U.K. and Ireland retail biz suffers.

British retail chain HMV Group Plc said today (May 4) that it expects to report full-year earnings in line with market expectations despite suffering from a difficult trading climate in its home territory.

For the year to April 23, total sales are expected to rise by 4.7% at constant exchange rates compared with the corresponding period last year. Same-store sales growth for the 52-week period is expected at 1.1%.

"Management is confident that group profits for the full year will be in line with market expectations," the market-leading music retailer said in a statement today (May 4).

However, the London-based firm warned that a strong performance over the five-week Christmas period was followed with "more difficult" trading conditions for the weeks 38-52.

Over the final period, group sales declined by 1.2% at constant rates and 2.2% on a like-for-like basis, due in part to a tough U.K. and Ireland retail sector.

"The U.K. consumer environment has been weak during this period," the company added, noting same-store sales at its U.K. and Ireland business were down 3.8%. Music and DVD continues to perform well there, the company said.

The U.K. & Ireland division recently opened its 200th store in Galway, Ireland. HMV Europe managing director Steve Knott recently told Billboard.biz that the U.K. & Ireland arm opened 25 stores in 2004 and will do the same in 2005.

Over the full-year, HMV U.K. & Ireland is forecast to register total sales growth of 6% on flat like-for-like revenue.

HMV Canada continued to make "excellent progress" to register a 5.2% rise at constant rates, and a 13.5% rise in like-for-like sales. Those results incorporate figures for HMV's U.S. presence, which shuttered its final outlet on Nov. 3, 2004.

HMV Asia Pacific saw total sales rise by 3.2% at constant rates, while like-for-like revenue declined by 1.7%, the company said.

HMV will announce preliminary full-year results on June 28.