When HMV went into liquidation in January, many people assumed that was the end for nationwide chains of music stores. But in April, HMV was bought out for an estimated £50 million by Hilco. This week, HMV has re-opened its flagship store at 363 Oxford Street. Here, Hilco chief executive and HMV chairman Paul McGowan explains HMV’s future.
When Hilco bought HMV in April, lots of business people told us we were making a mistake. We were told nobody wanted to buy physical music any more, and that those who do only bought CDs from supermarkets. Our experience told us that was wrong. Three years ago, Hilco bought out HMV in Canada and we’ve seen over there that if you get people excited about going into your shops, they’ll buy music. We’re aware that HMV made mistakes. The stores had stopped being fun places to go into. Once they got into debt, with no plan to bring things forward again, HMV lost its mojo. We rescued 141 branches when we took over HMV and we want to see more stores re-open, where possible. We’re re-opening stores in Watford and Swindon, for instance. These are the five ways HMV will change:
Improve what we stock
When Hilco took over, HMV could no longer afford to stock as many artists as it should. We’re putting a lot of effort into improving that. We need to stock as wide a range of music as possible. Band merchandise is something we want to engage with as well. You’ll see a good selection of T-shirts, mugs and so on for the bigger acts like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and it’s something that will get bigger.
Relaunch our digital store
HMV got left behind in the digital revolution and didn’t have a digital presence for too long. We need to quickly get HMV up to speed, and will be announcing a relaunch of our digital side within the next month, so that people can buy from us in the way they want.
Increase the number of Fopp stores
We rescued the nine remaining Fopp branches as part of the HMV deal. We’ve been examining what’s going on the independent record store market and learned some good practice there, which we can act on via Fopp. It’s quite a different brand from HMV and we’re looking to expand the number of Fopp stores.
Blur played on the roof at 363 Oxford Street in 1995, and we want the return of event appearances like that. But it isn’t just about big names. Our Irish branches have specific evenings dedicated to breaking local new bands, and that’s something to consider in the UK too, as part of interacting with the music industry. Around October 18th, we’ll be announcing one of the biggest names in the world as playing a gig at our newly-reopened flagship store at 363 Oxford Street in London.
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We’re building a programme that will let local staff to decide how high a percentage of product goes into their stores. So many cities have local scenes, and they need to be represented in our stores.