HMV owner Hilco Capital has hired former Vodafone executive James Coughlan to head its new digital business, which is set to launch in October, Retail Week can reveal.
The digital launch will be a significant move for the entertainment retailer, which has been without an ecommerce operation since it collapsed in January.
Coughlan, who helped build up Vodafone’s digital music business, will be responsible for “developing and delivering the digital offering within the HMV group”, Hilco said. The first phase of the digital launch will commence in early October.
In the same month HMV will return to 363 Oxford Street, where it opened its first store more than 90 years ago.
Hilco boss and HMV chairman Paul McGowan declined to give further details of the digital launch, but told Retail Week the retailer was looking at harnessing HMV’s heritage in the Oxford Street store.
McGowan said the plans for the store are “very exciting” but that certain details had to be ironed out. He said the new HMV Oxford Street shop would suit the retailer better at about 20,000 sq ft, compared with its existing 55,000 sq ft shop on the street, which HMV plans to offload to Sports Direct. He added that the “much more appealing” new site would benefit from being located opposite the yet-to-open Crossrail station.
He added that HMV was performing “above plan” since Hilco acquired it out of administration in April.
Coughlan has worked in the entertainment sector for the last eight years. Most recently he has worked as a consultant developing digital entertainment offerings for companies including Samsung, Channel 4, Ministry of Sound and Universal. It is understood he was placed in the role by search firm Ridgeway Partners.
HMV went into administration in January after sales suffered due to rising digital music and film downloads. Hilco acquired the chain after it had bought the retailer’s debt in January. It now operates 140 stores.