Dozens more Leicestershire shop workers fear for their futures after HMV goes into administration
Dozens more Leicestershire shop workers have been left fearing for their futures after HMV became the latest casualty of the High Street spending slump.
The 92-year-old entertainment chain, which has 223 branches – including stores in Leicester and Loughborough, went into administration yesterday, putting more than 4,000 UK jobs in jeopardy.
It comes just three days after Leicester camera chain Jessops closed all its 187 stores with the loss of about 1,500 jobs, including 177 in Leicestershire.
Online retailers and larger rivals were blamed for the 78-year-old company's demise.
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Experts now say more High Street chains are at risk of collapse over the coming weeks as they count the cost of poor Christmas trading.
JJB Sports, Game and Waterstones, which have all been hit hard by better-performing competitors and online suppliers, are among those said to be vulnerable.
Yesterday, a female worker at the HMV store in High Street, Leicester, said she and colleagues had been shocked by the firm's sudden collapse.
"Everyone was expecting some sort of announcement at the end of the month," she said.
Meanwhile, shoppers reacted angrily after being told by HMV – which continued to trade yesterday – that gift vouchers were no longer being accepted.
Dawn Westcott, 54, a council employee from Mowmacre Hill, Leicester, said: "I'm really angry. They've had money for the vouchers, why don't they let us use them?"
HMV bosses defended the move, and denied claims the company had mis-sold vouchers. It followed claims from customers that the company must have had an idea it was going to call in administrators when it sold the vouchers.
There were reports last night that private equity investors were interested in buying HMV and re-launching it on a smaller scale, meaning many of the 223 stores would close.
However, experts believe the company needs to offer a different shopping experience to online and supermarket rivals.
Professor Jim Saker, retail lecturer at Loughborough University, said: "HMV became a showroom for Amazon and iTunes – the only value the shops added were that you could go in and look at the CD or DVD case. Whatever kind of retail business you are running, there has to be more of a reason for people to go in and buy something."
Concern over HMV's ability to survive beyond Christmas had mounted since the retailer warned in December that it would breach the conditions attached to its loans. It has debts of nearly £300 million.
Last week, it announced it would be cutting the price of many products by 25 per cent, but denied at the time this was a sign it was in dire straits.