In Brief

HMV launches huge entertainment store in Birmingham

New ‘destination’ branch opens just months after nationwide closures and job losses

HMV is aiming to bounce back from a series of closures earlier this year by opening Europe’s largest entertainment store in Birmingham today.

The so-called HMV Vault, housed in a former Ikea warehouse near Birmingham’s Bullring shopping mall, will cover 25,000 sq ft of floor space and feature a stage, coffee shop and - according to The Times - will be “decorated with props on loan from film and TV studios for social media users to pose beside”. It will also stock around 80,000 CDs and 25,000 vinyl albums.

The opening of the store has been described as a “brave move” by The Guardian, especially “at a time when traditional high-street retailers are closing in record numbers and in a business where online streaming has battered sales of physical entertainment products”.

Indeed, HMV is one of many high street brands to have fallen on hard times in recent years, entering administration in December 2018 and overseeing the closure of 27 of its branches in early February this year, with more than 400 job losses.

Despite this significant downturn, the 98-year-old retail chain was purchased later the same month by Canadian entrepreneur Doug Putman, expressing his desire to expand the brand and managing to keep 112 HMV branches open.

Putman, who paid £883,000 for ownership of the firm, said of the Vault: “It’s a massive store with ranges no one has seen before.

“Things are changing fast and it probably seems crazy to have such a big store, but there is method behind the madness,” he added in The Telegraph. “I am a firm believer in the potential for British high street retail and HMV will play a fundamental role in ensuring that our shopping districts continue to thrive.”

The Guardian also reports Putman as saying that HMV has “more vinyl titles in stock in this store than sold in the whole of last year in the UK”, adding: “We need this to be a destination.”

Putman and HMV claim, says the Telegraph, to have “ploughed millions of pounds into the facility” and is paying “around £100,000 a year in rent”.

But the retailer is refusing to stop there, with Sky News reporting that the company plans to open even more new stores next year, though it has not been specific about the number.

Former One Direction star Liam Payne will perform at the store’s launch today, with fellow chart topper and X Factor star James Arthur playing there on Saturday, according to the Daily Mirror.

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