One of Scotland’s most successful entrepreneurs aims to shake up the guitar retailing business amid signs the public will give strong backing to the move.

Three years after the multi-million dollar sale of the Vegware compostable packaging business he founded, Joe Frankel has set out to revitalise the instrument sales market through the Kenny’s Music group.

Mr Frankel’s investment in the group forms part of a portfolio he has developed since leaving Edinburgh-based Vegware in 2022. This includes interests in areas ranging from surfing to affordable homes.

He said Kenny’s aims to become a UK destination for instrument buyers by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by having bricks and mortar stores.

The business provides spaces Mr Frankel reckons can help to build communities while allowing potential buyers to explore their individual interests in an unhurried way with advice on buying from musicians.

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“Music is all about communities,” said Mr Frankel, who added: “You really need to touch and feel an instrument and know how it will play … even from early in a musical career an instrument is very personal.”

Mr Frankel started playing the banjo 27 years ago after seeing the film “O brother where art thou?” which is set in Mississippi.

Kenny’s stores will major on selling “pre-loved” guitars. Mr Frankel noted these can generate strong interest among enthusiasts.

It has outlets in Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Dunfermline. They also host events that could encourage people to become repeat visitors including seminars and classes. The Glasgow store showcases buskers while the one in Dundee has open-mic sessions that are live-streamed on the internet.

Mr Frankel said the business plans to open a combined store and music venue in Edinburgh.

The group will also look to leverage the Kenny’s Music brand online to grow its business. This will involve using apps and the like to create a seamless way for people to sell instruments to the firm.

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Kenny’s planned to raise £200,000 expansion funding through a share offer on the Crowdcube platform but may end up with a significantly larger amount.

While the offer only opens formally today, Mr Frankel said Kenny’s had already secured £180,000 funding pledges.   

Mr Frankel invested an initial £110,000 in Kenny’s after teaming up with music industry veteran Alex Marten. He plans to invest £60,000 in the latest round.

The pair were motivated to acquire the four stores when the founder of the business, Kenny Graham, was looking to exit the business and there seemed to be a risk the outlets might close.

“We thought that would be a huge shame,” said Mr Frankel. “Not only would you have had lots of job losses but you would have lost four stores with long histories in their respective cities.”

He added: “Alex is a musician too, so for both of us it’s a mix of high growth business opportunity and passion project.”

Mr Frankel went into business after gaining a PhD in speech recognition at the University of Edinburgh. He founded Vegware in 2006 to develop packaging made from plant-based materials and helped it win global recognition for products ranging from cups to take-away containers.

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North Carolina-based Novolex is thought to have paid tens of millions of dollars for Vegware in August 2021.

Mr Frankel resigned as managing director in November 2022.

Asked why he left, Mr Frankel said: “I had been on an amazing journey at Vegware … and it felt like time for a change. I’m someone with lots of interests outside work.”

The surfing enthusiast is in the research and development phase of a project to develop a recyclable surfboard. He has a stake in the Lost Shore Surf Resort in Edinburgh. Mr Frankel has also invested in social housing in Edinburgh, where he noted there is a shortage of property for people in housing crisis, and owns the building occupied by the Fierce Beer pub in the centre of the city.

Jim Ramsay’s Glasgow-based Guitar Trade Centre is expected to join forces with Kenny’s Music if the Crowdcube round is successful.