HMV's new chief is former Comet boss

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The Independent Online

The former head of Comet, the electricals chain owned by Kesa, is taking on one of the toughest jobs in UK retail and replacing Alan Giles as the new chief executive of HMV.

Simon Fox, 45, resigned from Kesa Electricals, Comet's owner, last week, sparking speculation that he was in pole position to join HMV. He will take up his new post on 4 September, with only the weekend to recover from the eight years he spent at Kesa, which he leaves on 1 September. Mr Giles will leave at HMV's annual meeting on 28 September.

Mr Fox denied he was taking on a poisoned chalice, despite joining a retailer whose pre-tax profits slid 37 per cent last year. The music-to-books chain, which recently acquired Ottakar's, is under pressure from internet retailers and supermarket chains undercutting its prices.

"The business absolutely has to have a multichannel future. It has been a little slow in embracing the multichannel world," Mr Fox said, referring to HMV's delayed entry into the music download market.

He will join on an annual salary of £475,000, more than the £457,000-a-year Mr Giles received. He is not receiving any "golden hello". HMV's board is working on an incentive plan, to be disclosed in its annual report, due out in the next few weeks.

Analysts said there was no quick fix for HMV, which turned down a 210p-per-share approach from Permira this year. Its shares rose 4.75p to 163.5p yesterday.

Christian Koefoed-Nielsen, at Panmure Gordon, said: "I don't think he'll bring a magic bullet. He's a good operator with a fairly wide range of retail experience from a tough sub-sector but it would be a mistake to expect one man to turn everything around."

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