HMV, Canada's once-iconic music retailer, was bought out in February of this year by Canadian business executive Doug Putman, the owner of Sunrise Records. He is now revitalizing the company's whole operation and will be launching a new online HMV store as of November 1. The HMV revamp will also include a surge of vinyl options and even a concert space in their newest 25,000 square foot flagship store, The HMV Vault in Birmingham, which opened today.
The company has seen a surge of interest in the UK since they upped their vinyl collection from 500 records to 5,000 at the average store.
“It’s a great brand, and the customers are very passionate about it,” Putman, 35, told the Toronto Star. “We are putting a lot more focus on vinyl, which is driving traffic.”
The UK-based company, which has existed since 1921, has seen a lot of store closures in the past decade. There have been no HMVs in Canada since 2017, and even in the UK, there are only 114 stores compared to 300 in 2010, says the Star article.
Exclaim! reports that The Vault is Europe's biggest entertainment store, with a stock of 80,000 CDs and 25,000 vinyl records along with the concert stage for performances.
Part of Putman's plan to breathe new life into HMV is to give customers an experience that they can't get through online shopping.
“We hire people in communities and work with charities and we pay our tax. We do care. Amazon gives huge convenience but every time you get something amazing you are sacrificing something for that,” he told The Guardian.
“The world’s a scary place if there is just Amazon and ultimately we are all starting to realize that.”
His plan seems to be working so far. The Vault was rammed today for the Liam Payne concert.
"I'm really surprised how supportive customers and the public have been and how much people care and want us to succeed. This is just the beginning; people will see more change coming in the next three to six months," he said in the same interview with The Guardian.
Could this mean that HMV will be returning to Canada someday? We can only speculate so far, but Putman has said it is "definitely possible." It looks like they are focusing their efforts on rebuilding in the UK first. Today's opening of The Vault looked successful, and it looks like Putman is not afraid to bargain on a little innovation.
“We have more vinyl titles in stock in this store than sold in the whole of last year in the UK,” said Putman. “We need this to be a destination.”
We will be keeping an eye out for more on how they fare in the future.