HMV to close its last remaining outlet

The last HMV outlet here, in Marina Square, will close by the end of the month. A notice on its website announced the closure and a "plan to re-open a new store in the near future". It also urged customers to redeem their gift vouchers.

Contacted yesterday, HMV Singapore's general manager Michele Tan confirmed the Sept 30 closure, but said she was not authorised to divulge the new store's location and opening date.

Hong Kong-based private equity firm AID Partners, which bought HMV Singapore in 2013, told The Straits Times yesterday it is still looking for the right location and will announce it once a decision is made. A new concept lifestyle store will open later this year in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong, said a spokesman.

The Straits Times understands that HMV Singapore did not renew its lease in Marina Square at the end of its four-year term. Its outlet on the second floor of the mall opened in 2011.

A spokesman for Marina Centre Holdings said that its tenant had been in discussions with it for a few months and that moving-out terms were confirmed recently.

The music retailer's first store here, at The Heeren, was 25,000 sq ft when it opened in 1997, making it Singapore's biggest music store. It then reduced its floor space twice - once in 2002 and again in 2006 - before finally moving to a 12,500 sq ft space in 313@Somerset.

In 2011, it shut its CityLink outlet and in 2013, its Somerset store closed, too. These closures left the music juggernaut with its last outlet at Marina Square.

Its fate is shared with other music retailers including Tower Records and home-grown retail chain Sembawang Music Centre, which folded in 2006 and 2009, respectively, amid declining CD sales.

Retail experts say that the rise of digital platforms for music and piracy led to the demise.

Said Singapore Polytechnic senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim: "It is so easy to download music online. It isn't expensive and you can pay per song instead of buying an entire album. Piracy is also rampant."

Mainstream CD stores here would find it hard to survive, she said, adding: "They should concentrate on niche music segments like jazz and probably need to sell other products like vintage furniture or open a cafe alongside the store to supplement business."

Mr Steven Goh who runs retail consultancy SG Retail Network is more pessimistic.

"The CD business is very tough and such stores require big spaces. Rentals here are high, the sums just don't add up," he said, adding that there is little room to innovate.

"Stores have tried allowing customers to download music at their stores, but people can just download music at home. I don't think there is any hope."

Business consultant Terence Ho, 28, now buys music online. The last CD he bought was when he was a teenager. "There is so much variety online; and you can buy a song at a time," he said.

Fitness trainer Gina Farr, 31, cannot remember the last time she bought a CD in recent years. She now downloads a song a month. "It's so easy, and who wants CDs cluttering up your house?" she asked.

This article was first published on September 23, 2015.
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