David Prosser: It's time for HMV's boss to prove he really has the X-factor


Outlook A few weeks ago, Simon Fox, the chief executive of HMV, used a speech to a conference hosted by Retail Week magazine as an opportunity to rebut the arguments of those who believe his company is not long for this world. "In five years' time, we will still have hundreds of stores on the high street," he said.

One might say good for him – after all, if HMV's boss cannot manage to stay positive in the face of such unremittingly bad news for the retailer, what hope is there for the company? But there is an alternative response to Mr Fox's bold promise: like so much else HMV's boss has had to say in recent months, the impressiongiven is that he is reading a different script than everyone else.

In January, for example, Mr Fox warned that HMV's profits would be lower than previously expected. Unfortunately, he has since had to revise that, lowering the forecast on two subsequent occasions, including yesterday. HMV's chief executive has also insisted that its Waterstone's subsidiary is not for sale – the company has since conceded that options for its disposal are now being considered.

In short, Mr Fox appears to have lost his grip on a crisis at HMV that has been spiralling out of control for several months. And the options for fighting back are dwindling by the day. For example, the opportunity to roll together HMV and Waterstone's in single-store formats, an idea which has had some success in a handful of outlets, will disappear if the latter has to be sold. A successful rights issue now looks very difficult to mount, given the lack of confidence shown by investors.

Mr Fox's vision is one of an HMV selling a different range of products to today's offering – more technology, presumably, and less of the music and film that onlinecompetitors can offer more cheaply and efficiently. However, anyone who has visited an HMV store of late – getting to the till involves fighting your way through piles of discounted tat – will know that this vision remains miles from being realised.

Can HMV's boss get shareholders to the promised land? The company's remuneration committee certainly appears to think so – it granted him a whacking pay rise last year. Since then, he has done little to justify the confidence shown in him.

Let's not be unfair. HMV is trading in a market where consumers' disposable incomes are now falling for the first time in 30 years. It also faces challenges beyond its control from the unstoppable rise of internet retailers.

All the same, if Mr Fox wants to persuade his critics – and, even more importantly, his lenders – that HMV really will still have such a significant high street presence in 2016, he's going to have to start giving some more convincing explanations for why he feels so confident.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special
tvNick Frost, Natalie Gumede and Michael Troughton step up
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Beard, Ben Schnetzer, Douglas Booth and Jack Farthing in ‘The Riot Club’
filmReview: Sheer nastiness of Riot Club takes you aback
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week