Manchester’s HMV and Fopp stores saved from closure in Hilco rescue deal – with mixed reactions from music fans

By David Keane

Manchester’s HMV and Fopp stores are being saved from closure following the acquisition of the iconic entertainment retailer by Hilco.

Thousands of jobs will be saved in the move, which will see 141 stores rescued, including Manchester’s Market Street HMV branch and all nine UK Fopp stores.

The rescue deal is rumoured to be to the tune of £50million.

HMV suffered months of financial crisis and finally collapsed in January.

Paul McGowan, CEO of Hilco, said: “We have spent a number of weeks negotiating revised terms with landlords and the key suppliers to the business, all of whom have been supportive of our plans to maintain an entertainment retailer on the High Street.

“We hope to replicate some of the success we have had in the Canadian market with the HMV Canada business which we acquired almost two years ago and which is now trading strongly. The structural differences in the markets and the higher level of competition in the UK will prove additional challenges for the UK business but we believe it has a successful future ahead of it.”

However Manchester’s music fans had mixed views upon hearing the news that the nation’s sole remaining music retailer would remain.

Music fan Wayne Lenord, from Whitefield, said: “They have already proved that they cannot survive in today’s economic climate so I don’t see the point in trying to keep them open. Their prices are ridiculous and even during their ‘closing down sales’ have been charging silly prices for DVDs and CDs you can get cheaper elsewhere.”

One former HMV worker who left shortly before the collapse called Jane* said: “I’m glad to be out of there.

“The time when people used to go and spend £15 on a CD have long gone so I can’t see how they hope to make a successful business when competing against online stores such as iTunes and so on.”

Another avid music fan said: “I suppose it’s good that such an iconic store is going to stay on the high street, but I can’t remember the last time I bought anything from there.”

The Hilco team will work alongside existing management, with the HMV UK business being led by Ian Topping, formerly Chief Executive of the Steinhoff Group in the UK, and Henry Foster, an Investment Director at Hilco while Paul McGowan will take up the role of Chairman of the new business.

Ian Topping said: “This is an exciting investment for the Hilco team and we will be able to use some of the developments already progressed in Canada to restore HMV to health. We intend to reverse the earlier decisions to sell tablets and other devices in the stores and to reclaim the space for an enhanced music and visual range.

“The reaction of the British public to the administration of HMV shows a strong desire for the business to continue to trade and we hope to play a constructive part in delivering that.”

Hilco have also confirmed that they are reviewing the possibility of re-establishing HMV in the Republic of Ireland and are currently in negotiations with landlords following store closures prior to their appointment.

*Name changed on request of the source.

Picture courtesy of MTaylor848, with thanks.

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