Entertainment group HMV is considering selling its live music business and has posted a first-half loss.
The retailer recorded a loss from continuing operations, before tax and exceptionals, of £36.4m in the 26 weeks to October 29, versus £27.4m in the comparable period last year. Total sales from continuing business fell 17.6% to £364.9m.
Like-for-likes from continuing operations plummeted 11.6% in the first half, an improvement on the comparable figure of 15.5%, and HMV retail like-for-likes were down 13.2% in the seven weeks to December 17.
However the retailer reported that its move into technology products was bearing fruit.
So far 144 shops have been refitted to carry an extended range of digital technology and like-for-like revenues from the category climbed 42% following the overhauls. Like-for-like sales of headphones, speakerdocks and tablets rocketed 147% post-refits.
HMV Live more than doubled operating profit to £3.4m and the business may be sold. The retailer reported: “The board has initiated a strategic review of HMV Live which may lead to its sale, the proceeds of which would strengthen the financial position of the group.
HMV chief executive Simon Fox said: “This has been a challenging start to the year. However, we have taken decisive action to restructure the business and are now seeing the benefits of this, particularly in our technology products business.
“Like all consumer-facing companies we are facing tough trading conditions but we continue to push forwards through this period. We remain well prepared for the key trading days ahead.”
Broker Seymour Pierce welcomed the improved like-for-like performance at HMV, but is concerned at net debt of £163.7m despite the disposals of bookseller Waterstone’s and HMV Canada.