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HMV Goes Into Administration
The Quietus , January 15th, 2013 07:10

Collapse of high street music retailer puts 4,500 jobs at risk

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HMV, the UK's sole remaining nationwide high street music retailer, has announced that it has called in administrators.

The company's struggle to deal with bank debt puts the jobs of its 4,500 employees, working across 250 stores, at risk.

In a statement released last night, the company said: "The board regrets to announce that it has been unable to reach a position where it feels able to continue to trade outside of insolvency protection and in the circumstances therefore intends to file notice to appoint administrators to the company and certain of its subsidiaries with immediate effect."

"The directors understand that it is the intention of the administrators, once appointed, to continue to trade whilst they seek a purchaser for the business."

Back at the beginning of 2011, HMV had previously announced plans to downsize due to lower-than-expected takings over the 2010 Christmas period and an ongoing drop in sales - over the subsequent 12 months they were planning to close about 40 stores.

As with previous UK high street music retail chains like Zavvi (formerly Virgin Megastore), which went bust in 2009, several major factors are accountable for a decline in HMV's profits, including a shift to buying physical music products online, the growth of the download sales market and a general drop in music sales due to illegal downloading. 

In spite of these challenges, as well as the rise in supermarkets selling CDs and DVDs, HMV retained over a third, 38%, of the physical music market share.

The announcement does not necessarily mean the end for the chain. The Guardian report that analysts expect that someone will come forward to buy at least a part of HMV, with restructuring company Hilco rumoured to be interested, having previously bought HMV Canada in 2011. Counter to the UK, Hilco oversaw a successful Christmas period, bringing in revenue of $65.4m (£40.5m).

Stemming out of the Gramophone Company, which gave the company its Nipper the dog logo, His Master's Voice opened their first shop on London's Oxford Street in 1921, with an event attended by the composer Sir Edward Elgar, who praised the "super-shop" for enabling the "the dissemination of good music by the gramophone will give us a new public which, while knowing nothing about the technical side of music will know how to listen to music with true appreciation", as the Guardian reported at the time.

The company has since gone on to operate in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the US though currently only operates in Hong Kong, Ireland and Singapore.

In recent years, the company has made moves to expand online and in the live music sector through its subsidiary company the MAMA Group, which it has since sold, as well as matching rivals like Amazon by stocking electronics and accessories. The company also bought the chain Fopp out of administration in 2007, enabling 8 of its stores to reopen as an independent operation within the HMV Group. This has since expanded to 9 stores, all of which will remain "open and trading" according to HMV.

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David N
Jan 15, 2013 12:42pm

I wonder what will happen to Fopp? I hope Fopp survives!

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Laurie Tuffrey
Jan 15, 2013 1:08pm

In reply to David N:

Good question David - I've just been in touch with HMV, who told me that Fopp's stores will remain "open and trading" as it stands, which is good news.

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Andrew Parsons
Jan 15, 2013 1:14pm

In reply to Laurie Tuffrey:

I guess Fopp will now have enough old HMV stock to resell until 2113... Glad they're not getting dragged under. I'm baffled as to why more people in the mainstream media aren't recognising that there are still independent record stores that people can go to. I know lots have gone over the last 25 years, but when people start saying "we may as well give up on physical formats" (musical idiot Professor Green) there will always be places to buy from.

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Jan 15, 2013 1:30pm

"For indie kids – especially those of us too young to venture out to the indie nightclubs in the city – the back corner of the store also provided some kind of refuge. In those dank days, a dark overcoat, a pair of dusty DMs and a shaggy hairdo were signifiers, not of perverted intent or impending homelessness, but of shared allegiances. The latest Morrissey singles were lauded in whispers, Ride albums discovered or narrowly averted. Modern life may well have been rubbish, but at least the denizens huddled in the corner of HMV knew about it."

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Jan 15, 2013 1:58pm

Very interesting companion reading, giving insight on one of the chances HMV had to course-correct back when it had a chance:

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David N
Jan 15, 2013 4:47pm

In reply to Laurie Tuffrey:

Thanks Laurie. Good news indeed!

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