Steve Gallant, product director and board member at leading music merchant HMV U.K. & Ireland, has exited amid ongoing restructuring at the company. His unexpected departure, with immediate effect

Steve Gallant, product director and board member at leading music merchant HMV U.K. & Ireland, has exited amid ongoing restructuring at the company. His unexpected departure, with immediate effect, comes just days after the retailer's parent HMV Group plc issued a gloomy financial report and its CEO Alan Giles announced plans to step down.

Gallant's departure was confirmed today (Jan. 16) in a memo issued by Steve Knott, the London-based company's managing director. Simultaneously, Simon Peck has been elevated to fill Gallant's role as product director for HMV U.K. and Ireland. Peck was operations director at the firm. Knott will oversee that vacant post until a replacement is hired.

Peck's "strong desire to succeed together with his creative and challenging commercial thinking will ensure that we are best placed to improve our business performance going forward," comments Knott in the memo.

Furthermore, human resources director Liam Donnelly will add stripes for business strategy.

"HMV is entering an exciting phase in its development, as our business environment continues to evolve at a rapid pace," adds Knott. "Liam will therefore be working with all the key departments in HMV to review current business plans and to formulate effective long-term strategies as well as ensuring that our plans are articulated and communicated effectively to all parts of the business."

Gallant joined HMV in September 2002 from Universal Music U.K., where he was commercial director. His career includes 13 years as marketing manager and head of buying at Virgin Entertainment Group's U.K. now-defunct retail chain Our Price and four years as category manager for entertainment and paper shops at supermarket chain ASDA (a division of Walmart), before he joined Universal in 1998.

Peck joined HMV in 1991 as a sales assistant at its Bradford store and became divisional manager for West Midlands, Northwest, East Midlands and Lancashire regions of England in April 2001.

Giles announced last Thursday that he would depart as CEO after eight years in the post at the end of the year. News of his departure accompanied the public company's interim trading note, which reported a sharp decline in its first half operating profit.