HMV stores 'work miracles' with rapid roll-out of music chain's huge vinyl expansion plan

HMV stores 'work miracles' with rapid roll-out of music chain's huge vinyl expansion plan

HMV has revealed the scale of its nationwide vinyl expansion plans, which are set to be completed this month.

In the latest issue of Music Week, we look at how this could boost the vinyl market at a time when sales are flat. Despite the annual vinyl bonanza that is Record Store Day, Q2 sales were actually down 1.1% year-on-year (a dip partly caused by Q2 2018’s Arctic Monkeys album).

The major re-fit of stores will cover 104 branches, with the vast majority completed. Fopp stores, which already stock a wide range of vinyl, are not part of the current makeover.

“It is a big job and it was an expensive job, stores have worked miracles to get it turned around so quickly,” said HMV head of music John Hirst.

According to new figures from Kantar, HMV lost some market share in Q2 compared to the prior year, as it adjusted to emerging from administration and new ownership under Doug Putman. But now it’s targeting growth, particularly for vinyl, with both major label and indie catalogue set for a boost.

At 4,000 titles, the Westfield branch is now the biggest in London for vinyl. The biggest HMVs across the country can stock up to 6,000 titles. The previous average in an HMV branch was 700 titles.

“We’ve basically completely re-designed our [display units], acknowledging that ultimately they weren’t really fit for purpose if you wanted a really deep vinyl range,” said Hirst. “It had quite a big footprint with quite a low capacity and it was quite restricted about where it could go in store.” 

It’s basically trebled our capacity within the same store footprint

John Hirst

A deeper vinyl range including more catalogue was a priority for new owner Doug Putman when he took control of HMV earlier this year – as revealed in his Music Week cover story. HMV has already reported a strong Vinyl Week

“We were very keen going forward to get vinyl much nearer the front of the store, just to try and increase awareness that we stocked vinyl and had a decent range,” said Hirst. “It’s basically trebled our capacity within the same footprint."

The move comes as supermarkets are squeezing shelf space for entertainment

Putman is CEO of Sunrise Records in Canada, which has aimed to be a community hub with the feel of an indie retailer. It’s something HMV is now emulating.

“We wanted to try and make the stores look a bit less supermarket-y and re-establish some of those specialist credentials,” said Hirst of the makeover. 

For more on HMV’s revamp, see the latest issue of Music Week – subscribers can read it in full here. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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