independent

Friday 18 April 2014

HMV stores set to re-open with €4m investment and 100 jobs

Recovery specialist Hilco will open several HMV stores within weeks.

Shops on Dublin's Henry Street, at Liffey Valley, Dundrum Centre and in the Crescent Shopping Centre in Limerick will roll up the shutters soon. A fifth outlet is likely to be added over summer and several more are on the target list, including a return to somewhere on Grafton Street.

Recruitment of around 100 staff will start rolling out in the coming week.

It is said that between €3.5m and €4m will be invested in start-up and stock.

"Deals have been done with landlords," Hilco founder and chief executive Paul McGowan confirmed. "It will take around six weeks, some stores have to be refitted, but Henry Street is ready to go."

Other mooted locations include Grafton Street in Dublin, and Cork and Galway city. However, HMV's old flagship store on Grafton Street is currently on the market.

Landlord negotiations were brokered by Declan Stone at Colliers International. "We have agreed terms on five locations and are on the deal acquisition trail with two or three more," he said.

Though best known for its retail turnaround work, including projects undertaken with AWear, Hilco is interested in a cross-section of prospects in Ireland.

"We're actively looking at stuff in the Irish market," said McGowan. Including IBRC assets? "God yeah." Hilco is also looking at "pharmaceutical, engineering and other areas" here, he said.

Hilco recently bought HMV from its administrators in the UK for €60m. It also owns HMV Canada, which is performing strongly.

Hilco's move shows real confidence in a recovery of the Irish economy.

Since the downturn began, the Irish retail sector has been strangled by the double whammy of upward-only rents and desperately fragile consumer confidence.

The arrival of the property tax assessments in letter boxes has knocked spending for six, according to retailers.

Last week, Tesco boss Philip Clarke told investors that its Irish operations had taken a hit because of weaker spending which was blamed on the tax. Last month, Musgrave boss Chris Martin told the Sunday Independent that its business – which includes the Centra and SuperValu chains – had also felt a consumer pull back following the imposition of the tax.

However, CSO figures show a stabilisation of retail sales in April following the March "property tax" plunge. Annually, retail sales have dropped by 0.5 per cent.

Irish Independent

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