Bran­son pulls out of Vir­gin mu­sic re­tail

Zavvi re­places Vir­gin Me­ga­s­tores on high street

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News -

The Vir­gin Mega­s­tore brand is the latest mar­quee name set to van­ish from the streets in what has been an event­ful year for the mu­sic re­tail sec­tor.

This week’s man­age­ment buy-out means that Vir­gin’s 125 out­lets across Ire­land and Bri­tain will be re­branded as Zavvi stores in the com­ing months, with four new stores also set to open in Ire­land.

The new own­ers, led by cur­rent Vir­gin Mega­s­tore boss Si­mon Douglas, are not plan­ning to rock the boat too much and will con­tinue to sell en­ter­tain­ment prod­ucts of ev­ery stripe. Douglas says he sees Zavvi as “an in­de­pen­dent en­ter­tain­ment spe­cial­ist that puts cus­tomers, prod­uct, ser­vice and per­son­al­ity at the top of the agenda.”

Many other stores had sim­i­lar high hopes, but changes in mu­sic con­sump­tion have scup­pered any such am­bi­tions. The dis­ap­pear­ance of the Tower Records chain in the United States and the Fopp and Mu­sic Zone shops in Bri­tain in the past 12 months, as well as pre­vi­ously re­ported losses at HMV and Golden Discs, are all in­di­ca­tions of chal­leng­ing times for those who sell mu­sic for a liv­ing.

Here at home, the latest shop to close its doors is the hugely-re­spected Mul­li­gan out­let in Gal­way. It joins Black Spot (Lim­er­ick), Syn­thetic (Cork), Car­bon (Dublin) and Selec­tah (Dublin) on the grow­ing list of Ir­ish ca­su­al­ties, with other shops down­siz­ing, cut­ting the size of their mu­sic cat­a­logue and di­ver­si­fy­ing into DVDs and games in or­der to sur­vive.

Bran­son will no doubt har­bour some per­sonal re­grets at see­ing his Vir­gin brand dis­ap­pear from the high street. How­ever, he and his ad­vis­ers are in no doubt that they’re get­ting out of the en­ter­tain­ment re­tail sec­tor in the nick of time, with even Bran­son’s re­ported £100 mil­lion in­vest­ment in the stores over the past few years fail­ing to stop the rot.

The stores con­trib­uted only 5 per cent of the Vir­gin group’s turnover in 2006 and in­curred a pre-tax loss of £82.2 mil­lion in the year to March 2006.

As with his dis­posal of the V2 la­bel, Bran­son knows that busi­ness is no place for sen­ti­ment and was happy to do a deal with man­age­ment.

For the sake of Zavvi’s 2,500 em­ploy­ees, you re­ally hope that Douglas and his team know what they’re do­ing in what are in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult re­tail con­di­tions.

Richard Bran­son waves good­bye to high-street mu­sic re­tail

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