HMV boss reflects on Oxford Street re-opening, wants more stores

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Plans are afoot for more HMV stores, reveals Doug Putman, as profits for the chain continue to rise.

For most of us who live outside London, the re-opening of the HMV store on Oxford Street is something that makes no material difference to our everyday lives. Yet as a statement of intent, bringing the chain back to London is a testament to the turnaround of the HMV business. Five years after facing oblivion, a takeover from Canadian businessman Doug Putman has resulted in HMV being turned around, and looking forward again.

In the light of increased profits for HMV last year too, Putman has been chatting about the decision to return to Oxford Street in the first place. He told Music Week that a reduction in rents and rates made it possible. He also made the argument, and few in London would disagree with this, “from the landlord’s perspective, do you want HMV or do you want a candy shop?”

He’s not being metaphorical either. For the last year or so before HMV reacquired the site, the premises had been used to house one of London’s endless collection of overpriced American sweet shops.  

Putman is bullish about opening more stores, too. HMV is already expanding in Europe, but when it comes to UK shores, he has future plans as well. “There’s still lots of expansion opportunity in the UK, specifically London”, he argues. “The flagship store will allow us to see what kind of volume we can do. But hopefully that leads us to opening up a few more stores in London.”

As such, the parent business – Sunrise Records – is looking for new HMV and Fopp stores at the moment, and hopefully, there will be announcements later in the year as and when fresh sites are procured.

One last thing. I went into the new HMV Oxford Store just before Christmas. My heart sank as I walked through the ground floor of fluffy toys and assorted memorabilia, which is presumably where the profit is made. My heart soared when I ventured upstairs and saw the extensive physical media section.

Seems a balance has been struck there, and here’s to more stores selling DVDs, Blu-rays and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.

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