Saturday, April 06, 2013

Gennaro Castaldo watch as HMV lurches into another new start

So the last sighting in the public prints of Gennaro Castaldo came a couple of weeks back as Bracknell's HMV shut down. He'd taken on the role of the sad-eyed uncle at a funeral:

Gennaro Castaldo, head of PR for the entertainment chain, said that he is "very, very sad" to see the store go.

He told the News: "With a number of the stores Deloitte decided to bring the closure forward. Obviously it's not totally unexpected, it's more or less in the time frame they [Deloitte] spoke about of four-six weeks.

"I met the staff there [at Bracknell] before Christmas and it was a real pleasure, they're a fantastic group of kids and we wish them the very best.

"We'd also like to thank our customers in Bracknell who've shopped with us for years."
At the same time, Gennaro predicted that there would be a buyer for HMV in "the next week or so" and, indeed, more or less on cue Hilco picked up the remaining stores in the chain. And Fopp, too. No independent Fopp, then, at least not yet.

This means that - once again - HMV is set for a revamp of format:
The sale of T-shirts and other artist memorabilia are expected to be at the heart of an optimistic "we are entertainment" revival plan for HMV, which was rescued by a turnaround firm in a £50m deal that has secured about 2,500 jobs at 141 of the retailer's stores.

Hilco, the new owner, plans to concentrate on selling music and film and step away from selling consumer electronics. Music labels and film studios, keen to ensure that a major entertainment retailer remains on the high street, are understood to have agreed to support HMV with new supply terms.
In Hilco's favour, then, are new agreements with landlords and suppliers, and a dumping of a lot of the outstanding debt and underperforming stores.

Dumping the foolish desire to flog iPads and overpriced headphones makes sense, too. Trying to nudge the store into a different declining High Street niche never made sense.

And Hilco do at least have a track record they can point to - their Canadian variant had a really great Christmas, albeit relying as much on tshirts with the word "Bazinga" on them as selling records.

Whether it'll work in the UK, I'm not so sure. I suspect what Hilco have bought is a business from which they'll be reaping a dwindling profit across its declining years. But that's a better fate than the proposal which would have seen HMV become a brand slapped over the DVD rack in the corner of an Asda.