New boss of HMV talks to Retail Week
Today it was revealed that former Kesa chief operating officer Simon Fox is to take the helm of troubled music and books retailer HMV, replacing Alan Giles as group chief executive in September.

Fox faces a testing time when he takes on the role this autumn. Earlier this month, HMV revealed a drop in pre-tax profits of 21 per cent to£98.2 million, as it struggled to compete with e-tailers and supermarkets on price and convenience.

Coming from overseeing e-development at Kesa, Fox is acutely aware of the challenges ahead. 'The competition is changing - for example, with the way people want to shop online and in the supermarkets,' he says. 'We need to respond quickly and proactively to the changing needs of the customers. There has been recognition by the management [of HMV] that they have been somewhat slow in moving online, but they are working to rectify that now. '

He sees parallels between the problems he faced at Comet as he took the brand to market leadership in e-commerce. 'Electricals retailers have also faced similar challenges with emergence of online retailers and increased competition from the supermarkets,' says Fox. 'Both are price-competitive environments, where both range authority and staff expertise count for a lot.'

He adds: 'The online market is a real opportunity for both. And both start with the advantage of great brands and customer loyalty.'

If Fox already has a turnaround strategy in mind, he is keeping it under wraps. 'It's much too early to talk about strategy and operational changes,' he says. 'I haven't started yet. My first priority will be to get to know the business - spending time in stores and getting to know suppliers.'

Despite the obvious challenges, Fox remains upbeat about his move and the prospects for HMV. 'Both brands [HMV and Waterstone's] are market leaders in their fields, deep specialists with highly knowledgeable staff, attractive merchandising in stores and well-respected brands - a firm base on which to build.'