Gear4music announces board changes, trading update

Shares of York-based online musical equipment retailer Gear4music rose as much as 6% after it announced a board succession plan and published a year-end trading update covering the 12 months to March 31, 2024.

Having served the group since IPO in 2015, non-executive chair Ken Ford and non-executive director Dean Murray are approaching the end of their nine-year tenure and are intending to step down from the board later this year.

Gear4music said it consulted with certain of the company’s major shareholders and that as of July 5, Andrew Wass will move from CEO to executive chair; Gareth Bevan, current CCO, will be appointed CEO; and Neil Catto, recently appointed as CFO of Revolution Beauty Group Plc and former CFO of Boohoo Group plc, will join the Gear4music board as senior independent director and audit committee chair.

Ken Ford will step down as non-executive chair and retire from the board.

The roles and responsibilities of CFO Chris Scott and NED Harriet Williams remain unchanged.

Dean Murray has agreed to remain on the board until a suitable NED candidate with appropriate experience has been appointed. 

“Neil (Catto) has significant experience of serving on the boards of AIM-listed companies as both executive and non-executive director,” said Gear4music.

“Neil was CFO of Boohoo between 2011 and 2022 and is now CFO of Revolution Beauty, having initially joined as a non-executive director in 2023.

“Neil is also a non-executive director of tinyBuild Inc. He was previously Finance Director of plc and has held senior financial positions in BT plc and The Carphone Warehouse Group. Neil qualified as a chartered accountant with EY.”

Gear4music CEO Wass said: “On behalf of the Gear4music team, I extend our heartfelt thanks to Ken and Dean for their dedication and invaluable contributions over the past nine years. I am deeply appreciative of the wise counsel and steadfast support they have provided throughout their tenure.

“I am very much looking forward to working alongside Gareth in our respective new roles. Gareth has been with the business for twelve years as chief commercial officer and has 25 years’ experience in our industry, and we firmly believe there is no better person to be Gear4Music’s CEO.

“The transition will ensure seamless continuity within our leadership team whilst enhancing our strategic focus.

“I look forward to spearheading our strategic initiatives, overseeing the advancement of our bespoke e-commerce platform and continuing to provide support to our team and stakeholders.

“Finally, on behalf of the Gear4music team, I would like to welcome Neil to the board. Neil’s extensive e-commerce and listed company director experience will prove invaluable as we continue with the implementation of our long-term growth plan whilst ensuring good governance.”

Ford said: “I am deeply grateful to the board members, staff, and stakeholders for their commitment to the business, enthusiasm and delivery since I joined the board as chair in 2015.

“This period has seen remarkable growth. There have been challenges to overcome along the way but, today, our business stands significantly stronger, a testament to the collective efforts and dedication of our entire team.

“With the newly restructured board, I am confident that their diverse skills and experience will continue to drive transformative change.

“I extend my best wishes to the team on their journey towards sustainable and profitable growth and I am confident that they will continue to drive Gear4music forward.”

On trading, Gear4music said total sales for the 12 months to March 31, 2024, will fall 5% to £144 million.

“Revenues, in line with market expectations, reflect previously announced FY24 prioritisation of gross margins, profitability, and net debt reduction ahead of sales growth …” said the firm.

Gear4music said it believes that current consensus market expectations for the year are revenue of £144.1 million, adjusted EBITDA of £9.8 million, adjusted profit before tax of £1.3 million, and pre-IFRS16 net debt of £11.6 million.