HMV to close last remaining store in the north next month

HMV is due to close its Belfast store next month, at a cost of 16 jobs
Gareth McKeown

HMV's sole remaining outlet on the island of Ireland is due to close next month, it has been confirmed.

Store closure signs were put up at the beleaguered music retailer's Belfast site at Donegall Arcade yesterday and it is understood the shutters will officially come down on April 28, unless all stock is sold before that date.

The Belfast outlet employs 16 people, who will all lose their jobs next month when the store ceases trading.

HMV, which employs 2,200 people across the UK, collapsed into administration for the second time in six years in December and last month was bought by Canadian firm, Sunrise Records.

As part of the deal it was announced that 27 UK stores, including the retailer's flagship Oxford Street site would close, but Belfast was not among those listed.

Sunrise said it would keep on 100 stores, saving 1,487 jobs - but the closures would spell redundancy for 455 people, with a further 122 kept on by administrators to wind down warehouse operations.

Speaking at the time Sunrise owner and chief executive, Doug Putman said he saw a future in the high street retail business.

"We are delighted to acquire the most iconic music and entertainment business in the UK and add nearly 1,500 employees to our growing team," he said.

"We know the physical media business is here to stay and we greatly appreciate all the support from the suppliers, landlords, employees and most importantly our customers."

A source at the Belfast store suggested the closure may not be directly linked to the company's new ownership and said it is due to the unit's landlord not re-signing the lease to HMV.

They said it was possible that the company could seek new premises in the city.

Retail NI CEO, Glyn Roberts described the Belfast closure as a loss.

"It is the sad closure of a chapter," he said.

"That store has been there for many years and I think that any retailer that closes in a town or city centre is always a loss, because the traders in that general area are going to get less footfall as a result."

"I suppose HMV's biggest challenge has been online and in many respects they just didn't change and adapt quick enough to survive. Technology has just outpaced this particular retailer, but it's still a sad loss and I hope that we can find an alternative use for that site," Mr Roberts added.

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