Harrogate HMV latest: Talks to 'save it'

The "store closing" signs may be up at Harrogate's HMV but there may still be hope for customers and shell-shocked staff at the store.
The "store closing" signs may be up at Harrogate's HMV but there may still be hope for customers and shell-shocked staff at the store.

The "store closing" signs may be up at Harrogate's HMV but there may still be hope for customers and shell-shocked staff at the store.

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Although the date for its closing is this Saturday and devastated staff at the music and film store at Victoria Shopping Centre are remaining tight-lipped in on the whole subject, the Harrogate Advertiser understands that the issue of rents is at the heart of the problem.

James White, the general manager of Harrogate's key shopping centre, said talks were still ongoing on HMV's future in the town, even at this late stage.

In fact, talks are on-going.

Mr White said: “We are in advanced discussions with HMV about the future of the store at Victoria Shopping Centre.

“We’re continuing to work hard to ensure that we have the best possible retail mix for the people of Harrogate."

When troubled retail giant HMV was first taken over by Canadian music group Sunrise Records, Harrogate was not on the list of 27 stores facing closure in it 100-plus high street stores across the UK.

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Although sales of both physical CDs and DVDs in the UK are falling in the face of streaming and online sales from the likes of Amazon, the income for HMV and the music and film industries is still substantial.

Harrogate HMV has a healthy and loyal set of customers, many of whom looked as upset as staff members when the Harrogate Advertiser paid a visit to the store.

The national HMV chain's new owners are on the record as securing cheaper rents a major factor in the company's survival strategy.

But Victoria Shopping Centre is facing challenges itself as it fights to sustain footfall in a tough market for retail as customers are lured away by the internet.

The closure of HMV would be a major blow not only to customers but to Victoria Shopping Centre itself which received a boost in December when clothes giant Next moved into a sizable chunk of the ground floor.

But, despite several properties lying empty for several months, the centre's general manager is convinced Victoria Shopping Centre has a good future.

Mr White said: "As a centre, we have enjoyed a period of growth, as shown by the opening of stores including Next and Poundland.”