Warc Blog

UK retailers bounce back

8 April 2013
LONDON: HMV and Jessops, two UK retailers faced with closure as sales fell and pressure from online rivals rose, have been saved by a restructuring firm, in what may become a test case for the high-street.

Hilco, which runs the Canadian arm of entertainment and music group HMV, has purchased its 141 UK stores. Last month, it teamed up with entrepreneur and TV personality Peter Jones to rescue Jessops, the photo chain.

The company will end the previous HMV management's decision to sell tablets and other consumer electronics, instead using the space for a larger range of music and videos.

Paul McGowan, chief executive of Hilco, said that landlords and suppliers had been "supportive of our plans to maintain an entertainment retailer on the high street".

Jessops, meanwhile, is aiming to have 40 stores open by the end of April, operating a collect in-store business model.

"I believe there's going to be a real transition in terms of what online means," Jones told the Daily Telegraph. "People don't want to have to worry about home deliveries and not being there to collect items they've ordered."

Both retailers have suffered at the hands of online competition and another bricks-and-mortar retailer is preparing its defence.

Arcadia, the group housing leading clothing retailers such as Top Shop and Burtons, has just appointed a new head of e-commerce who has reportedly been charged with the task of "killing ASOS", the highly successful online-only fashion retailer.

All three face the issue of how best to strike a balance between their high street foundations and new online channels.

It is an area in which UK businesses have struggled. A survey last year from Brand Perfect, the technology consultancy, and Opinion Matters, the insights provider, asked if any high-street retailer offered the best shopping experience across mobile, tablet and desktop channels.

A 61.5% majority of those polled selected the "none" option when presented with a list of the country's top bricks and mortar players, suggesting they are losing out to online pure-plays.

"The modern customer now expects more from retailers than just a positive experience in store," the study argued.

"Brands must replicate their values and services digitally in order to meet these expectations and stave off the threat from their fellow high street competitors and online specialists."

Data sourced from Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff

 
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