The 363 Oxford Street branch has been shut with immediate effect, along with stores in Bluewater, Westfield, Manchester Trafford, Reading and Wimbledon.
The HMV store in Oxford Street was first opened by Sir Edward Elgar in 1921, but the high rental value and business rates have forced the closure along with other prime outlets including Westfield London. The original HMV, which re-opened in 2013 after 13 years, previously hosted The Beatles' signing of their record contract and recent performances and signings by artists including Kylie, Jess Glynne, The Darkness and Busted.
The immediate closure of 27 stores will lead to 455 job losses. A further 122 warehouse jobs will go in the coming weeks, though the acquisition has secured the future of 100 stores and around 1,500 jobs.
All the bidders for HMV had outlined a restructuring plan to suppliers that would have slimmed down the chain from its 127-store total. But there was still widespread dismay from music consumers on social media at the closure of the flagship store and other outlets. Four Fopp stores are among the casualties.
Sunrise CEO Doug Putman said they had to take the decision to close 27 stores based on lack of profitability and landlord support.
“We would have loved to [keep them open] but unfortunately as rents continue to grow and go up, it’s just not feasible to keep those stores,” he told Radio 4's Today. “You can only lose so much money on those stores before you need to make a change. Unfortunately, rents are just very high at this time."
You can only lose so much money on those stores before you need to make a change
Previous owner Hilco said HMV’s “challenges” included crippling business rates of £15m. BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor and other industry figures have called for government to look at the challenges faced by retailers such as HMV.
While acknowledging the closures and job losses, the industry has welcomed the rescue plan for the last music chain.
“Physical formats remain an essential part of music consumption, and the chain’s sales of over £250m in 2018 prove it is a key player in entertainment retail," said Proper Music Group MD Drew Hill. "Sunrise’s purchase means people will still be able to immerse themselves in an environment of music discovery with access to specialist knowledge and recommendations from staff, something chief executive Doug Putman appears well aware of.”
HMV sold 31% of all physical music in the UK in 2018 – worth around £118.8m.
Brighton's branch of HMV was one of the 100 stores to survive the new era under Sunrise.
"Although HMV’s struggles are a reflection of changing consumer demands and the increasing challenge of operating a profitable physical retail offering, losing their presence from our high street would undoubtedly have a hugely negative impact on our sector," said Natasha Youngs, co-owner of Brighton indie retailer Resident. "Aside from the sales they generate, they offer profile and racking space to lots of artists and labels that wouldn’t get it elsewhere. Customers need choice and HMV can, if they get it right, offer an environment that is unchallenging and valuable for their customers."
The full list of store closures is below:
Fopp Glasgow Byres
Plymouth Drake Circus