HMV boss Simon Fox quits troubled company

HMV has debts of £168m and in May agreed to extend its £220m debt facility
  • @Thompj

Simon Fox resigned as chief executive of ailing HMV yesterday, less than three months after he denied suggestions that he was about to quit.

HMV said he will leave at the beginning of next month, as soon as his replacement, Trevor Moore, the former chief executive of the camera chain Jessops, arrives.

Mr Fox joined HMV six years ago when its shares were above 160p. Yesterday they closed at just 3.4p, valuing the company at £14m.

During his tenure, the CD, DVD and games-retailing business has been torn apart, with online retailers and supermarkets discounting titles.

Mr Fox has overseen the sales of the book chain Waterstone's for £53m and the Hammersmith Apollo – cornerstone of its live music business – for £32m.

Despite such moves, HMV's profits plunged from £80m the year before Mr Fox arrived to an expected loss of £10m for the year which ended in April.

It has debts of £168m, and in May agreed to extend its £220m debt facility with its banks to September 2014.

Mr Moore has run Jessops for the last three years, since it was rescued from administration by its bank, HSBC, through a debt-for-equity swap.

He is widely credited for turning the business around, improving relationships with suppliers, such as Nikon and Canon, and introducing store designs ahead of the times.

As he has done at Jessops, HMV hopes Mr Moore will also be able to implement a clear vision and strategy for the retailer, in terms of how to make it relevant to consumers in an increasingly digital age.

Mr Fox is entitled to a pay-off of up a year's basic salary of £499,000, but will forgo some of this if he finds another job. He will not be paid any sort of bonus, and all the share options and long-term incentive plans he has are well under water and worthless.

Analysts believe HMV could show a return to the black in the current year with profits of around £10m.

Mr Moore said: "HMV is a great company and a fantastic brand and I look forward to building on its position as the UK's leading entertainment retailer."

HMV's chairman, Philip Rowley, said Mr Fox has "led the company through a turbulent period for the entertainment retailing industry and has played an invaluable part in securing HMV's future, not least by strengthening relations with suppliers".