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HMV faces the music after crap Christmas

But CEO insists gadget store facelift is working

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British High Street store HMV will inch away from CD and DVD retail and re-angle itself as a gadget seller, it announced today after another disappointing Christmas performance.

With an 8.1 per cent yearly drop in like-on-like sales for the 2011 Christmas period, HMV is turning to technology to spare it financial doom. The grizzly sales drop was actually an improvement on the week before Christmas when it looked like holiday sales were running down more than 13 per cent on 2010. CEO Simon Fox reported that the firm sold 500,000 pairs of headphones in December and 20,000 tablet computers. Twenty-five per cent of headphones bought in the UK last year were sold by HMV, said PR chief Gennaro Castaldo, adding that the figure included 40 per cent of the vogueish Dr Dre Beats headphones.

Asked how HMV would differentiate itself from the existing players in the tech store space – PC World et al – HMV PR chief Gennaro Castaldo told El Reg that its more centrally located stores and association with music and media would make HMV a different offering: "We have heritage in music, film and games - it makes sense for us to sell content and devices," he said.

The store wouldn't be rebranding, Castaldo said, but the company is in process of redesigning its stores to put tech products at the forefont.

Selling gadgets isn't a guaranteed route to retail success, as Best Buy found out in 2011 when the American budget gadget store was forced to shutter its year-old UK outlets. The market for resellers is cut-throat too, with the end of last year seeing a record number of insolvencies.

Besides re-angling its retail outlets, the firm is looking to sell HMV Live – its venue and events arm – in an attempt to help pay off the company's £160m debt. ®

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