HMV – back to the future

The HMV Group, currently known primarily as a high street retailer, is in the process of transforming its business and “…. as the UK’s  only specialist entertainment retailer of scale is …. evolving as a broad-based entertainment business”.

As part of its revised strategy it aims to:

  • “ Reinvigorate HMV stores with the expansion of our range of portable digital products”

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  • “Increase HMV’s activities in the high-growth markets of live, ticketing and digital”

The company’s roots were as part of the EMI Group formed in 1931 on the merger of the HMV part (The Gramophone Company) with the Columbia Gramophone Company. Initially it produced gramophones and gramophone records. From the mid 30’s through the early ‘60’s HMV were high quality producers and sellers of  audio (and visual) devices and content. (Photo history)

It was from the 60’s and due to the explosion of the recorded music industry that its retail expansion took place with its concentration on the content side (recorded music +). This was certainly helped, and arguably brought about, by The Beatles rise to fame (they were initially contracted to EMI). Again, arguably. the HMV trademark became one of the most famous in the world, the Apple logo of its day!

It is now looking to refocus the retail side with increased device revenues and has we understand been very successful in selling throughout the UK from its 232 outlets a large number of the Google Nexus 7 tablets. We also hear that it may, in addition to many other audio devices it currently sells, consider selling smartphones.

A lot of today’s headlines concern their Cambridge store’s opening  (August 18) which includes a “Social Media” café which has “ open Wi-Fi and free re-charging connection points and adaptors..” enabling  “…people to browse the Internet or check their smartphones as they enjoy a frothy cappuccino or other hot or cold beverages served by their very own HMV barista! The refreshment area will also feature a ‘community’ blackboard for local residents and band members to post messages and flyers.”

We understand that this type of “social café” will possibly be considered on any appropriate stores refit but will not be rolled out to a large number of stores although free wifi likely will be.

They are “increasingly developing a fully-fledged multi-channel offer across its combined store, online and digital estate. As part of this it has recently launched a successful ‘Click & Collect’ service that is proving popular among customers wishing to check into the local availability of a title before ordering it online at and then collecting it from their nearest HMV store.”

We wish them well.

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