Jazz FM owner plans to move into retailing

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The Independent Online
Golden Rose Communications, the owner of Jazz FM radio, is set to expand into retailing, just months after moving into the restaurant business.

Golden Rose opened a branded jazz cafe, Cafe Jazbar, in Liverpool two months ago. Now, the group aims to set up retail outlets, likely to be named Jazshops, to sell CDs and Jazz FM merchandise.

Richard Wheatley, chief executive of Golden Rose, said he was in advanced negotiations about buying a site for a Jazbar in Manchester. He added that the group was aiming to set up a Jazshop "either within the Jazbar or as a separate unit alongside it".

It is thought the company would aim to establish six restaurants and retail operations within 12 months, at least one of which is likely to be in London.

The shops will stock Golden Rose's range of merchandise, including clothing and own-label CDs, as well as other jazz labels and music-related products.

Mr Wheatley, who joined the company almost two years ago, said: "This planned expansion will make Golden Rose a bigger business than just a stand-alone jazz radio station."

Golden Rose focused on the Jazz FM brand after selling Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed the ill-fated women's radio station, Viva!, in 1996 for pounds 3m in cash. Apart from setting up the first Cafe Jazbar, the company has also expanded into a Jazz FM-branded upmarket travel service in partnership with Thomas Cook and British Airways.

Mr Wheatley said Golden Rose had found it hard to compete with the larger commercial radio players and had therefore had to concentrate on the company's key brand rather than building up a portfolio of licences.

Golden Rose operates its Cafe Jazbars through a joint venture with Regent Inns.

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