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Five Kent HMV stores among 130 sold across UK

The music lives on with the sale of more than 130 HMV stores, including five in Kent.

Hilco, a retail restructuring specialist, has bought 141 - 132 under the HMV brand and nine with the Fopp label - for an unconfirmed sum but thought to be in the region of £50 million.

The deal has saved dozens of Kent jobs at the shops in Bluewater, Maidstone, Canterbury, Westwood Cross (Broadstairs), and Tunbridge Wells. The deal has secured more than 2,600 jobs nationwide.

The iconic CD and DVD retailer founded by English composer Sir Edward Elgar in the 1920s and known for its symbolic use of the dog Nipper as His Master’s Voice, was bought from administrators Deloitte.

The HMV store in Canterbury.
The HMV store in Canterbury.

Nick Edwards, joint administrator, said: “The sale of the restructured portfolio secures the employment of 2,643 staff, saves one of the world’s most iconic retail brands and provides a solid financial footing on which the business can be taken forward. We wish the Hilco UK and HMV teams every success with the business.

Hilco has been involved in several retail restructuring deals, including Habitat, Woolworths, Borders, Clinton Cards and JJB Sports. It also transformed the fortunes of HMV Canada.

HMV collapsed into administration in January after facing fierce competition from online competitors, supermarkets and digital downloads. Scores of shops, some in Kent, have since shut. However, as the last national music retailing brand, record producers and distributors, as well as many customers and the wider public, were been keen to see its survival. The sale was helped by the support of stakeholders, including landlords.

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.”

The Hilco team will be led by Ian Topping, formerly chief executive of the Steinhoff Group in the UK, while Mr McGowan will become chairman.

Mr 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.”

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