Business News Retail

HMV planning to open ten new shops, including new London flagship store

By | Published on Wednesday 21 July 2021

Doug Putman

Currently marking its centenary year, HMV is set to open ten new high street shops, including a new flagship store in London, according to current owner Doug Putman.

“Our online business – very similar to most retailers – doubled, tripled throughout the pandemic”, Putmen tells the BBC. “[But] it still doesn’t obviously make up for the loss of 100-plus stores” which were forced to close at various points during lockdown.

“People obviously love going out shopping, they like touching and feeling, and that’s something that online is not going to replace”, he goes on. “I do believe … you’re going to get more people trying to open up different stores and have different ideas. I’m still very optimistic on the [HMV] business, and business as a whole on the high street. I still think the high street is just something so special”.

Speaking to The Guardian, he added: “One thing I hope we will take from this is that everyone had been kind of sad [since the pandemic began]. Outside of the illness, when you look at people’s lives a big part of that is walking outside and going to the high street and doing some shopping. When you see bookstores and coffee shops and HMVs closed and everything online it is not as much fun as it used to be. Hopefully people have seen this world where everything is Amazon and it is not all that great”.

When the owner of the Canadian HMV business and record store chain Sunrise Records bought HMV UK out of administration in 2019, he managed to save 100 stores. However, the 27 that closed down during that change of ownership included its original Oxford Street shop. The retail firm’s previous owners had actually moved the company’s flagship London store back into that unit in 2015, having given up a larger space elsewhere in the capital as part of downsizing efforts.

Now Putman tells the BBC that the company is taking a “very hard look” at possible sites for a new flagship store in London. However, he also adds that the company will not be making “any long-term deals”, due to ongoing uncertainty in the retail market – not least because businesses are currently operating on lower business rates due to the pandemic, with that discount in place until April next year, and it’s not clear how much rates will increase by after that.

A spokesperson for HMV clarified: “We’re continuing to expand with new sites, looking at a combination of factors before making a decision. The upcoming business rates review will no doubt have an impact, not only on HMV, but on the wider British high street. In some locations, even with good deals from landlords, rates make stores unviable”.

BPI stats earlier this year showed that physical format music sales continued to decline in 2020, possibly in part because of the COVID-caused shutdown of the high street. The overall drop was only 2.6% though, with physical sales still accounting for nearly a fifth of UK record industry revenues.

Physical declines in recent years have been lessened by the ongoing vinyl revival, of course. In 2020 a 30.5% increase in vinyl sales helped to counter the 18.5% decline in CD sales. Vinyl revenues are now on course to overtake CD income in the UK for the first time since the late 1980s.

Also as part of its centenary celebrations, HMV has announced that Ed Sheeran will play a special birthday show for 700 fans at the HMV Empire venue in Coventry next month.