HMV Group today published a healthy report card. The British-based retail giant confirmed a period of double-digit growth to close its financial year, while boasting its revitalizing program was ahead of schedule.

In a pre-close trading update, HMV said group sales rose 11.9% in the 16 weeks ending April 26, to complete its financial year. Like-for-like growth during the period was 10.1%.

HMV's U.K. and Ireland company was the engine-room for its performance, delivering 18.4% sales growth, and 13.8% like-for-like sales growth during the period. The firm's scaled-down international operations generated figures of 5.3% sales growth, and 2.2% like-for-like growth.

Gross margins during the final period were "well managed" and "in line" with previous guidance, the company reported, while feedback from its "Next Generation" stores had proved positive ahead of a broader rollout.

HMV has trialled various interactive "Next Generation" stores in the U.K. as part of a company-wide review instigated in March 2007 by group CEO Simon Fox.

As part of that strategy, HMV identified a three-point area of focus across its U.K. business, comprising a mantra of cost savings, protecting its core business, and growing new channels.

Twelve months have passed, and Fox is pleased with the results. "As we complete the first full year of our three-year turnaround plan, we are ahead of where we expected to be," he says in a statement issued today.

"We have made good progress driving forward our strategic initiatives to increase efficiency, revitalize our core business and establish new channels to market."

The market-leading U.K. music and entertainment retailer last month gave its key supply partners a snapshot of its future plans, which include store redesigns, the launch of an MP3 digital download store in the U.K., and a radical "social discovery" site, getcloser.com.

"We still have much to do," Fox added, "but I am confident that the group is well positioned for the next phase of our transformation."

The company will report its preliminary full-year results on July 1. HMV says its management is confident profits before tax and exceptional costs will be towards the upper end of market expectations, which are expected in the range of £46 million ($89 million) to £58 million ($113 million).

The next HMV trading update will be Sept. 5, the date of its annual general meeting.

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