HMV to sell live music division?

HMV has said that it may be forced to sell its live music division, following another drop in sales, BBC News has reported.

Like-for-like sales were down 11.6% in the 26 weeks to October versus a year ago, the music and electronics retailer revealed.

Taking into account the cost of store closures, HMV made a pre-tax loss of £45.7m, with the company’s stock falling by almost 90% since December last year.

HMV reported net debt of £163.7m, up from £151.6 in the same period last year. "The economic environment and trading circumstances create material uncertainties, which may cast significant doubt on the Group’s ability to continue as a going concern in future," the statement warned.

However, the firm stated that it was making progress with regards to restructuring the group, saying that, in order to strengthen its finances, its live music division HMV Live would be subject to a strategic review, which could potentially lead to a sale.

The live music division made a £3.4m profit in the 26 weeks to October, up from £1.5m during the same period last year.
HMV is also attempting to refocus its business by increasing its number of technology products, such as MP3 players, headphones and tablet computers, as well as live music and event ticketing. The company recently reported life-for-like technology sales in recently refitted stores were up 42 per cent since the refits. Furthermore, it said that it expected the impact of the store refits to be shown in the next set of results, as work to convert stores took place towards the end of 2011.

The retailer also confirmed the closure of 15 stores across the UK in an attempt to reduce costs, reporting that like-for-like sales in the seven weeks to December 17th had fallen down 13.2%. However it said that this excluded a large rise in sales on the weekend of December 17th.

“Like all consumer-facing companies we are facing tough trading conditions, but we continue to push forwards through this period," said chief executive, Simon Fox. "We remain well prepared for the key trading days ahead."

In June, the firm agreed a £220m refinancing deal with its banks and sold the Waterstone’s book chain and its Canadian arm.