Alex Wilby, Partner

Rescuing a suffering high-street with Alex Wilby


A sense of déjà vu is flooding UK high-streets as beloved entertainment retailer, HMV, appeals to buyers as they fall into administration for a second time. The good Samaritan in us all hopes a new deal will see HMV from the ashes rescuing 2,000 jobs, but would saving the near century old retailer be a good deal in a digitally driven market?

Customer experience vs. convenience
Technology has moved on significantly since the fond memories of meeting up with friends at your local HMV, to fight your way through the busy store until you found the latest chart topper. Now you can sign up to free streaming services and listen to any song at the click of a button!

The way individuals perceive customer experience has changed dramatically over the years. Streaming giants, Spotify, invest millions into creating the ultimate digital customer experience where everything is an immediate and seamless process, with the minor inconvenience of adverts for none paying customers.

High streets throughout the UK are littered with restaurant chains, charity and discount stores, this may be due to shopping being seen as transactional as opposed to an experience with family or friends. Retailers are now looking to team up in order increase footfall and create an environment in which customer wish to spend time in. This is highlighted by Waterstones in recent years, where in some stores an adjoining Costa coffee shop allows customers to relax whilst reading a book of their choosing. Similarly, Debenhams have announced they are improving their in store experience with the introduction of stylish pop-up bars.

It’s cheaper online
More often than not we are guilty of saying those three words and in most cases this is true. The decline of the high-street isn’t helped by the outdated business rates levied on these stores and with internet companies pushing profits to low tax jurisdictions, its all but impossible for high-street businesses to be price competitive.

If HMV were to secure another buyer, the new owners may be well advised to revise its operations and create a memorable experience to attract customer footfall. On a macro level, many feel the tax regime is in need of reform in order for high-street retailers to remain competitive.

If you are a retailer looking to modernise your business by moving online or diversifying your service offering, our Commercial team can provide the specialist advice you require. For more information please contact Alex Wilby, on 0191 384 2441 or by email at

View All Articles >