Former Vodafone executive James Coughlan has been appointed to head up HMV’s new digital business. Retail Week takes a look at the entertainment retailer’s new hire.

After attending artists breeding ground The Brit School during his teenage years, it comes as little surprise that James Coughlan has found his place in the entertainment industry.

The new HMV digital boss has a strong pedigree in the digital media and mobile technology world and is poised to make his mark at the revived entertainment chain.

After a plethora of temping positions in the media across ITN, Universal Pictures and Polydor Records in his early career, he took up the position of new media assistant for Mercury Records – the music label which has boasted Chuck Berry, Robert Plant and Dolly Parton among its roster – in digital and ecommerce.

In 2006 he made the switch to mobile phone giant Vodafone, working on music downloads and subscription product marketing as senior content marketing manager.

During a five year term, he was pivotal in Vodafone’s partnership with pop star Pixie Lott and promoted Vodafone’s Facebook Music tab and its premium live music benefits service. His role covered the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands.

Links with Vodafone were retained after his departure, as Coughlan’s previous employers became clients for the digital agency he founded in early 2011, Noise Inc. He also worked for music consultancy Ecurb Music as a digital marketer on a freelance basis during this time.

In his new role as managing director of digital at HMV he is responsible for “developing and delivering the digital offering within the HMV group”, according to owners Hilco.

The new digital launch is set to take place in October and will mark the end of HMV’s digital blackout, as the entertainment retailer has been without an ecommerce offer since its collapse into administration in January.

With competition with online players including Amazon and iTunes cited as a key reason for HMV’s collapse by industry observers, digital will be vital in the retailer fighting back.

All eyes are on Coughlan to see if he can make use his successful track record to bring a new lease of life to HMV digital.