HMV Sold to Canada's Sunrise Records, Sparing Most Stores From Closure

HMV store
Niklas Halle'n/AFP/Getty Images

A picture shows the signage on the front of a HMV store in central London on Dec. 28, 2018.

Canadian music retailer Sunrise Records will buy HMV, stepping in at the eleventh hour to save the iconic U.K. music chain.

Sunrise president Doug Putman, who bought and converted HMV Canada locations in 2017, told BBC Radio 4, "I feel really lucky to be able to say we [will] continue to call it HMV."

Sunrise will buy 100 stores out of administration, securing 1,487 jobs. Twenty-seven will close, resulting in 455 layoffs.

Putman added, "It is very clear that the customer wants more selection on vinyl, more depth of catalogue." It is the same approach he took when he expanded his 10-store Sunrise chain to 80 locations after taking over HMV Canada's leases in 2017.

"There's in no doubt that online is a big part of overall retail sales. But people like to come into a store, have an experience, talk with someone who understands music, loves music, loves video and entertainment. If you think online is the only future I don't think that is the case."

HMV went into administration over the Christmas holidays. Bids for the beleaguered company closed Jan. 16. Stores had remained open but were low on inventory. KPMG is the administrator.

Sunrise Records began in 1977 as a single store on Toronto's famed Yonge Street which brothers Malcolm and Roy Perlman bought from the Handleman Co. in 1978.

Putman purchased Sunrise Records in 2014 when the retail chain was down to just five stores. He then doubled the number of locations in the province, but with the purchase of HMV added another 70 new retail stores across Canada.

HMV Canada closed all 102 stores by April 30, 2017 and Sunrise seamlessly started opening its newly acquired locations.

Prior to Sunrise throwing its hat in the ring, U.K. trade Music Week reported that the other leading bidders were High Street sporting goods entrepreneur Mike Ashley and a management buyout led by HMV MD Neil Taylor.

According to Music Week "a preferred bidder was set to be determined earlier this week, though the deal couldn't cross the line. The physical entertainment retail sector had been primed for an announcement when KPMG's rolling weekly arrangement with suppliers was up on Tuesday (January 29), but the administrator later secured another seven days to give the bidders another chance."

Billboard reached out to Putman through Sunrise and his family's other company Everest Toys for comment but he has not yet responded.