Entertainment group HMV has parted company with Gerry Johnson, managing director of its Waterstone’s books chain which suffered poor Christmas sales.

HMV posted a 1.2% fall in group like-for-likes in the five weeks to January 2, when total sales climbed 6.7%. Although the eponymous UK and Ireland music chain generated comparable store growth of 2.2%, Waterstone’s like-for-likes plunged 8.5%.

Dominic Myers, formerly HMV’s group development director, succeeds Johnson in charge in Waterstone’s. HMV chief executive Simon Fox said: “He [Myers]has played an important role in the strategy to transform the group over the last there years and I am confident that his deep knowledge of the book industry will be crucial to improving the performance of Waterstone’s.

Fox reported record trading for the third successive year at HMV UK, “driven by the excellent performance of ex-Zavvi and temporary Christmas stores”.

Sales at HMV international fell 3.7% like-for-like but are on an improving trend.

Fox said: “We remain confident in the outlook for the group for the current financial year.

“Whilst the recent performance of Waterstone’s has not been satisfactory, it remains an excellent business and brand, with a great opportunity as the only remaining specialist bookseller on the high street.

“I am therefore confident that the changes we are making will enable us to transform its performance.”
* HMV is in talks with Luminar over a partnership deal that may ultimately lead to a takeover of the nightclub operator, according to The Times.