Christmas offers HMV some respite

HMV has repeated the warning that it faces a struggle to stay in business despite Christmas providing some respite for the beleaguered retailer.

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Sales from stores open for a year or more dipped 8.2% for the five weeks to 31 December, an improvement on the 13.2% dip reported for the 7 weeks to 17 December.

The slowing sales decline was credited with the layout changes that saw many of its stores give up a quarter of floor space to technology products. In the 144 stores refitted, same store sales were up 51% over Christmas, the company says.

HMV has been trying to refocus its business in the face of declining physical music and film sales from its high street stores and increasing competition from downloading and internet retailers.

Chief Executive Simon Fox, says the changes are “beginning to show through”.

“We are seeing a combination of a slowing of the decline in music and film, and acceleration in the growth of technology. Undoubtedly trading conditions and the consumer environment remain challenging, but we remain confident in HMV’s future prospects.”

In a statement, however, the group adds that “the economic environment and trading circumstances create material uncertainties which may cast doubt on the group’s ability to continue as a going concern in the future, and these uncertainties continue”.

The group has put its Live division up for sale to reduce debts of £136m. The division made a profit of £3.4m in the period, up from £1.4m a year earlier, while attendances at its 13 music venues and music festivals including Lovebox rose 30% in the first-half.

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