Virgin Retail managing director Simon Douglas said: 'We're stunned that HMV has decided to take what appears to be a complete u-turn on its stance towards covermounts.' He said it encourages the perception that music is free, which is damaging to the music industry as a whole.
HMV's decision surprised industry counterparts, because at HMV's results a fortnight ago, chief executive Simon Fox condemned The Mail on Sunday's giveaways as 'absolute madness'.
A spokesman for HMV said: 'Our position has not changed generally, we are still opposed to covermounts. However, on this occasion we feel we'd be denying our customers the opportunity to buy the latest Prince album. Whether we like it or not, The Mail on Sunday will be the only place where our customers can get a copy.'
Douglas said: 'It's not only retailers that suffer; the public will suffer in the long term by restricting choice on the high street. Of course people will take a free CD by a platinum-selling artist like Prince, but you only need to look at what's happened to Fopp going into administration to get an idea of the potential long-term impact.'
The Mail on Sunday revealed the prmotion last week, calling it the 'most sensational CD giveaway of all time'. However, the decision sparked outrage in the music industry.