Moorgate was started in 1981 by father, Keith Hobson (far right). He was an engineer by trade and extremely passionate about music since his teens. One of the first things he did after buying his first hours was to look for a stereo system. He realised he needed good equipment in order to get good results from his growing record collection.
Some years later Keith opened Sound 70’s – located on Barclay Precinct on Ecclesfield Road. He ran that shop until the early 1980 when the company who owned it took a different direction. His redundancy money enabled him to start Moorgate Acoustics.
Moorgate stemmed from his enthusiasm and passion for looking after people. He realised that that he wanted to take the best aspects of the shops that he had been buying his own equipment from. He also realised that he could also add a lot of facilities that he would have appreciated as a customer.
Keeping customers happy enabled the business to grow. He was also one of the first retailers to adopt demonstration rooms and his passion for sound quality naturally led the company towards better quality products. So the company moved from mainly Japanese products to British brands like Quad, Mission, Spendor, Exposure, Bowers and Wilkins, Musical Fidelity and a little later, Rega, Naim Audio and LINN.
I came on board after failing my “A” Levels. I had some time to kill whilst I decided what to do with myself and my dad was too busy to cope. I joined part-time and never left. I already shared my father’s enthusiasm for music and good sound.
Everything I’ve learned was either from my father, or from some of the excellent people we’ve employed over the past 36 years. I’m pleased to say that many of them still work in the company.
People always ask us about the change we’ve seen in technology. And whilst that continues to evolve we always say our core values haven’t really changed that much. To us it’s always been about offering the customer great service and listening to them very carefully. Most people come to us knowing that we sell great equipment but not having a clue what is right for them. The Hi-Fi magazines haven’t don’t really help and often confuse people with their “flavour of the month” approach. Our job is to match product to customer requirement. Because we choose all the products we sell very carefully, we have faith in them and can recommend them with confidence.
Different products and technologies come and go but we handle them in the same way because it’s what our customers expect. We expand the range and type of products we offer but still select them in the same way; by listening to them and often trying them at home. All our staff are encouraged to take equipment home at the weekend and evaluate it. It’s key because it allows them to discover what equipment works well together and how it fits into our range.
We’re also extremely careful to make sure that our suppliers offers us good service. Without that we can’t look after our customers. When our suppliers fall short we will stop selling their products. That’s another reason why some brands won’t be found in our store.
As a nation we undervalue the role of our salespeople, the one person who is out there in the firing line helping customers. Middle management seems to stifle the enthusiasm of their salespeople. Our sales staff are by far the most important people in our company.
Profit isn’t a dirty word. Companies that don’t make money fail because they can’t stay ahead of their competition. Moorgate is profitable and that enables us to maintain our facilities, invest in better product and also employ high calibre staff. Last year we moved to brand new premises and refitted to shop to offer a far better environment for our customers and staff. We have more demonstration rooms and also customer parking.
That’s good for customers and makes the staff more productive too, because they enjoy being at work. It isn’t rocket science.
We find we are always making excuses for our suppliers. There are exceptions to this of course and those companies are like a breath of fresh air.
To be honest, listening to music still brings me an enormous pleasure and I find it incredibly relaxing. Live music has never failed to excite me and I try to see as many live bands as I can. We’re pretty lucky in Sheffield because we’ve got a good range of venues and there is always somebody decent to look forward to. I find it a great way of letting off steam.