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A somewhat unconventional chain of retail outlets, selling hifi audio equipment (primarily hifi separates) in the UK (and a couple of stores in Holland).

The Richer Sounds approach to retail is unconventional in several ways, and based on an aggressive pricing policy. Their stores tend to be as small as as practicable, and hidden in inexpensive out of the way locations just off the main retail areas of cities; this reduces overheads, but without sacrificing much in the way of convenience for it's customers. Stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap is also a strictly observed credo. This is sharply in contrast with most high street retailers, who rely on high profile storefronts and high margin products. Richer Sounds rely on reputation and customer loyalty.

Customer loyalty is further enhanced by such schemes as Home Trials: rather than relying on how a system or component sounds in the demo room, they'll let you take it home to see how it sounds in your room, with your furniture, and whatever other equipment you want to connect to it. Many stores do have demo rooms, though, which usually need to be booked in advance.

They also have 'fun' things, like the 'Richer Sounds Virgin' tape (a tape given out free to those who'll own up to it being their first visit to a Richer Sounds store. I don't have one though... it was too long ago!). There's also the 'mini system challenge': they keep a mini-system and equivalently priced separates system set up, and will happily hand out a box of cotton buds to anyone who dares to claim that they can't tell the difference in sound quality. This approach also makes a Richer Sounds store a far more pleasant place to browse than the more high-end stores with snooty sales staff who look at you like you're about to walk out with an amplifier under your jacket. Not that I speak from bitter experience.

Richer Sounds' stock range mostly covers budget to mid-range components. I've never seen any Linn or Arcam gear in a Richer Sounds, for instance. However, they do stock good budget stuff at ridiculously low prices. A Cambridge Audio A1 integrated amplifier will set you back only sixty quid.

Further fun facts!:

  • Richer Sounds is still entirely owned and controlled by it's founder, Julian Richer.
  • One of their London stores (I forget which) has been in the Guinness Book of World Records on more than one occasion (and it may still be, I don't have the book) as generating the highest profit per square foot of shop floor of any retail outlet in the world. As I said, stack 'em high, flog 'em cheap.
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