Covid loss: Major instrument supplier shuts down

Covid loss: Major instrument supplier shuts down


norman lebrecht

October 01, 2020

Bell Percussion, one of the world’s leading music hire companies, has decided it cannot cope any longer through Covid. After 30 years, Bell is shutting up shop. Bell is a major supplier to orchestras and musicians with a fantastically knowledgeable and helpful staff.

But with music operating at such low volume, it’s hard for a percussion firm to carry on.

Here’s Mike Perry’s farewell letter:

I’m very sorry to inform you that Bell Music Ltd will be closing at the end of this year. There are a few reasons behind the closure but unsurprisingly the pandemic has had a significant effect on our industry and continues to do so. Without any sign of significant recovery, it just isn’t viable or commercially sensible to blindly continue into an unknown and untested future. In addition, the lockdown has compelled everyone to re-evaluate their lives, priorities and futures. Prior to COVID-19, restructuring the team would have been a challenging process. However, during the pandemic, the most damaging trading shock ever, the length of time, the huge financial uncertainty and the enormous disruption at such an unpredictable time has meant the only option left, is to close. Over the years I’ve tried to imagine every possible scenario that could shape the landscape of our industry and to the most part, have adapted the company accordingly. I just don’t have the answers to this.
If one were to look back to the start of the year, it would have been completely inconceivable that I’d be writing this today. So many people have reframed their lives and thinking – where will they work, how will they work and how they will live for the next few decades. Truly surreal times but one can only hope for a more thoughtful and kinder future. The pandemic has been a devastating blow to our sector and I am incredibly sad that after 30 years, I have to lose all of my staff. My people here are and always have been the life blood of this company and without them, there is no Bell. As a small company, we have always been a family and since the decision was made in July to close, my focus has been on helping everyone with their new futures. As this is not primarily a financial step, the equipment will not be sold but mothballed out of London until a future and unknown date. I am very sorry if our closure causes a short term blip to the industry but as ever, the market will adapt and new faces will inevitably pop up to fill the gaps. The timing of this announcement is to give the industry some months to adapt and whilst the retail and studio departments will continue until the end of the year, the hire department will slowly wind down during the next three months.


  • One can’t support oneself on hope! says:

    With few venues open, major agencies collapsing and players/singers/artists shut in with no work on, it’s a good idea to permanently close at this stage.

    More businesses of this sort along with instrument makers, music publishers, book/score sellers will continue to make good, sensible decisions like this.

  • Michael Turner (conductor) says:

    A great shame. Apart from anyone else, there are many amateur music ensembles that have used Bell in the past. With no amateur music, Bell goes. Once amateur music returns, there’ll be no Bell to go to. These are the hidden costs of the current situation.

  • Shed Builder says:

    Mike Bell? Don’t you mean Mike Perry? Check your facts – it would be good to get the respected name of the owner correct before publishing.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    A tragic, but not surprising event.
    The letter by Mike Bell is beautiful and thoughtful. He sounds like a thorough gentleman, and I’ll wager that he is a wonderful guv’nor too.
    Good luck and best wishes to you, Mike, and to the entire Bell crew.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Their shop is on Greenock Rd., London, said to be the largest percussion shop in the UK. Of course everyone but me knows this.

  • TJSN says:

    This is a huge, huge loss for the music business. Bell Percussion has been such a mainstay of the scene for what feels like forever. Consistently reliable, and incredibly kind and pleasant to work with, it was always a pleasure to deal with them. I’m really saddened by this news.