Entertainment specialist HMV has banned its staff from displaying garish tattoos and long hair.

The retailer, which is transforming itself from an entertainment-focused retailer into a technology specialist, has told staff that they need to smarten up their image, according to The Sun.

The newspaper reported that management, led by chief executive Trevor Moore who joined the business last month, expect “high standards of personal grooming”. Discreet tattoos or piercings are allowed under the new “appearance policy”.

However, “extreme body art” must be removed or covered up.

One worker told The Sun: “We’ve got new management. It’s ridiculous and discrimination.”

An HMV spokesman said: “Media reports on this have been somewhat sensationalised, and we’re not trying to ban tattoos or anything else for that matter, but if someone does have extensive body art - whether instore or at head office, we would expect them to cover this up whilst working.

“More discreet tattoos and piercings are not an issue so long as people look smart. It goes without saying that we want our work colleagues to feel valued as individuals who can express their personalities, but it’s also important that we balance this against the needs and expectations of our customers, who, ultimately, have to be at the heart of everything we do.

“We’d like to think our colleagues are presentable anyway, so this is just about adopting a more consistent approach, which we believe our customers will appreciate.”