Britain's leading music and entertainment retailer HMV will launch an MP3 digital download store later this year as part of a broader company refocus on technology, product and store designs.

From this summer, the retailer's revamped digital music store will be integrated into its existing Web site, hmv.com, to enable physical and digital purchases in one basket.

"We see a real gap in the market for linking physical and digital product," said product director Gary Warren.

Warren and some of his key HMV colleagues discussed the company's strategic plans for re-energising sales during a presentation Friday to key supplier partners, including labels, DVD firms, games publishers and distributors, at the Brewery venue in east London.

And to further confirm HMV's support of music within its ensemble of entertainment product, Warren told guests: "music has been and remains in our DNA."

The iPod-compatible download service will link to HMV's bespoke "social discovery" site getcloser.com, which is currently in beta testing mode.

HMV U.K. E-commerce director Gideon Lask demonstrated the service, achieving some impressed expressions from guests in the room. A soft launch will come this summer, ahead of a full consumer roll out by the end of year.

Lask said the retailer's short-term online ambitions were to lift its game from roughly 10% to generating 15% of all sales from its Internet business, and to close the gap on online retailers Play.com and Amazon within 18 months.

HMV U.K. & Ireland managing director and CEO HMV Group Simon Fox opened proceedings. Other presentations were delivered by product director Gary Warren; marketing director Graham Sim; supply chain director Steve Napleton and operations director Neil Taylor.

Warren also pledged a review of store layout ahead of the Christmas period which would allocate greater front-of-store space for campaigns and promos across its key areas of music, film and games.

He also said the retailer placed great faith in the high-definition Blu-ray format and would introduce Blu-ray screens into retooled stores to help consolidate the retailer's position as market-leader in the emerging format.