HMV hit by double departure

Troubled music chain's finance director to quit just days after chief executive announces exit

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The Independent Online

The finance director of HMV is poised to leave the troubled entertainment retailer just days after its chief executive Simon Fox quit.

Ahead of the group posting an annual loss, David Wolffe, who joined HMV from ITV Studios in January 2011, is heading for the exit.

The executive search firm Russell Reynolds is understood to have been hunting for Mr Wolffe's replacement and an announcement is expected shortly, according to several City sources.

The troubled retailer said last Thursday that Mr Fox was departing after a rollercoaster six years that saw the share price collapse from 160p to 3.4p, giving HMV a market capitalisation of just £14.3m. Trevor Moore, the former chief executive of the camera chain Jessops, will lead the retailer from next month.

The closely-timed departure of HMV's two most senior executives will raise eyebrows in the industry, although City analysts are not expecting any surprises in the group's results on Wednesday. It is set to unveil a full-year loss of about £16m for the year to the end of April, following torrid trading at its 250 stores.

Sales of CDs, DVDs and games have been battered by cut-throat competition from the big supermarkets and the online giant Amazon, and HMV's debts have spiralled to £168m.

Parlous finances forced it to put its live music business up for sale last year and it recently sold its landmark Hammersmith Apollo venue for £32m. This followed the sale of the book chain Waterstone's for £53m in 2011. The fact that HMV is now a much smaller business may have influenced Mr Wolffe's decision to step down, although the double departure was not expected, said banking sources.

Mr Fox said last week his "legacy will be that we survived".

In May, HMV agreed to extend its £220m debt facility with its banks to September 2014. Despite its financial woes, City analysts believe it could show a return to the black this financial year with profits of around £10m. This is partly due to scooping up computer games sales, following the woes of the market leader Game.

Mr Moore left Jessops in July after three years at the embattled chain, which was rescued from administration by its bank, HSBC, through a debt-for-equity swap. He is credited for partly turning the business around by improving relationships with suppliers, such as Nikon and Canon, and implementing a clear vision.

HMV hopes Mr Moore will bring a fresh pair of eyes to its strategy to make it more relevant to consumers.

HMV and Russell Reynolds declined to comment.