Sports Direct, the company led by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, will open a new superstore at 150 Oxford Street, the current site of HMV’s London flagship.
The sportswear giant is understood to have exchanged contracts to take on HMV’s lease at the 60,000 square feet premises, currently the largest music shop in the world. Sports Direct currently have a smaller branch nearby but are expected to move as soon as the deal is finalised and HMV have relocated to a new premises further up the street.
HMV, who bought out of administration by Hilco in April, agreed earlier this month to move back to their original flagship at 363 Oxford Street, a site currently occupied by US chain Footlocker. 363 Oxford Street is roughly a third of the size of HMV’s current site, and was opened in July 1921 by Sir Edward Elgar and Francis Barraud, the artist who painted the famous His Master’s Voice, which became the retailer’s logo. There is plaque at the shop marking the “world’s most famous music store”.
The Oxford Street store became the base for a rapid expansion of HMV and the record label backing the retailer, EMI. However, HMV collapsed into administration in January of this year following a slump in sales as the 92-year-old entertainment retailer struggled to compete with online rivals and supermarkets. Three months later, the company was rescued by Hilco in a £50m deal, saving 2,643 jobs and 141 shops.
Sports Direct is understood to have paid a premium of between £2.5m-£5m for the Oxford Street shop, which is owned by Langham Estates and has an annual rent of around £3.2m. Separately, the Sports Direct group announced yesterday it had bought outdoors brand Gelert out of administration, just months after rescuing the collapsed fashion chain Republic.
Gelert have five stores in Wales and Ireland and are based in Merseyside from where it runs its wholesale business. Sports Direct is looking to grow its outdoors arm and already owns Field & Trek and the Karrimor brand.