Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Here comes the Sunrise

Good news at last for HMV, which has been saved from collapse by Canadian firm Sunrise Records. It's a risky purchase given the "tsunami" of retail challenges former owners Hilco blamed for the chain's predicament and comes at the cost of a few store closures (including some of those in prime retail locations such as Oxford Street in London and Manchester's Trafford Centre). However, at least it hasn't fallen into the unscrupulous hands of Sports Direct supremo Mike Ashley, and the move will protect distribution networks that are invaluable to labels and bands and also preserve the possibility of buying hard-copy music on the nation's high streets.

Encouragingly, Sunrise's chief exec Doug Putnam seems to have an understanding of what people actually want in a record shop (something that Hilco apparently didn't): "People like to come into a store, have an experience, talk with someone who understands music, loves music, loves video and entertainment. If you think online is the only future, I don't think that is the case. There is so much you get from coming into a store that you can't get online."

What's more, he also seems to appreciate the need for local flavour and sensitivity rather than identikit one-size-fits-all policies dictated centrally and from on high. A chain store that allows relative autonomy rather than insisting on homogeneity? HMV could yet win back my custom.

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