HMV anticipates a good Christmas despite like-for-likes at its eponymous entertainment chain plunging 14.9% in the first quarter.
Group chief executive Simon Fox described the performance as disappointing and blamed the “significant impact” of the World Cup, which meant that there were few big releases from suppliers.
“It was tough,” he said. “Nonetheless we are very positive about the key trading period ahead.”
He highlighted a “great release line-up” for Christmas, including Take That’s new album, X-Factor releases and the Toy Story 3 DVD.
Group like-for-likes decreased 10.6% in the quarter but there was an improved performance at book chain Waterstone’s, where the like-for-like decline improved to 2.6% in the 19 weeks to September 4.
Fox said giving buying power back to stores “has had a good impact on sales and market share”.
He denied HMV was considering hiving off the book chain, as has been alleged in newspaper reports.
“Everything we’re doing is about bringing the two brands closer together,” said Fox, citing two further combined HMV and Waterstone’s stores as an example, in Basildon and Edinburgh. The first opened this year on Silverlink retail park in Byker, near Newcastle.
At HMV’s live venues division, like-for-likes increased 8%. However, its festival business underperformed, following the failure of its High Voltage classic rock event to draw fans.
Fox said this week was “key” for games, having brought the release of Halo: Reach on Tuesday and PlayStation Move today.
Investec analyst David Jeary said the HMV figures were “worse than feared” and “clearly indicates the scale of the fundamental challenges facing HMV”.