The Business On... Simon Fox, Chief executive, HMV
Thursday 30 December 2010
Did he have a happy Christmas?
Let's hope so. HMV has yet to say how it traded during the festive period, but it badly needed some decent numbers – a tough year was capped earlier this month by the unveiling of record losses. They prompted warnings the company might not have a long-term future.
Are the rats deserting?
That's the good news – not yet, it would seem. In fact, yesterday, HMV gave its investors a belated Christmas present, revealing it has managed to persuade David Wolffe, a widely regarded executive at ITV Studios, to join it as finance director.
Mr Fox must be pleased?
Indeed, though he will no doubt be reflecting that a year is a long time in business. Only 12 months ago, Mr Fox was himself widely tipped as the next chief executive of ITV. That job went to Adam Crozier in the end, and HMV's boss is now pinching staff from the company he might have ended up running.
His star is waning then?
That's a little harsh. HMV operates in a tough market, competing head-on with the big online retailers and especially Amazon. The cold weather of the past month is exactly what it didn't need – why venture out to HMV to buy CDs, or its Waterstone's subsidiary to buy books, when you can do so from the warm comfort of your own home?
What's his plan?
So far it has been to build up the strength of the HMV brand and to diversify into new product areas. Mr Fox wants shareholders to give him time to work out which ventures will work best.
Does he deserve that time?
His record pre-HMV is impressive. He started out by founding the Office World chain, which he built into a £100m business, and then ran Comet, the electrical goods company, for a period, to general acclaim.
And what's on his iPod?
He says he likes a bit of Keane, but prefers books to music. So it's Waterstone's not HMV if you want to get him a gift.
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