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HMV reinvention points the way forward for bricks and mortar retail

HMV’s reinvention under new ownership shows that traditional “bricks and mortar” stores have a bright – albeit different – future on the UK high street, according to our leading retail lawyer, Amanda French.

HMV reopened its flagship 10,500 sq ft store on London’s Oxford Street last month, after a four-year absence, on the site of its original shop which opened in 1921.

The business has undergone a turnaround under new owner Doug Putnam, who bought HMV out of administration in 2019, with a combination of products designed to appeal to different age groups and demographics.

There is a new focus on Asian pop culture products along with traditional CDs and vinyl, a performance space and music venue, plus DVDs and books.

The new concept has been rolled out to around 40 other HMV stores around the country so far, with plans to open around 20 stores a year in the coming years.

In another boost to the high street, beauty brand Avon recently announced it will open a small number of physical stores for the first time in its 137-year history, while online retailers Amazon and Gymshark are also opening physical stores.

Amanda, head of our retail team, specialises in portfolio management and store development programmes for multi-national retail businesses. She says HMV and Avon are examples of successful “omni-channel” consumer brands that have adapted to the new era of retail.

“HMV, and those in the music and film industry, have seen more disruption to their business model and sales channels than any other retailers, and its core product offering was obliterated by online streaming of music and content.

“However, in this remarkable recovery it has identified what the ‘new’ product is and manoeuvred the business into that space – pop culture products. This is enabling it to reach a new customer base.

“Again ‘bricks and mortar’ has been identified as the space that can be used to interact with its community, giving a space for customers to meet and enjoy the experience. What is clever is that the ‘re-invention’ is not at the expense of the original HMV community, who will once again experience in-store staff offering a more personal service.

“The new stores will still house the much-loved vinyl and CDs allowing this space to serve all of its communities. Opening 20 new stores a year is a bold move, but with 40 existing stores they have a strong base to become instantly accessible to their customers.

“It is so exciting to see new entrants into the high street, and even more so when it is a well-established and loved brand like HMV. And with the likes of Avon, Amazon, Maniere de Voire and Gymshark moving to bricks and mortar, it really is exciting times for retail generally.”

Clarke Willmott works with retail and leisure businesses across the whole supply chain, helping businesses navigate the changing landscape, make changes and additions to property portfolios and negotiate leases as well as other non-property related matters. Our team has experience working with fast food and casual restaurant clients and fashion and sports retailers.

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Amanda French

Partner

Bristol
Amanda specialises in portfolio management and store development programmes for multi-national retail businesses. She is also experienced in managing investment portfolios.
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