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A NEW SUNRISE FOR HMV (UPDATE)

 

Sunrise Records owner Doug Putman has emerged victorious in the bid to save HMV, and will buy 100 stores out of administration, while closing 27, including the flagship London branch on Oxford Street. The acquisition will save nearly 1.5k jobs, and part of Putman’s plan to revive the chain will be to stock more vinyl and deep catalog and host more in-store events.

That means Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley is out of the race. The 27 closures will result in 455 redundancies and a further 122 warehouse jobs be axed in the coming weeks. Aside from Oxford Street, the other London store to close will be in the Westfield shopping center. 

HMV has slimmed down considerably since it first fell into administration in 2013, when 250 stores were trimmed to 127 after it was saved by restructuring firm Hilco. It fell into administration for a second time in six years at the end of December, with a 30% decline in the DVD market over the Christmas period, alongside increased business rates, to blame.

After Putman bought Sunrise Records in 2014, and three years later, the operation was bolstered with the acquisition of HMV’s Canadian business after it fell into administration; he now owns 80 retail stores in Canada.

Discussing the buy, Putnam told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that he was “delighted to acquire the most iconic music and entertainment business in the U.K.” It will continue to be called HMV, and it sounds like Putman has plans to prioritize music by stocking more vinyl and “depth” of catalog.

“There’s in no doubt that online is a big part of overall retail sales,” he explained. “But people like to come into a store, have an experience, talk with someone who understands music, loves music, loves video and entertainment. If you think online is the only future I don’t think that is the case. There is so much you get from come into a store that you can’t get online.”

Speaking further to the Guardian about his faith in the brand, Putnam said: “If we go back four or five years, they said the book business [would be replaced by digital downloads]. There’s a great story in doom and gloom and we can focus a lot on the negative and not a lot on the positive. There’s a really positive story here, there’s a positive thing that [HMV] can do almost £250m of sales from 100 stores. That suggests a lot longer life [for HMV] than people think.

“Talk about the demise of the physical business is sometimes a bit exaggerated, especially in music specialists. Most of the decline is coming from nontraditional sellers like the grocery chains. We’ll be here for quite some time.”

 

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