HMV and Virgin square up in expansion bid

HMV and Virgin Megastores are both stepping up store expansion programmes next year as the battle between the two leading specialist entertainment retailers intensifies.

HMV has already opened eight stores this year and is to open a further 14 before Christmas, adding an extra 9,290 sq m of space to its portfolio.

But HMV chief executive Alan Giles said that he plans to continue the programme next year and will open between 10 and 20 new stores.

He said: 'We have lots of opportunities coming our way and plan to open more stores in out-of-town retail parks, as well as on the high street.'

Virgin has been focusing this year on maximising growth in its existing portfolio and launching new formats, including Megastore Xpress and Gamestore while integrating V.Shop's operations into Virgin Retail.

But Virgin Retail managing director Andy Randall said that the retailer is to return to a more aggressive opening strategy next year, with at least a handful of openings followed by a target of 10 stores a year from 2004.

He said: 'We have been out of the market (for sites) for a while, but will be focused on taking new stores next year.'