Brighton’s HMV store saved

Music and entertainment store HMV will remain open in Brighton’s Churchill Square despite the closure of almost 30 shops across the UK, the company have announced, following its acquisition by Sunrise Records.

At the end of last year Britain’s music news was full of despairing reports about HMV’s misfortunes, with the company heading into administration for the second time in six years. It seemed like another of Britain’s major high street music retailers was about to close its doors for good, a couple of years shy of its 100th anniversary.

There has been an inescapable trend taking hold in the last 20 years, as music audiences increasingly spend money online – digital sales, made up mostly of music streaming, now account for over 50% of global music industry revenue. Physical sales are not completely dead, and there’s been some surprisingly strong growth particularly in vinyl, but the high street also has to compete with massive online retailers, like Amazon, taking a huge slice of the market with a fraction of the overheads a high street shop has to shoulder.

Still, nobody wanted to see HMV disappear, and so the music industry breathed a collective sigh of relief when it was announced that Canadian record store chain, Sunrise Records, had bought the firm and would take over running 100 of their UK outlets. Unfortunately this means we will be seeing around 30 HMV and Fopp (who were owned by HMV) stores closing around the country.

Thankfully, looking at a list of shops likely to close, published by the administrators KPMG, our branch in Brighton’s Churchill Square looks set to escape the cull. It will be very interesting to see what moves Sunrise Records make to turn the business around. The company bought all of the Canadian HMV stores a couple of years ago, and they’ve managed to succeed there by recognising the vinyl revival and focussing on that area, boosting CD stock, stocking more merchandise, and improving the customer experience.

It’s a testament to how strong the love for music is in this city that we get to keep our HMV when historic sites like London’s Oxford Street store are set to close. Here’s hoping it will make that 100th anniversary after all, and beyond, but to do so they’re going to have to work really hard to pull in the punters.