HMV hopes for festive pick-up after poor summer

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Struggling retailer HMV yesterday admitted its trading woes continued over the summer as it pinned its recovery hopes on a strong line-up of festive releases.

The group, which has around 250 stores, said like-for-like sales fell 11.6 per cent in the 20 weeks to September 15, although the rate of decline slowed towards the end of the period as it benefited from new technology ranges.

New chief executive Trevor Moore expects trading to be boosted by a strong line-up of music, film and games launches ahead of Christmas, with offerings from X Factor winner One Direction and Robbie Williams and a James Bond 50th anniversary boxset set to prove popular.

And the launch of a new Samsung Galaxy tablet computer and new Apple iPods will help the group’s strategy of selling more technology products.

The group did not blame its performance on the disruption caused by the Olympics but instead said there had been a “very quiet” release schedule of new music, DVDs and CDs in the period.

However, it claimed to have won share of the declining market for these products and said its drive to focus on new technology, such as wireless headphones, tablet computers and headphones, was paying off.

Mr Moore, previously the boss of camera retailer Jessops, said: “These numbers reflect the challenging markets in which we operate.

“However, the like-for-like decline was less marked towards the end of the period and we should be helped in the remainder of the year by a strong pipeline of new releases in the music, DVD and games markets ahead of Christmas.”

HMV, which slumped to a loss of £16.2m in the year to April 28, has been embroiled in a turnaround struggle in recent years after being hit by the demise of the high street and competition from internet downloads. But it hopes to make profits of at least £10m this year.

Shares have fallen nearly 95 per cent over the past two years, leaving the business with a market value of just £12m.

Seymour Pierce analyst Kate Calvert said: “We see no reason to change our sell recommendation and continue to believe there will be no let up in the structural pressures on the business from online or the supermarkets. We see HMV as a value trap with potentially insurmountable structural issues.”

Its struggle has seen it sell-off several parts of its business, including the Waterstones book retailer.