The company reports a 9.5% growth.

A buoyant HMV Group, the U.K. music, books and entertainment retail giant, reported a 9.5% growth in total sales for the 12 weeks ending Sept. 23, compared with the same period in 2005.

The improvement in overall sales growth during the 12 weeks is attributed to the group's acquisition of books retail chain Ottakar's in May.

And those 12 weeks represent a step up compared with the first nine weeks of HMV's financial year (April 30 to July 1), which saw sales decline 6.9% compared with the same period in 2005. However, the figures, unveiled at the company's annual general meeting and reported without actual revenues, showed that like-for-like sales during the same 12 weeks fell 3.7%.

Total sales, excluding Ottakar's but including HMV's other book store Waterstone's, dropped 0.6% during the 12 weeks ending Sept. 23, compared with the 6.9% decline in the previous nine weeks.

The HMV U.K. & Ireland division saw business pick up during the 12 weeks as total sales fell only 1.2% (compared with 12.1% during the first nine weeks of the financial year).

In the first 21 weeks to date (April 30 to Sept. 23) in the financial year, U.K. sales made via the www.hmv.co.uk Web site soared by more than 150%.

That positive figure comes as HMV U.K. launches a revamped digital-music service for its HMV Digital division (www.hmvdigital.com) today (Sept. 28).

"We're encouraged by our recent trading performance despite the difficult market conditions," says Steve Knott, managing director of HMV U.K. & Ireland. "We're making very good progress repositioning our store offer and aggressively developing our plans online and in the digital arena to underline our credentials as a true multi-channel specialist."

The 12-week sales at HMV Asia increased 0.7%, while sales at HMV Asia jumped 7.3% compared with the same period last year.