Waterstone’s and HMV under threat

Waterstone's and HMV, in the Grand Arcade, in busier times at the book launch of Simply Rad - The Kris Radlinski story
Waterstone's and HMV, in the Grand Arcade, in busier times at the book launch of Simply Rad - The Kris Radlinski story

WORKERS at Wigan’s HMV and Waterstone’s stores were today fearing for their jobs after company bosses announced 60 outlets will close this year.

Music retailer HMV Group - which owns Waterstone’s bookshops - has been severely impacted by the snow with the group reporting a 13.6 per cent slump in like-for-like sales in the five weeks to January 1.

The firm now plans to close 60 of its stores in the next 12 months in order to get costs under control.

A spokesman said that areas with a higher concentration of the brand, which includes Greater Manchester, will be affected to allow for jobs and sales to be transfered.

Staff at HMV and Waterstone’s, in the Grand Arcade, are now facing a nervous wait as the company decides which stores will face the axe.

The group currently runs 285 HMV units and 314 of the Waterstone’s book brand, which fared better with sales down just 0.4 per cent over the period compared to last year.

The chain, which has been battling for years with competition from supermarkets and online giants such as Amazon and Play.com, said in a statement that they were now “taking aggressive action as we continue to tightly manage our cost base.”

Simon Fox, chief executive, added: “Whilst HMV has had a challenging year to date, it remains a profitable and cash-generative business and a powerful entertainment brand.”

One of Wigan’s best-loved independent book stores Smith’s of Wigan, in Mesnes Street, was forced to close in August 2009 blaming increasing competition from Grand Arcade retailers such as Waterstone’s and HMV.

Elsewhere on the high street, the clothing chain Next also saw retail sales drop 3.1 per cent between August 1 and December 24.

It said it was hit by the extreme weather conditions and increased competitor discounting on the high street before Christmas.

A spokesman said: “We estimate we lost £22m of full price sales as a result of the snow representing 2.2 per cent of the season’s total sales.”

Online and catalogue shopping thrived with Next Directory sales up 8.7 per cent over the five-month period.