HMV Live Music Arm Up For Sale As Losses Mount
Struggling retailer HMV has said it was looking to sell its live music division as it bids to bolster its finances after it nearly doubled half-year losses.
The group, which recently sold bookseller Waterstone's, said it was placing HMV Live, which runs 13 venues and a number of festivals including Lovebox in London and Global Gathering near Stratford-upon-Avon, under strategic review which may lead to its sale.
Elsewhere, HMV, which owns 252 stores in the UK, said its shift in focus to technology products, which has seen 144 stores refitted to reflect the new emphasis, was paying off with like-for-like sales of headphones, speakerdocks and tablet computers up 144%.
But the company revealed a bottom-line pre-tax loss of £45.7 million in the 26 weeks to October 29, compared to £27.4 million last year, while like-for-like retail sales fell 13.2% in the seven weeks to December 17.
Shares in HMV fell nearly 10% after the results were published.
Looking ahead, the group warned the economic and trading environment created "material uncertainties" which may cast doubt over its future, while directors continued to engage in talks with its lenders.
The group previously announced the closure of up to 60 stores in a bid to make £10 million of cost savings, with 15 shut in the first half of the year. Meanwhile, the sale of Waterstone's and HMV Canada raised the group £55 million and ensured a £220 million refinancing deal with its lending banks.
HMV's decision to place its concerts division under review comes despite the business posting a robust performance in the first half of the year, with total sales up 8.2% to £31.2 million.
The group said HMV Live, which has built up its portfolio of venues since the financial crisis, enjoyed a good summer festival season with attendances up by more than 20% on a like-for-like basis, while spend per head at its live venues was up 10%.
The group said within retail its technology sales were up 42%, following the store refit programme - however, the benefits of these changes were not seen in the half-year results due to the timing of the refits in the period. HMV said in its core markets - music, visual and games - it lost market share as a result of store closures.