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HMV’s First Next-Gen Stores Draw A Mixed Response

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HMV’s top brass is doing the press as the entertainment retailer rolls out a new generation of high street store including digital download points, Apple iMacs and smoothies. Pre-tax profits for the year ending April 28 fell by around a half to £48.1 million thanks to “our dependence on the declining physical music category”, so HMV has opened new stores – initially in Dudley, Birmingham and Tunbridge Wells – including:-

— Mac terminals where customers can use social networks like Bebo and Facebook.
— Terminals on which they can scan CD and DVD barcodes to watch a preview and order a copy to be delivered to their door.
— Downloading of music to memory sticks.
— Xbox 360s available for networked play in the games area.

Coupled with DRM-free MP3 downloads and a social network at its website, it’s a strategy to rescue HMV from the atoms-to-bits transition that has claimed many a high street retailer. FT.com cannily points out: “MVC collapsed in December 2005 and some of its stores were bought by Music Zone; Music Zone collapsed last January and some of its stores were bought by Fopp; Fopp collapsed last June and a handful of its stores were bought by … HMV.”

HMV CEO Simon Fox (on Telegraph.co.uk): “This is not a refit, this is a fundamental rethink of how people should perceive us.” Marketing director Graham Sim (on FT.com): “Perhaps too many of our existing stores have become like Tesco