Edinburgh HMV bounces back but others to close

A defiant message from HMV Princes Street after months of troubles. Picture: Joey Kelly
A defiant message from HMV Princes Street after months of troubles. Picture: Joey Kelly
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IT is business as usual at the HMV megastore on Princes Street, despite doubts over the future of the high street giant, after staff mounted a sign telling customers: “We’re here to stay.”

The city centre outlet, whose parent company plunged into administration in January, announced that shelves would soon be restocked with music, film and games because of “the support of [its] valued customers and landlord”.

The news comes three months after the iconic retailer appointed administrator Deloitte to assess its options as it sought a buyer amid falling sales.

However, along the road in Shandwick Place, RS McColl confirmed the closure of its store when the lease expires next month. It is understood prolonged disruption from the tram works was a factor in the decision.

Business experts praised the tenacity of HMV, acknowledging its significance as a commercial draw to the city centre and suggested five years of tram works may have sounded the death knell for some businesses in the West End.

Graham Birse, of Edinburgh Napier’s Business School, said: “If confirmed HMV will stay open, that is good news.

“It’s important to have as much of a focus in city centre retail as possible.

“Without knowing the inside of discussions it’s impossible to comment fully, but if it keeps trading that is good for the city centre.

“The more of a cluster of retailers there is in terms of footfall that can be generated, then the better for all the stores in the area.

“People coming into the city to buy music or entertainment may well be persuaded to go for a coffee or a drink afterwards.

“We really don’t want vacant properties lying empty in a premier shopping destination for very long. That really is not what Edinburgh needs.”

He said of RS McColl’s Shandwick Place closure: “It is a newsagent and people make discretionary purchases such as sweets or a paper.

“If that becomes difficult because of the prolonged nature of tram disruption they you can understand why they might opt to wave the white flag.”

Grant McKeeman, of Copymade in West Maitland Street, who estimates the tram works have cost him up to £2000 a week in lost trade, said tram disruption may have been a “major problem” for the 
newsagents.

“I wouldn’t imagine the Sainsbury’s taking over the former Habitat would have helped much either,” he said.

“Newsagents aren’t traditionally hit as badly by recessions as pubs and restaurants so I’d imagine the trams did have an affect on business.

“I know shops like Sugarcane, who went out of business, suffered from a combination of recession and tram works, but certainly RS McColl was always busy and it’s sad to hear that they are closing.”

ON SONG SINCE 1921

HMV has 239 stores in the UK – including six in the Lothians – which employ 4350 people.

The first HMV store was opened by composer Sir Edward Elgar in 1921 at 363 Oxford Street, London.

The store’s stock included gramophones, radios and popular music hall recordings, but by the 1950s single sales were booming, with 280 million sold during the decade.

The original Oxford Street store was closed in 2000, moving to a bigger space at number 360.