Canada’s venerable music-store chain has been sold to a British restructuring firm for a bargain-basement price, but the sale will be followed by a massive reinvestment that will push the business further away from CDs and DVDs.
A $ 3.2 million price tag seems low for a retail chain, even for a chain that sells CDs (CDs?!) in Steve Jobs’ universe. But, the Twitter riot that followed yesterdays announcement of British restructuring firm Hilco UK buying the Canadian arm of HMV (“That’s it?”; “A house in Vancouver is worth more”) didn’t account for the fact that Hilco plans to invest $25 million into the company to “evolve the business” and, after closing five stores in a year, the change seems inevitable. The Wall Street Journal reports that, rather than focusing on CDs and DVDs, the company plans to “move into selling a more technological mix of products including e-readers and tablets.”
The chain, with over a hundred neon-pink locations in Canada, is just the latest in a wave of local record-store transitions (if not closures). But while there is very little life left for traditional bricks-and-mortar entertainment-media retail outlets (see: Queen West’s Criminal Records, who announced last week that they were closing, and not renovating their store as planned; or the Blockbuster debacle), there might be more potential for stores that adapt to technology (like HMV will aim to under their new ownership), or who offer something more, like purveyors of in-store performances and used records, Sonic Boom, who announced last week that, while they’re being kicked out of the iconic Bloor and Bathurst location, they’ll re-open with two new locations.