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HMV doing just fine, says Hilco boss

By | Published on Monday 7 July 2014

HMV Digital

Despite fluctuations in its national network of stores, with some branches quietly shuttered over the last twelve months, and others moved to cheaper sites, the boss of the company that bought HMV out of administration last year remains bullish. And having shrunk from 144 stores to 125, the all-new HMV is now considering opening four new shops on top of its previously reported re-entry into the Irish market.

Hilco chief Paul McGowan last week told the Telegraph that, having slashed the firm’s overheads by moving out of more costly shop units and reducing annual central costs from £42 million to £15 million, HMV now has healthy financials.

Of course, as a privately-owned company the new HMV’s performance can’t be as closely analysed as when it was a publicly listed firm, though McGowan says that like-for-like sales (allowing for store closures and such like) were up 9.2% year-on-year for the second quarter of 2014. Meanwhile CD sales in store were up 12%, he added, during the same period that digital album sales were down.

While McGowan’s HMV did re-enter the digital space with a lacklustre mobile-centric download store last year, the Hilco boss says he sees his firm’s main competitors as the supermarkets and Amazon, rather than iTunes or Spotify. And with that in mind he reckons that an increase in in-store events has helped with HMV’s revival, the opportunity to see artists play live being something the supermarkets have no desire to replicate, and the big bad Amazon simply cannot. And, he adds, in-stores usually result in a sales uplift.

Although it’s still early-doors, and the Hilco boss says he doesn’t anticipate selling HMV on for a couple of years yet (despite, he adds, already receiving offers), McGowan said of the entertainment retailer “this business is flying”. More in-stores and stepped-up activity in the gaming space are the top priority for the rest of 2014, it seems.