HMFamed music retail chain HMV announced that it was filing for administration (or bankruptcy protection), according to a report in the Guardian this morning. The British-based chain is the latest of a large number of high-profile music store closings, following in the steps of Tower Records and Virgin Megastore.
Like most music retailers, HMV had been struggling to stay afloat amid low album sales and an economic downturn. The store had been attempting to restructure its finances for the past two years; things had started to look better after record labels arranged a deal to take shares of the company in lieu of payment for distribution deals. However, it wasn’t enough to save the venerable music chain, and the status of the company’s 4,500 retail employees remains uncertain.
HMV was founded in 1921 on Oxford Street in London; its first location is still one of the largest record stores in the world. The chain arguably played a huge role in music history when Brian Epstein gave the Beatles’ demo tape to an HMV manager after the band had been rejected by Decca Records. From there, the tape found its way to George Martin, who was impressed enough to invite the band to meet for a record contract.