Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Will opine for food

With HMV cutting off limbs in a bid to stay alive, Gennaro Castaldo has been out and about trying to shore up confidence in the stores.

He's assured Watford that they shouldn't be alarmed:

Mr Castaldo said: “We are actually talking about a relatively small number of stores across HMV and Waterstone's chains - less than 10 per cent of our combined estates, which are likely to be located primarily in large-city conurbations and may be in close proximity to each other – thus resulting in a degree of duplication in relation to local demand, which is obviously not an issue in Watford.

“The vast majority of HMV stores around the country will not be affected, and we will look to ensure that the specialist offer and service that we make available to our customers in these locations is maintained. Likewise, we will look to redeploy any affected staff where we possibly can.

“This move in no way signals any intention to pull out of entertainment retail, which remains at the heart of our offer, and is ultimately aimed at safeguarding our core business as we continue our transformation into a broad-based entertainment brand that now also encompasses live music venues and festivals.”
But what about St Albans? Can residents there trust they'll be able to keep shopping at HMV?
“We are actually talking about a relatively small number of stores across HMV and Waterstone's chains - less than 10 per cent of our combined estates, which are likely to be located primarily in large-city conurbations and may be in close proximity to each other – thus resulting in a degree of duplication in relation to local demand, which is obviously not an issue in St Albans.

“This move in no way signals any intention to pull out of entertainment retail, which remains at the heart of our offer, and is ultimately aimed at safeguarding our core business as we continue our transformation into a broad-based entertainment brand that now also encompasses live music venues and festivals.”
It's that sort of attention to reflecting the local market that makes HMV such a success, of course.

Could Gennaro also make a tiny tweak to his script for all of Essex and Suffolk, too?

Glad you asked:
Gennaro Castaldo, head of press and PR at HMV UK and Ireland, said the stores to be closed were “likely to be located primarily in large-city conurbations and may be in close proximity to each other, thus resulting in a degree of duplication in relation to local demand, which is not really the case in Suffolk and Essex”.

He added: “This move in no way signals any intention to pull out of entertainment retail, which remains at the heart of our offer, and is ultimately aimed at safeguarding our core business as we continue our transformation into a broad-based entertainment brand that now also encompasses live music venues and festivals."
It almost sounds as if there's nowhere at all that HMV will be closing its stores.

It's going to be 40 HMVs, 20 Waterstones, by the way.

The finger of blame being pointed at the poor weather, of course - although the snow was the same snow that fell outside John Lewis, and they managed to increase their sales to record levels.

HMV also mutter that they've been hit by a slump in entertainment sales generally. But Rough Trade saw their sales grow at Christmas. So that's not a real explanation, either.

On NME.com, Laura Snapes suggests that indie musicians might suffer if HMV vanishes, for two reasons.

The first is that HMV pays upfront rather than takes records on a sale or return basis - which is fair enough, although the genuinely independent range at HMV is so small these days it's only a small contribution.

Laura also worries that if you take HMV out of the equation, you lose the Fifty Quid Man:
£50 man is usually cause for slight ridicule (hi dad!) rather than concern, but Colin Roberts, who works in artist management and online PR, is well aware of how artists could suffer without his haphazard forays into HMV.

“Those people who see an act on Jools Holland’s programme, or read about them in a broadsheet, and then buy a record because of it – they’re about the only people who end up propelling an artist to recoup.”
But this misses the point: HMV is struggling because HMV has changed itself into a horrid place to browse for music, a kind of Lord Of The Flies flashmob where the CD section has been hidden behind an army of lifesize Borat cut-outs. Saying we need to save HMV to protect older blokes who impulse buy records is on a par with launching a campaign to protect Mauritius to help the dodo.


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