STRICKEN retailer HMV is to close 66 stores including four in Yorkshire, administrators have confirmed.
Branches in Barnsley, Huddersfield, Wakefield and the White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds are among those to be shut in the move, which is set to cost nearly 1,000 jobs.
Steven Leigh, head of policy and representation at the Mid-Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said it was disappointing news.
“It is illustrative of the great difficulty that is being experienced on the region’s high streets,” he said.
“I am very sorry for any of the people engaged in these businesses.”
While online shopping has been widely blamed for the chain’s demise, Mr Leigh said rising car parking charges were also a factor that had led to some town centres being “sucked dry”.
“Councils should be aware of the reality of town centres and they shouldn’t keep putting up these parking charges and pushing visitors that would otherwise visit them into the arms of out-of-town superstores,” he said.
“That has just exacerbated the situation.
“It’s very difficult for councils to take positive action to help retailers because it is a very cut and thrust business, but I certainly don’t think they should be taking action that puts people off coming into towns.”
Short periods of free parking late on weekday afternoons or early on Saturday mornings could give high street retailers a much-needed boost, he suggested.
Administrators Deloitte said the 66 shops earmarked for closure, which employ 930 people, were all loss-making.
Nick Edwards, a partner at the firm, said the affected branches would continue to trade for now but were expected to close over the next one to two months.
The outlets were identified as part of an ongoing review of the company’s financial position and the group still hoped to secure a future for the restructured business, he added.
Mr Edwards said: “This step has been taken in order to enhance the prospects of securing the business’s future as a going concern.
We continue to receive strong support from staff and are extremely grateful to them for their commitment during an understandably difficult period.”
The closure plans come after the group axed nearly 190 jobs across its offices and distribution centres last month.
Staff used the company’s official Twitter account to announce their own “mass execution” with workers tweeting live about redundancies being made across HMV’s offices and distribution centres.
The group, which currently has 220 UK stores, called in the administrators last month, but hopes of a rescue deal have been raised after restructuring firm Hilco – the group behind HMV Canada – bought the company’s debt.
And there was good news for 200 staff at the collapsed group this week after Deloitte offloaded its remaining entertainment venues.
HMV’s majority shareholding in G-A-Y Group, which comprises a number of bars and Heaven nightclubs, has been sold to the founder and other shareholder in the business, Jeremy Joseph.
Hilco, which has declined to comment on its plans for the business, is thought to be talking to suppliers and HMV’s landlords as part of its plans to salvage the group.
Reports suggest Hilco wants to rescue about half of the shops in the UK as it looks to repeat the strategy that has seen it turn around HMV’s Canadian arm, which it bought in 2011.
The store closures follow the high-profile collapses of camera chain Jessops and DVD and game rental business Blockbuster last month.