hmv is a leading specialist retailer of music, film, games and technology products, with over 140 stores around the UK, offering a wide selection of new release and catalogue titles.
The hmv brand, made famous by the iconic image of the ‘dog and trumpet’ trademark featuring ‘Nipper, is practically synonymous with the very history and development of British popular music and culture. Hmv’s rich heritage as a retail specialist stretches back over 90 years to 20th July 1921 when its first store in London’s Oxford Street was officially opened by the celebrated British composer and conductor, Sir Edward Elgar.
Since that time hmv has made music and entertainment available to its customers in every format imaginable: from sheet music and the earliest gramophone 78s to today’s digital downloads. On the way hmv has, of course, notably also taken in vinyl singles and albums, cassettes and CDs as well as film and TV content on VHS, DVD & Blu-ray and games titles across all platforms. More recently still hmv has gone ‘back to the future’ by carrying the latest portable technology such as headphones and tablets.
As one of the first high street brands to recognise the passion that so many of us have for music, film and games, hmv virtually invented the idea of instore events and product launches, and over the years many of the world’s greatest artistes have appeared in its stores to meet their fans, sometimes to perform live or occasionally just to shop. From recording giants such as Elgar and Yehudi Menuhin in its very earliest days to icons including Cliff Richard, Kate Bush, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, Madonna, David Bowie, Beyonce, Amy Winehouse and Quentin Tarantino and more recently Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and One Direction, hmv has hosted them all.
In its first few decades hmv traded principally from its main London flagship store and supplied own-label products to recognised dealers around the country on a franchise basis, but all that changed with the advent of first Elvis then the Beatles in the late Fifties and early Sixties and explosion of popular culture that followed. More HMV stores began to open around London and then gradually the rest of the country as the chain began to take shape and expand during the Seventies. But it was really in the Eighties, through the combined catalyst of Liveaid in 1985 and the advent of the compact disc around the same time that hmv really took off as a leading retail brand with a national footprint. The company began to open larger units and even superstores based on the American model in major city centres, best symbolised, perhaps, by a second flagship store on London’s Oxford Street which was officially opened by Bob Geldof in October 1986 – at over 50,000 sq.ft covering three huge floors the hmv Oxford Circus store at no.150 made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the World’s largest record store.