In 1962, aware of the growing demand for recordings from US artists which weren’t available in Ireland at the time, Golden Discs was set up on Dublin’s Tara Street by Jack Fitzgerald and Tom Rogers. Sixty years later, Golden Discs celebrates its diamond anniversary; a testament to the founders forward-thinking, and tenacious business strategy.
In fact, Golden Discs first started out life in 1962 as the Trans-Atlantic Record Agency (TARA) and only changed their name in 1966 with the opening of their first store outside the city centre in Irelands first shopping mall in Stillorgan. This store was added to their city portfolio: Tara Street, Liffey Street, Duke Street and Grafton Street.
Through the 70s and 80s, Golden Discs was involved in all facets of the music business from ticket sales and charts to cassette exclusives to VHS movie rental, and quickly grew its reach nationwide. As the years flew by, Golden Discs also pioneered one of the world’s first global home delivery services through their stores.
The introduction of CDs and DVDs in the 80s and 90s provided more varied media formats for the hungry Irish consumer. The company went on to open over 100 stores in high streets and shopping centres throughout the island including five in Northern Ireland to meet this demand. However, as the 80s also saw the arrival of UK heavyweights; HMV, Our Price and Virgin Megastore followed by the US behemoth Tower Records music retailing became hugely competitive. The 90s also saw a whole new challenge with the grocers entry into the market. Large multichain retailers selling product at extremely low or below cost price to drive footfall became a regular feature of the industry.
The late noughties spelled big changes with the widespread adoption of the internet and the launch of file-sharing and streaming platforms. Free music was now available to anyone with a modem, and this had a huge impact on music retailers all over the world. Golden Discs went through a punishing period culminating in an examinership and restructuring in 2009 where the company successfully reorganised and pivoted its brand to cater for an albeit smaller yet exceptionally loyal customer base.
Fending off the competition, Golden Discs would soon find itself the last music store chain in Ireland. The customer base grew in the following years allowing the brand to expand their stores and create an enormously successful website which serves music fans all over the globe.
Golden Discs is a favourite of vinyl addicts craving new and classic releases, and vinyl sales account for more than half of sales in some physical stores. They also answered the demand from customers for more merchandise including apparel, books and posters, and rare and unusual collectibles like figurines and film prop replicas, by launching their first instore merchandising concession under the brand name POP!
In 2022, Golden Discs operates twenty-one stores and is Ireland’s largest and most popular music chain. Jack Fitzgerald, founder, now in his 90s, states, ‘I would never have thought that from our humble beginnings in Tara Street we would turn into a business that would still be going strong sixty years later, having employed tens of thousands of staff and served millions of customers. I am exceedingly proud to have served the Irish public and been a part of the Irish music landscape for so long.’
Stephen Fitzgerald echoes this and says, ‘the company’s superpower is our incredible staff who have an unrivalled product knowledge and passion for their stores and their customers. Our amazing staff and our loyal customers, many of whom have been shopping with us for decades, are the reason why Golden Discs remains Ireland’s largest music chain sixty years after we first opened our doors.’
To celebrate this huge milestone, Golden Discs are kicking off their biggest ever sale with up to 60% off Vinyl, CD, DVD and Blu-ray. From ABBA and the Beatles right up to Taylor Swift and Harry Styles, there is something from every decade on offer for music fans. If film and TV are more your thing, check out the incredible prices on boxsets like The Middle Earth Collection, Mare of Easttown, or The Complete James Bond. There are also fantastic discounts on merchandise and t-shirts. If you’re new to the vinyl revolution and yet to buy a turntable, there’s never been a better time as all turntables are also reduced in the Sale.
Through the peaks and the troughs, the good and bad, Golden Discs has survived. An Irish success story which we now celebrate for achieving this remarkable anniversary. Here’s to the next 60!
Golden Discs ran a customer music poll over the last few months asking the Irish public to choose their absolute favourite albums over the last six decades, there are some expectant but also surprising results. The top 10 albums in each decade can be found at www.goldendiscs.ie (see list attached).