Action plan in place for turnaround
HMV Group will reveal at its AGM today that it has experienced a drop in like-for-like sales over the first quarter, with HMV UK and Ireland, Waterstone's and overseas operations all down on last year's figures.

But the group hopes to stem the tide with a new chief executive, a drive online and its current promotional campaign.

Total sales for the group were up 9.5 per cent for the 12 weeks ending September 23, compared to the same period last year, but this includes sales for Ottakar's, which HMV acquired in July. Excluding the latter, sales declined by 0.6 per cent. Like-for-like sales fell 3.7 per cent.

As of the AGM, Simon Fox will officially succeed Alan Giles as the group's chief executive.

According to the trading statement, comparable sales at HMV UK & Ireland fell 5.4 per cent, but this was an improvement on the drop of 16.7 per cent in like-for-like sales for the first nine weeks of the financial year.

Online fared better, with sales up 150 per cent at compared to the prior year.

HMV UK launched today, which upgrades its existing digital downloading service and where customers can download music and, eventually, video without the need to install any additional software.

Earlier this month, the retailer dropped prices and launched an ad campaign in a bid to drive sales in the run-up to Christmas.

At Waterstone's, like-for-like sales were down by 3.0 per cent, although this too was an improvement on the decline of 6.1 per cent for the first nine weeks of the financial year.

The company said it was 'making excellent progress with the integration of Ottakar's', with more than 70 Ottakar's stores converted to Waterstone's outlets and a goal to complete all conversions by early November.

The bookseller officially launched today, which offers more than 2 million titles online. This follows successful trading since a soft launch earlier this month.

Overseas like-for-like sales were down at HMV Asia and HMV Canada by 1.5 per cent and 1.0 per cent respectively.

'The markets in which the group operates - particularly music - continue to experience very difficult trading conditions. However, I am pleased to report that we are exactly on track with the implementation of the strategic initiatives that we outlined earlier this year,' said HMV Group chairman Carl Symon.