Business News Retail Top Stories

HMV’s Oxford Street shop among those to close

By | Published on Wednesday 6 February 2019


The list of HMV shops that will close, following a rescue deal agreed earlier this week, has been published. Among those to go will be the chain’s Oxford Street store in London.

Having been put into administration by previous owner Hilco just after Christmas, it was announced earlier this week that Canadian music retailer Sunrise Records will take on the HMV UK business. While 100 shops will remain open, 27 are to close down, with new boss Doug Putman blaming high rents for that decision.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme yesterday, Putman said: “Unfortunately, as rents continue to go up it’s not feasible to keep those stores. You can only lose so much money on those stores before you need to make a change”.

HMV’s presence on London’s Oxford Street has long been seen as important and iconic for the brand. It is where the original shop opened in 1921 and HMV has had a flagship store on the central London street throughout its existence, with the exception of a two-year period when that main store relocated to Bond Street in the 1930s as a result of a fire.

Following Hilco’s acquisition of HMV after the company’s last administration in 2013, the retailer downsized its Oxford Street operation by moving to a smaller unit in 2015. However, a positive spin was put on that development because the store moved back to its original Oxford Street address, so could be presented as something as a homecoming.

However, as long ago as February 2017 it was rumoured that Hilco was considering closing even that smaller Oxford Street base because of the high costs of keeping it open.

In total, 23 HMV shops will now shut down, with four of the company’s nine Fopp stores also closing their doors for the final time. None of which is ideal, although 100 stores staying open is still a better outcome than many expected after HMV’s most recent collapse, and Sunrise’s deal has been welcomed by many in the record industry.

After trade bodies ERA and BPI formally welcomed the deal yesterday, Proper Music – one of the UK’s main players in distributing physical product to the high street – also spoke positively about Sunrise’s intervention. It said that the news that 100 HMV stores would stay in business was a “very positive outcome for the industry”, adding that “the importance of a place for music on the high street cannot be overstated”.

Proper MD Drew Hill then commented: “Physical formats remain an essential part of music consumption, and the chain’s sales of over £250 million in 2018 prove it is a key player in entertainment retail. Sunrise’s purchase means people will still be able to immerse themselves in an environment of music discovery with access to specialist knowledge and recommendations from staff, something chief executive Doug Putman appears well aware of”.

Although Hill also acknowledged the negative as well as the positive in the latest chapter in the HMV story, adding: “We understand that while some 1500 jobs will be saved, 27 stores will close, resulting in hundreds of redundancies. We hope these people are able to find alternative employment as soon as possible”.

Speaking of which, here’s the full list of HMV and Fopp shops set to close:

Bristol, Cribbs
Exeter, Princesshay
Fopp, Bristol
Fopp, Glasgow Byres
Fopp, Manchester
Fopp, Oxford
Glasgow, Braehead
Manchester, Trafford
Merry Hill
Oxford Street
Peterborough, Queensgate
Plymouth, Drake Circus
Sheffield, Meadowhall