Budget 2021: Leeds classic jukebox firm boss welcomes furlough scheme extension

The managing director of a Leeds company has welcomed the Chancellor's confirmation that the furlough scheme will be extended until the end of September.

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 3:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 3:35 pm

Chris Black, who runs family business Sound Leisure in Cross Gates, said he feels optimistic for his business and for the UK after today's ( March 3) Budget.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of September, although employers will be expected to make a contribution from July.

Sound Leisure, which employs 70 people, was established in 1978 and is best known for manufacturing classic jukeboxes.

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Chris Black, managing director of Sound Leisure Ltd in Cross Gates, Leeds. The family business was established in 1978 and is best known for manufacturing classic jukeboxes. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The factory broke production records in the last three months of 2020 when more than 100 jukeboxes - each costing up to £10,000 - were built and sold to customers from across the world.

The company also supplies and operates jukeboxes in hospitality venues across the UK.

Mr Black, who has worked for the business since he was 16, said he was looking for more support from the furlough scheme in the budget for that side of the business.

Ahead of today 's Budget, Mr Black said: "The side of the business that has really been hit hard by the Covid crisis has been the operating division that supplies jukeboxes into pubs and clubs.

"As everybody knows, this is the side that has been decimated. As a supplier we really have been struggling on that side.

"There has been little support, other than the furlough scheme. It has probably cost us over £1m in turnover in the last 12 months."

After the Budget announcement, Mr Black said: “ I feel quite optimistic about it for our business and for the UK as a whole.

"We got part of what we wanted, which was for the furlough scheme to be extended.

"This will help us with our supply to the hospitality sector. We won't begin to see income returning from that sector until early June.

"The extension of furlough scheme allows us to bring people back to work gradually as income grows.”

Mr Black added: “ the scheme they are putting in to double the incentive payment for any company that sets an apprentice on is fantastic.

"This gives companies the incentive to employ apprentices - especially young people leaving college and universities - who have been greatly affected by the Covid pandemic.

"The super deduction for business investment will ensure anybody considering investment, who has been holding off, should now have the confidence to move forward and invest in their business.

"They are setting up one of the new freeports coming to the UK in the Humber, that's got to be good news for the region as a whole."