FEATURE: Closing Time: Is It the End for HMV?




Closing Time


IN THIS PHOTO: HMV’s flagship store on London’s Oxford Street that closed in 2017/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images 

Is It the End for HMV?


IT doesn’t seem that long ago...


IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images 

we were faced with the sad prospect of HMV closing its stores. When I was growing up, there used to be quite a few different record store chains – Our Price was my favourite. The chain closed its doors in 2004 and another great retailer, Fopp, only has a few stores open now. At its peak, there were fifty in total and it seems the days of Fopp are numbered. Look around the high-street now and how many record stores are there?! Apart from independent record stores, we do not really have a lot of choice. It is unfortunate HMV is being threatened with possible extinction. It might not be as bad as all its stores closing but, as this article shows; there is a real danger for HMV and its employees:

HMV has collapsed into administration for the second time in six years, putting more than 2,200 jobs at risk.

The music and film retailer appointed administrators from KPMG after sales slumped over Christmas.

It said sales of DVDs across the whole market had plunged by 30% on last year and retailers of all types were facing “a tsunami of challenges”.

HMV confirmed on Friday that its 125 UK stores will remain open while talks with suppliers and potential buyers continue.

The 97-year-old retailer was rescued by Hilco, a restructuring company, when it previously entered administration in 2013...


IN THIS PHOTO: World Music Record Department (date unknown) at HMV, Oxford Street (London)/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images  

Paul McGowan, the executive chairman of HMV and Hilco, said the decline in the CD and DVD market had made the situation impossible.

During the key Christmas trading period, the market for DVDs fell by over 30% compared to the previous year, and while HMV performed considerably better than that, such a deterioration in a key sector of the market is unsustainable,” he said.

“HMV has clearly not been insulated from the general malaise of the UK high street and has suffered the same challenges with business rates and other government-centric policies, which have led to increased fixed costs in the business”.

I do hope someone comes in and saves HMV because it would be a shame to see the sole surviving music titan disappear. I think the main problem with HMV is its reliance of HMV. I have been to a few different stores and they are getting a lot better regarding music and stocking a great range of vinyl. There was a time, fairly recently, where there was not a lot of vinyl and it was hard to get a good selection. HMV realised that music needs to be at the heart of the business but, when one walks into an HMV store, the DVDs are taking up too much room! How many of us watch DVDs a lot now?! I still have a collection but more and more of us are watching services like Netflix and Amazon.


 IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images

I think a lot of stores like HMV are in danger because they are relying on formats and technologies that are starting to disappear from the landscape. You can say there are not many record stores around because we are streaming more and listening to vinyl – the role of C.D.s is diminishing and we are turning to platforms like Spotify more. There is definitely a role for physical music and I think HMV needs to return to music and keep DVDs to a minimum. I like the fact one has a DVD choice when you walk into a store but it is taking too much room up and there needs to be a switch. I also think there is a pricing issue. Think about the sales this time of year and you can pick up some cheap C.D.s and DVDs. It is easy to get a bundle of older and new releases which probably doesn’t help the profit margin. The reason many of us go to HMV – for the vinyl – has not been touched with the same generous pricing. Very few records are priced reasonably so fanatics and casual listeners can happily afford them. One can say websites and online markets are no better and vinyl is expensive no matter what. Not only do chains like HMV need to keep their selection of records rich and varied; the prices need to be lower so they can compete with online giants.

 PHOTO CREDIT: @rawpixel/Unsplash

Is it just a simple case of reshift and a new focus?! I think there are deeper problems but HMV needs a big administrator/company who can think about the market and how survival can be assured. I think there is an appetite for record shops on the high-street but more and more are either going online or to independent shops. I would hate to see HMV die because it is the final giant that stands against the online onslaught. Perhaps it is a sad and inevitable sign of the modern market and the dwindling high-street. I feel vinyl should be up front and a pricing review should happen. The reason we go to record shops is for the vinyl and I feel HMV needs to realise that. Having more affordable records would tempt people in but I feel C.D.s still need to be part of the mix. Maybe you cannot get rid of DVDs entirely but they need to play a minor part of the brand. As it stands now, HMV seems more about films and T.V. than it does music. It is hard to say exactly why the chain is threatened again but, as the above article continues; the problem extends to the rest of the high-street:

Meanwhile, big high-street names including Primark, John Lewis and Superdry sounded the alarm on trading conditions in the run-up to Christmas, and more retailers are expected to follow.

A report by KPMG and Ipsos Retail Think Tank warned there will be “more casualties to come” on the high street, as the battle to win customers and stay afloat will intensify in 2019...


PHOTO CREDIT: @alexandre_godreau/Unsplash 

Richard Lim, the chief executive of Retail Economics, said HMV was the “first victim” of poor Christmas trading, as the industry faces a major shift in consumer behaviour, fiercer competition and spiralling operating costs.

Alex Neill from the consumer group Which? advised anyone with HMV vouchers to spend them as soon as possible”.

I do worry about the high-street in general and how many other chains are endangered. If HMV does close then one has to ask whether music on the high-street will disappear altogether. Aside from some independent record shops; where does one go to get music on the high-street?! I feel, whatever HMV does, it is going to be bested by the wider choice and lower prices one can find on the Internet. I would hate to see HMV end as it has been around since 1921 – His Master’s Voice, to give it its full name – and it has provided lots of great memories and times. I have bought a lot of my favourite music from HMV and would not have got into the industry were it not for chains like this. To let it end and go into administration would be a travesty but, if it does survive a second time, then measures need to come in that ensure survival and growth. Every case of a high-street retailer closing down is tragic but, if we let HMV slip away, it is a loss that will be...


IN THIS PHOTO: HMV 363, Oxford Street (London) - Interior of store late-1960s or early-1970s/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images  

HARD to take.