|UK music giant HMV seeking buyer
For generations of British music fans, HMV stores were the perfect place to while away a Saturday afternoon, browsing through racks of albums, new singles and the latest bargain.
But now the group, the last major music and DVD specialist left on the British high street, has followed rivals into administration as it succumbs to the reality of the new Internet age and a shift to digital formats, AFP reports.
HMV will continue trading while a buyer is sought, but the future looks bleak for the more than 4,300 staff in 239 stores across Britain and Ireland.
The company has been hammered for years on price and range by online rivals such as iTunes and Amazon, as well as the supermarkets, coupled with a sharp decline in physical sales coinciding with a boom in digital entertainment.
It has huge debts and in December it reported sales were down 13.5 percent, prompting the chain to warn that it could breach crucial banking agreements in January.
The share price crashed, leaving the company valued on Monday at just over 5 million pounds -- a far cry from the almost 850 million proposed in a 2006 private takeover offer.
HMV is the lone survivor of a desperate decade for the industry that has felled rivals Our Price, Tower Records, Virgin Music and Zavvi.
It had sought to innovate, introducing a click and collect service, free open wi-fi in shops and 'myhmv', a personalised web-based service that connects to customers' mobile phones when they enter a store and offers them tailored deals.
But critics say the company was too slow to respond to the Internet.
Kate Calvert, an analyst at Seymour Pierce brokers, said this week's developments were "inevitable, with the declining footfall on the high street and the nature of the fact that their product categories are disappearing''.
"HMV isn't a brand that the youth of today think of,'' she told AFP.