The resurgent vinyl record industry is more than a U.S. phenomenon. A Czech packaging company is riding the global tidal wave of demand for vinyl discs triggered by a revival of collecting music on vinyl records.
GZ Media of Lodenice, Czech Republic, which has manufactured vinyl records since 1951, turned out 14 million discs during 2014, and claims to be the world's largest producer of vinyl discs.
With business now booming in the vinyl record sections of music stores all over the world, the Czech group's dedicated subsidiary, GZ Media Vinyl, has successfully developed and deployed a new vinyl press.
In the early 90s, production of vinyl discs was in what appeared to be terminal decline. GZ Media, which has also manufactured a range of CDs and DVDs as well as paperboard and plastic packaging, mothballed its original vinyl record pressing machines in the late 1980s.
But then came a dramatic turnaround with a new boom in the vinyl disc business. In 2013, after GZ Media brought out its old vinyl pressing lines again, the firm pressed an unprecedented 10 million records. That figure was surpassed last year with 14 million discs turned out.
“In the last two years we have seen 30 percent to 40 percent annual growth of demand for vinyl records. In 2014, we sold 100 percent of our production capacity. The development of this new press will allow us nearly to double our production capacity in 2015,” GZ Media's chief executive Michal Sterba forecast at the start of this year.
In April, GZ managed to manufacture a record 53,000 vinyl discs in just one day.
From a very low level two years ago, the firm (which is also a vinyl compounder) saw its vinyl record production soar to 30 percent of annual sales in 2014. Its customers, spread across 42 countries, last year included Sony Music and Universal Music Group.
GZ Media Vinyl has expanded its production unit at Sobeslav na Taborsku, which is near Prague. With the new pressing line, the plant was set to create around 200 new jobs.
The company, unlike other vinyl record makers, produces its own vinyl compound based on its own special formula of raw material. This means GZ has no raw material supply difficulty as it aims to meet the rising demand for discs. The firm can supply regular black or colored vinyl records, with a choice of 14 standard solid and transparent colors.
GZ Media, formed originally in 1948, has developed into a modern integrated print, packaging and discs producer with the help of American capital and its Czech management.