpredictability of 2020 has meant that Retrotone has seen a change in operations, as individuals are not permitted to enter the unit. Luigi has decided to make the most of any downtime the business gets, despite the disappointment of hi-fi events being postponed or cancelled.

“The market has definitely changed, so we’ve been conducting market research while we’re in this business lull. Where we would have been preparing for events, I’m now concentrating on other areas that we can expand the business into.”

Using business downtime to strategise

Stepping back and thinking about strategy, Luigi notes that music shops are still important, and any restrictions are only temporary.

“The problem with high-end audio is that, understandably, potential customers like to hear it in person,” he explains, “Even quality audio might not sound great over a computer, so shops are still important, as customer’s like to get a feel for the sound of a product before investing in it.”

In the meantime, Luigi is focusing on his collaboration with Rogers.

“About 90% of our work with Rogers is export, and that hasn’t faded away, which has been ideal during the scaling down of other areas of business,” he says.  Rogers’ entire ethos is founded on taking pride in its ‘Made in England’ products, so Luigi is excited to bring this brand message back to the Rogers company and work with it to introduce new product releases in the months to come.

Retrotone’s story will ring true with many business owners – challenges like those experienced over the last year signal that, as a self-employed individual, it’s never easy to predict what's around the corner. We’re proud to see our customers continuing to innovate and work on their businesses, both in the downtime and in high-demand moments.

  To find out how Capital Space virtual offices or business premises
could benefit your growing business,
call 0800 107 3667