Entertainment retailer HMV made a first half pre-tax loss of £24.9m, compared with £27.5m last year, after a “weak” performance at Waterstone’s.

Group like-for-like sales dipped 2.1% in the 26 weeks to October 24, while total sales climbed 5.6% to £797m.

At HMV UK & Ireland like-for-likes rose 1.6%, with total sales up 12.8%.  HMV said it made “significant market share gains”, particularly in music and video.

At Waterstone’s, like-for-likes declined 5.1%, with total sales dropping 4.3%, with the bookseller’s performance weakening “as the period progressed”.

Chief Executive Simon Fox said: “With a good line-up of products across all categories, our stores and websites are very well prepared for Christmas and we are confident that customers will receive great service and availability however they choose to shop.”

HMV International’s total sales fell 10.6% at constant exchange rates, with like-for-like sales slumping 11.1%, reflecting “challenging trading in Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore, combined with the impact of a weak games release schedule”. The operating loss in the international division increased by £1.8m to £2.6m.

HMV has now converted 32 former Zavvi stores to HMV with sales transfers “in line with expectations”. It has also secured sites for 10 temporary Christmas stores.

Its Orange mobile concessions have been rolled out to 20 stores with “more expected in the second half”.

The Purehmv multi-channel loyalty scheme, launched at the beginning of the period, continues to “exceed expectations”. HMV expects one million cardholders in the first year. It will launch one in HMV Canada next year.

In the period HMV acquired international digital media company 7digital to enhance its digital offer. On Thursday it said it was “considering its position” in regards to a possible bid for its live music joint venture partner Mama Group.

The group said Waterstone’s migration to new distribution facility the Book Hub “has been delivered later and at a greater financial cost than originally planned”, so the initial £5m financial benefit will now be deferred until 2010/11. It added, however, that the shortfall will be “fully offset by further cost savings across the Group, together with the strong performance of the ex-Zavvi stores”