Friday, 17 June 2016


From 1996: the HMV entertainment retail chain celebrates its 75th anniversary with this nice, full colour hardback corporate history and puff piece.

This looks like the sort of expensive publication that is never intended for mass market sale to the public (there's no cover price or anything vulgar like that). I suspect it was put together for staff (although they are often the last to get the goodies), shareholders, artists, performers, industry contacts and anybody else on the Marketing and PR distribution list who the retailer wanted to impress.

It's actually a really nice potted history of the UK business as well as expansion into numerous overseas markets. I'm not sure if 1996 represented the pinnacle of the chain's success but it can't have been too far from the summit. Despite the dodgy economics of the early 1990s, entertainment retailing must have looked like a cash cow. CDs had fuelled the growth of the previous decade and were now a nice little earner thanks to their ridiculously high margins. Sell through VHS was firmly established (and equally cash generating: £10.99 or more for two episodes of STAR TREK), video games were on the ascendancy and home piracy was largely limited to making a copy of a CD to share with your mates or play in the car. Good times.

Most reasonably appointed high streets or shopping centres could usually expect to house an HMV, often in tandem with one of its rivals on the principal of never allowing your rival to have a local monopoly. The example I cite is suburban Putney High Street (notorious for exceeding a whole year's pollution targets in - basically - a day or two) in South West London. In 2000 it boasted a high street HMV, a Virgin (at one point badged as a V Store) and well appointed entertainment departments in the local Woolworths and WH Smith. And the usual "go on, stuff it in your trolley" temptations from the supermarket. Now there is only the supermarket (and a few DVDs behind the till in Smiths) left.

1 comment:

  1. good times indeed, those were the days.

    and what a sign of the times now ( as the late singer Prince would have said )

    you previously blogged about HMV here, one of your finest posts to date :


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