British music and film retailer HMV Group Plc will relaunch its online store on Nov. 1, as part of a turnaround plan under new Canadian owner Doug Putman.
Putman said in a phone interview that he also plans to open several new stores in 2020, with a particular focus on London. This is in addition to a 25,000 square-foot flagship store in Birmingham opening Friday that will have an indoor performance space. The company, founded in 1921, has 114 U.K. stores currently, down from almost 300 in 2010.
One of Britain’s most embattled retail chains, HMV first filed for protection from creditors in 2013 and then again in 2018. It was bought by Putman’s Sunrise Records & Entertainment Ltd. in February this year for about 900,000 pounds (US$1.1 million), fending off interest from Sports Direct International Plc owner Mike Ashley. Sunrise had already bought HMV’s Canadian unit in 2017.
“It’s a great brand, and the customers are very passionate about it,” said Putman, 35. “We are putting a lot more focus on vinyl, which is driving traffic.”
Since March, Putman has tried to capitalize on a renewed interest in records among younger customers, expanding the average number of them in each store to 5,000 from 500. Sales of the format have jumped 70 per cent in the period, he said.
Putman acknowledged that he’s competing in a struggling industry, but said he’s confident HMV can at least outperform rivals.
“If the market is facing a 20 per cent decline in sales, we’ll be trying to get a low single-digit decline,” he said.
Sunrise plans to maintain HMV’s hipster-focused subsidiary, Fopp, which will have a separate online launch in early 2020, he said.