HMV U.K. and Ireland increased sales by 12.8% to £470.7 million ($763.8 million) in the six months to Oct. 25, 2009 compared to the same period a year ago.

The U.K. entertainment retailer was able to take advantage of the demise of rivals Zavvi and Woolworths at the beginning of 2009. HMV took on 32 former Zavvi stores and it has recently launched 10 temporary stores for Christmas.

The like-for-like sales growth over the six months was 1.6% in the U.K. and Ireland.

In a statement, HMV said it had made "strong market share gains in all entertainment categories." HMV said music accounted for 30% of its sales in the U.K. and Ireland, and that it gained a 7.7% market share in a music market down 8% overall.

Total HMV sales increased 10.1% to £572 million ($928.5 million), reflecting more challenging conditions in the retailer's international markets including Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore. HMV International's like-for-like decline in sales over the six months was 11.1%.

Overall, HMV Group (including bookseller Waterstone's) increased sales by 5.6% to £797 million ($1.3 billion); the like-for-like figure showed a decline of 2.1%.

HMV Group's loss after tax narrowed to £17.8 million ($28.9 million), compared to £19.8 million ($32.1 million) a year earlier. Underlying net debt increased by £14.5 million ($23.5 million) to £88.1 million ($143 million), largely because of the investment in a 50% stake in technology company 7digital in order to improve HMV's download offering.

"The exit of competitors from the U.K. entertainment market at the beginning of 2009 has created opportunities to capture sales in markets where these stores formerly overlapped with HMV," said chief executive Simon Fox in a statement. "Sales transfers in these locations have been in line with our expectations, which has continued to lead to significant market share gains, particularly in music and video."

HMV expects artists from "The X Factor" TV talent show such as Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke to do well this Christmas. Fox told Reuters it would be a "very good Christmas for music, led by the whole 'X Factor' effect and Susan Boyle's quite remarkable sales performance."

On Thursday, HMV acquired an 8.2% stake in Mama Group, its live music joint venture partner, and the retailer said it was "considering its position." Mama rejected an improved £38.4 million ($62.3 million) bid from its biggest shareholder, SMS Finance, the day before.