HMV is set to make a return to Oxford Street after a four-year absence, with a lease signed to confirm the reopening of its flagship later this year.
HMV currently has 120 shops across the UK, including a West London location in Westfield, the specialist Fopp store in Covent Garden, and the 25,000 sq ft Vault in Birmingham – Europe’s largest entertainment store.
Sunrise Records owner Doug Putman acquired the historic music chain in 2019. Since the closure of the 363 Oxford Street store in the same year, the presence of a flagship in the capital has been on the agenda.
Under Putman’s tenure, the business has evolved its concept to centre on a fan and community-orientated offer, including in-store gigs from local acts. It has successfully tapped into consumer demand for vinyl.
363 Oxford Street will feature HMV’s new logo, and be fitted out with the new ‘HMV shop’ concept. The first store featuring the new layout and offering opened in Solihull on HMV’s 100th birthday in July 2021.
The concept will have been taken to 24 new sites – and retro-fitted to 14 of the existing estate – by the end of the year. By 2024, half of the HMV estate will have been converted to the new concept.
Doug Putman said: “The expansion of our fan-focused pop culture offer is really working for us and the reopening of our flagship represents the culmination of a good few years of hard work. We are also opening stores in Europe this year, so while it is the culmination of one phase of work, more excitingly we see it as the launchpad for an exciting new era for HMV.”
The new 363 Oxford Street store is expected to stock a large range of pop culture merchandise, vinyl, film, TV and music technology.
In the past year, HMV shops in the UK have welcomed artists such as Charli XCX, Stormzy, Shania Twain, Raye and Ellie Goulding for signings. The central London shop is expected to draw big names and is set to stage performances from up-and-coming acts through the HMV Live&Local programme.
363 Oxford Street played host to the very first HMV store in 1921. It became one of the UK’s most famous retail destinations. In 1995, Blur performed a memorable rooftop gig. A year later, the store hosted the Spice Girls’ Christmas Lights switch-on.
It remained there until 2000 when HMV relocated to its 150 Oxford Street store (since closed). HMV later returned to 363 Oxford Street in 2013. Since its closure in 2019, the site has been operated as an American-style candy store.
ERA CEO Kim Bayley said: “This announcement is a cause for celebration across the UK music industry. HMV is one of the talismanic names of the UK High Street and a standard-bearer for the UK’s continued love for physical music, video and games product. Owner Doug Putman and UK MD Phil Halliday have done an incredible job in restoring HMV to profitability, and we offer them our sincere congratulations.”
Cllr Geoff Barraclough, Westminster City Council’s cabinet member for planning & economic development, said: “It’s fantastic to see this iconic brand back on Oxford Street, where it stood as a driver of music and pop culture in the capital for so long. It’s also particularly pleasing it is replacing one of the many US candy stores which sprang up during the pandemic.
“The return of this famous name is proof that there’s a buzz back in the West End. Established retailers want a presence on the UK’s premier shopping street and as a council we want to see the nation’s high street reinvigorated and home to brands like HMV.
“There’s nothing quite like browsing through CDs and vinyl in-store. As a teenager who bought his first LP in an HMV shop some decades ago, I look forward to reliving that experience!”
Sam Foyle, co-head of prime global retail at Savills, acting on behalf of the private landlord for 363 Oxford Street, said: “The return of HMV is a major milestone for Oxford Street. It shows the growth in belief and confidence for the street. The previous vacancy and short term candy store tenant, was the focus of the challenges facing Oxford Street. HMV reopening along with many other global transactions in progress, demonstrates that Oxford Street has recovered.”