Belfast store at risk as HMV looks to appoint administrators again
Music retailer HMV, which has one store in Northern Ireland, is at risk of becoming the first high street casualty after Christmas as it teeters on the brink of administration.
The group, which trades from 130 stores and employs 2,200 staff, has filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators amid a cash crisis at the firm.
If HMV was to go bust, it would be the second time it has collapsed in recent years, having filed for administration in 2013, after which it was acquired by its current owner Hilco which concluded with the closure of all HMV stores in the Republic.
It was also set to mark the beginning of Hilco's online streaming venture. At the time, Paul McGowan, the Northern Ireland-born chief executive of Hilco said the service would be launched in early 2017.
It is understood that KPMG is waiting in the wings to undertake the current administration process which could affect Northern Ireland's only HMV store - in Belfast's Donegall Arcade.
The three-storey retail outlet was busy with shoppers yesterday while its fate was deliberated over. It is believed the Belfast outlet has around 20 members of staff.
High business rates, weak consumer confidence and the rise of online streaming services are attributed as the main challenges that have pushed HMV towards administration. The failure of another major high street name before the year is up would cap a miserable 12 months for the retail sector.
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The likes of Poundworld, Toys'R'Us and Maplin have all gone bust this year, while heavyweights Marks & Spencer and Debenhams have announced plans to shut hundreds of stores. Several others, including Superdry, Carpetright and Card Factory, have issued profit warnings.
Traditional retailers have been battling the rise of online shopping, higher costs and low consumer confidence as shoppers rein in spending amid Brexit uncertainty.
HMV's retail history stretches back to 1921, when its first store was opened on Oxford Street in London by Edward Elgar. The launch of the CD and later the DVD fuelled strong growth in the 1980s and 1990s.
KPMG and Hilco, which also owns Homebase and was former owner of Xtra-Vision, declined to comment.