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HMV, the loss of a national institution

By Charlotte Amos

January 16, 2013 | 3 min read

The news that HMV is going into administration has gripped the nation. It was on the front page of most of yesterday’s papers and even Capital FM’s breakfast show did an impromptu and uncharacteristic phone-in on people’s reaction to the news. The general consensus around the country seems to be that it’s a real tragedy to lose one of our high street’s institutions.

The company that was founded in 1921 is a known and loved name on our high street and is instantly recognisable for its iconic nipper logo. Now 91 years on, HMV has failed to agree terms with the bank and it looks like they will be leaving our streets for good.

While companies such as Amazon and iTunes have taken over the digital music and film space, HMV has lagged behind in adapting with the times and moving into and integrating with the online space. Although they did eventually provide an online offer, HMV’s main focus remained in-store. However, sadly they didn’t really do enough to drive consumers into their stores.

Whilst initiatives such as their partnership with Curzon were a step in the right direction, sadly it was too little too late. They failed to adapt to a change in market and didn’t provide a strong reason to visit and point of difference versus online retailers over and above browse-ability. For me the knowledgeable and passionate store staff were always one of HMV’s key differentiators and they failed to provide an in-store platform to take advantage of this.

Is there a future for HMV? Will they follow in the footstep of Zavvi who went into administration in December 2008 and re-opened in the new guise of an online only outlet? And where will people go now in order to shop for CDs and DVDs on the high street? There are no longer any high street stores that sell as wide a selection of products, there is one thing for certain, after this and Play’s announcement that they will no longer sell direct to consumers, Amazon appear to be the real winners.

This news has shown us that brands, even beloved beacons of the high street such as HMV, are not safe from the digital takeover and they need to adapt and keep up with the evolution of the high street.


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