New HMV owner sets out plans for more stores and live music - months after rescue

10 October 2019, 14:56 | Updated: 10 October 2019, 15:25

The new owner of HMV has set out plans to expand the chain - months after it was rescued from administration and closed 15 stores.

Canadian Doug Putnam, whose company Sunrise Records bought the business in February, said it was investing in new sites and refurbishments.

The company plans to open new stores next year, though it has not been specific about the number.

Mr Putnam indicated that London - where HMV closed its flagship Oxford Street site after the rescue - could be in line for more sites, saying the chain was "under-indexed" in the capital.

The businessman set out his ambitions ahead of the launch of HMV's largest ever store, at Dale End in Birmingham.

It has a large performance area at its centre and will be launched with a live show by former One Direction singer Liam Payne.

Mr Putnam told the PA news agency that introducing more live music, particularly local bands, to stores was a core part of the strategy to attract people to the shops.

HMV crashed into administration for the second time in six years in December last year, blamed on weak Christmas trading and a collapse in demand for CDs and DVDs amid the rise in streaming.

The rescue resulted in 15 stores being closed, leaving it with 114 still trading.

But that was not as bad as the level of closures initially mapped out, which would have left HMV with only 100 shops.

Mr Putnam said he had faced a "long list of issues" ranging from trying to secure new leases with landlords and improving the relationship with suppliers.

He added that "unsustainable" business rates were a particular burden on the business and called for a reduction to help high street retailers.

"You have to hope someone wakes up sooner rather than later over rates," he said.

"We want to open more stores, but we need help when it comes to rates to make that possible."