HMV: This is our turning point

HMV is back from the brink after months of turmoil, CEO Simon Fox has told MCV.

The entertainment retailer hit difficulties earlier this year after issuing multiple profit warnings on the back of falling sales.

But now Fox says that the 53m sale of its Waterstone’s chain will help the company slash its debt and accelerate a transformation plan designed to turn retailer HMV into an ‘entertainment super brand’.

This includes investing in its live music business, rolling out new technology sections across all its stores and growing its digital business – which, yes, includes launching a video games download store.

The Waterstone’s sale is a turning point,” said Fox. We went through a very tough restructuring, but that is behind us.

We still have to get the bank facility in place and we need shareholder approval for this transaction. That will all complete, I expect, by the end of June. And then we will be free to drive the business forward and become an entertainment brand across all channels.

We need to continue to invest in our stores. We want to continue to grow our share in games. We are going to increase in-store space for technology products such as iPads. We need to build our online and digital presence. And then we have actually had a good year and a good quarter with our Live division. We had some 16 per cent growth with our music venues.

It is an evolution at speed. We need to change the mix of what we sell and we need to do that quickly.”

Fox also took a pop at unhelpful” media for exacerbating an already delicate situation. And he hopes the days of HMV’s demise being reported in the press is over.

He said: It is tough being knocked left and right by the press. It is tough reading endless speculation – a lot of it true and a lot of it not true.

I look forward to putting that stuff behind us, getting our heads down, getting out of the headlines, and moving forward in a positive way.”

HMV hit trouble back in December after issuing a profit warning and admitting it was unlikely to pass its banking tests.

Further profit warnings followed, forcing the retailer to offload Waterstone’s.

HMV shareholder and Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut snapped up the book chain for 53m – a figure far higher than the 35m speculated by the national press.

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