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HMV boss insists his company has a future on the high street

By | Published on Friday 18 March 2011


HMV boss man Simon Fox has insisted that his firm will have a long-term presence on the high street, despite his stores continuing to struggle, and his company’s recent expansion into live music, talent management and digital services.

According to the Financial Times, Fox told a Retail Week conference that “in five years’ time, we will still have hundreds of stores on the high street, but will be selling different products to what we’re selling today”. Pointing to the expansion of techie products at one of HMV’s London stores, he added “this gives a good indication of how we will refresh our estate”.

HMV is very much under the spotlight at the moment, of course, as it struggles to meet the terms of its £130 million bank loans. After a set of disappointing pre-Christmas sales figures Fox announced the closure of 40 HMV stores and 20 more Waterstones shops.

As Fox tries to restructure his firm’s debts, there have been rumours one of the company’s shareholders, Russian businessman Alexander Mamut, is interested in buying the Waterstones chain, providing HMV with some useful cash flow. Though the entertainment firm’s CEO wouldn’t comment on those rumours at the Retail Week event.

He did, however, address his company’s ongoing talks with its moneylenders, saying: “It will take some weeks, possibly months, to renegotiate terms but it’s moving in the direction we want it to move in. We have been talking to [the banks] since January, it’s a complex and laborious process. We are moving through the process absolutely according to timetable”.

With regards his predictions for HMV’s high street future, most analysts the FT spoke to seemed skeptical. One expressed surprise at the idea HMV would still have hundreds of stores in five years time, while Nick Bubb of Arden Partners told the paper: “HMV need to be careful what they wish for. They do have a future in selling technology, but there is a risk in losing authority in core product while they make the transition. They may find it just as low a margin commodity market as the one they are trying to escape from”.