The swan song of one of Britain’s last piano manufacturers

Posted on 17 Feb 2014 by Callum Bentley

The UK piano making industry was once a proud part of the manufacturing industry with more than 300 companies crafting the instruments. However one of the last British piano makers is about to play its swan song.

Kemble London will close its Milton Keynes operations after majority shareholder, Yamaha, decided it was no longer financially viable to support the company.

“As the marketplace for mid-range pianos comes under increasing pressure, and in order to improve our long term competitiveness, the best solution is to fully utilise our manufacturing capacity in other locations,” a Yamaha spokesman told the BBC News.

Yamaha bought a 90% share in Kemble London during the recession in 1986, a move that extended the London piano maker’s lifespan by another 23 years in which 12,000 instruments were sold.

Kemble pianos will still be found on the market however, with Yamaha agreeing to continue to make the instruments from its factories in other parts of the world.

The closure will force the redundancies of 90 employees at the factory near Milton Keynes. Brian Kemble, joint managing director of the firm and grandson of the founder, said in The Guardian that it was the “worst day” of his life when the closure was announced, adding “My heart goes out to all my staff members who are losing their jobs in such difficult economic times.”