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Pleyel pianos shuts up shop after two centuries

15 November 2013

Pleyel fan: Chopin
Pleyel fan: Chopin© Tully Potter Collection

French piano maker Pleyel has ceased operations after 206 years and the manufacture of an estimated 250,000 instruments following ‘repeated financial losses and a very low level of production’.

Founded in 1807 and famously Chopin’s piano of choice, Pleyel’s recent history had been dogged by declining sales in the face of competition from China and Korea. Since the turn of the century its annual production rates had fallen from around 1,700 pianos to just 20 labour-intensive instruments requiring 1,500 working hours to complete in 2012. Earlier this year, the company was acquired by a French investment fund but failed to gain sufficient new orders.

During its long history, Pleyel introduced the upright piano to France, built a concert hall that became the centre of 19th-century Parisian concert life, subsumed the Erard and Gaveau piano brands and was famed for its bright, clear sound.

The company’s last workshop in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis has now been closed with the loss of 14 jobs and the demise of a brand described by Pleyel’s deputy head of workshop Fabrice Perret as ‘the Ferrari of the piano world’.

French industry minister Arnaud Montebourg has said he will meet Pleyel to discuss ways to save the company.

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