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Ailing HMV sees tech sales' bright spot among dire music biz

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Struggling music retailer HMV has reported that its technology sales jumped 42 per cent, after it refitted more than half of its stores to focus on punting fondleslabs.

The company, which owns 252 shops throughout the UK, is slowly morphing its stores into retail outfits that also sell tech gear in an effort to survive on the bloodied High Street.

It said it had refitted 144 stores to offer customers a range of portable digital products, including tablet computers.

"Like-for-like sales in those outlets had grown 42 per cent since respective store refit dates," HMV said. "Like-for-like sales growth across headphones, speakerdocks, and tablets has been 147 per cent since refits," it added.

However, the company admitted it will have to sell its Live division. That wing of the business runs 13 venues and several music festivals including Lovebox and Global Gathering.

HMV reported a dire pre-tax loss of £45.7m in the first six months of its financial year, which ended on 29 October. For the same period in 2010, the firm vanished £27.4m from its fiscal statement.

It added that in the seven weeks leading up to Christmas - as of 17 December - HMV's like-for-like retail sales dropped 13.2 per cent.

“This has been a challenging start to the year. However, we have taken decisive action to restructure the business and are now seeing the benefits of this, particularly in our technology products business," said HMV boss Simon Fox.

"Like all consumer-facing companies we are facing tough trading conditions but we continue to push forwards through this period. We remain well prepared for the key trading days ahead.”

The company said total sales from continuing operations for the first half of the year fell 17.6 per cent to £364.9m compared with £442.7m for the same period a year earlier.

Shares in HMV are currently trading down 8 per cent on the London Stock Exchange following the company's latest financial results report. ®

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