Xtra-vision eyes UK with its vending machines
The Xtra-vision brand is to enter Britain for the first time as DVD vending machines bearing the name are rolled out there next year.
Xtra-vision has experienced a renaissance since it was acquired by UK restructuring specialist Hilco last year for just under €5m.
Hilco also owns HMV in Ireland and the UK, having bought it early last year. There are now 91 Xtra-vision stores, with 51 of those dual-branded with HMV. There are currently 10 standalone HMV outlets.
Figures seen by the Irish Independent for the company behind both Xtra-vision and HMV in Ireland show it made a €3.1m operating profit in the seven months to the end of December 2013, as revenue in the period hit €50m. At the end of last year, there were 95 Xtra-vision stores, 32 of which were dual-branded.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, the chief executive of Hilco Capital, Paul McGowan, said combined revenue this year at the Xtra-vision and HMV chains in Ireland is set to reach €90m. Between them, the businesses employ about 1,100 people.
He said the chains are performing strongly, boding well for a good performance over Christmas and into the New Year.
Mr McGowan also confirmed that the Xtra-vision brand will be used on vending machines rolled out in the UK next year.
The chain has already installed 20 vending machines in Centra stores here after inking a deal with Cork-based Musgrave, which controls the convenience store business. Xtra-vision is now poised to roll out another 80 in Centra stores in Ireland, with scope for 200 and maybe more, according to Mr McGowan.
He said the vending machines had performed beyond expectations, being installed in areas where there is no video rental outlet.
He said the potential footprint of Xtra-vision vending machines in the UK is enormous.
The initial trial there will start in February and include 20 machines. He said Hilco is in talks with a number of retailers about the plan. Musgrave also controls the Budgens and Londis chains in the UK.
Mr McGowan said that the latest dual-branded Xtra-vision/HMV store is due to open in Castlebar, Co Mayo, this month.
Two other standalone HMV stores are planned, one of them in Cork. But Mr McGowan said Hilco is still waiting to find suitable sites for those two new outlets.
Hilco, which also owns HMV in Canada, has so far invested over €10m in the Xtra-vision and HMV businesses here.
Xtra-vision was previously owned by investors including businessman Nick Furlong's Pageant Holdings.
It collapsed under the weight of onerous leases and the impact of video piracy, which hit its rentals and sales. It had successfully exited examinership in 2011, but entered receivership in 2013, when Hilco stepped in to buy it.
Hilco postponed a planned launch of an Xtra-vision video streaming service last year, but Mr McGowan said the provision of that streaming service is still planned by the chain.