Sunrise Records acquires remaining HMV assets

The Canadian record store chain extends its reach into the U.K. with roughly 100 stores.

Hamilton-based record store chain Sunrise Records has again extended its reach into new markets by acquiring assets from HMV that were otherwise set to close.

As part of a deal struck this week, Sunrise will buy HMV assets from U.K.-based parent company Hilco, which had bought the company in 2013 when it last went into administration in the U.K. Over 100 locations will remain open under Sunrise’s ownership, though 27 locations will close. Hilco had put the company into administration in December, citing a “tsunami” of retail competition.

Hilco is also the company that purchased the HMV Canada subsidiary in 2011, and from which Sunrise acquired the leases for 70 locations that were set to close in 2017.

Sunrise owner Doug Putman said in 2017 that the acquisition was an opportunity to turn Sunrise – then a regional retailer with less than a dozen locations in Ontario – into a national chain that operates over 80 locations across Canada today.

While HMV had attempted to reverse its business fortunes by moving away from music and stocking more pop-culture inspired clothing and general merchandise, Sunrise’s plan over the last two years has been to bring the focus back to physical music, including showing a wider array of genres, stocking more vinyl records and having more offerings from local artists (though it also features some of the broader pop-culture merchandise HMV had made more prominent).

“We are delighted to acquire the most iconic music and entertainment business in the U.K.,” Putnam said in a statement. “We know the physical media business is here to stay, and we greatly appreciate all the support from the suppliers, landlords, employees and most importantly, our customers.”

While the company had converted its Canadian HMV locations into the Sunrise banner, the company will keep its new U.K. locations under the HMV branding (as well as four under the Fopp banner). The HMV brand has operated in the U.K. for nearly 100 years, opening its first location in London in 1921.

Physical media retail has been struggling over the last two decades in the face of new online competition, first as downloaded music and movies became an option and later with the advent of streaming services like Spotify and Netflix. And while Nielsen’s annual analysis of the Canadian music industry showed a 47% increase in on-demand music streaming in 2018, sales of vinyl records were also up 25% compared to 2017.