More than 50 former staff of four HMV stores here are facing the prospect of having to turn to the State for the money owed to them, after being told the music retailer is going into liquidation.
HMV’s store presence here ended last week with the closure of their remaining outlets in Limerick, Dundrum, Henry Street, and Liffey Valley.
As recently as last week, workers were told they would receive their payments yesterday. Workers were advised they would be receiving severance and holiday pay on Friday, which was confirmed by letter issued by the company in July.
However, they were then told that the stores were being put into liquidation on Thursday night and they did not receive the payments owed to them yesterday.
One staff member described this as a “despicable move” on the company’s behalf. Robyn Long who had been with the company for three years said: “It’s all legal, what can we do? It’s a despicable move on their behalf.” Ms Long said that one of the affected workers received the news just days before she was due to get married this weekend.
Another former employee, Brendan Miller, said: “We don’t have any leverage the way it stands.”
A message was widely spread on twitter from an account which appears to be run on behalf of former staff members. It said as far back as July 17 that workers were advised they were being made redundant and that they would be receiving their pay on September 9.
It said news of the liquidation means “Hilco, or HMV Ireland no longer have to pay the staff what is owed and the staff have to apply for state redundancy”.
“Meanwhile, the staff are left with money owed again while HMV Ireland is still tweeting rubbish about celebrities birthdays,” the account also read.
The Twitter account has since been suspended. The Rubberbandits later retweeted he picture with the message “Irish HMV staff are still getting fucked over”.
A spokesperson for Hilco gave no reassurance to the affected employees, other than to say: “All employees’ entitlements such as holiday pay and redundancy are protected by the State, and claims will be progressed as soon as a liquidator has been appointed.”
This implies staff will have to apply through the Government’s insolvency payment scheme to secure monies owed.
Staff in the Limerick store had arranged a sit-in to protest the sudden closure of their shop and the withholding of payment in 2013.
In January 2013, HMV announced it was closing its 16 locations, and making 300 staff redundant after a receiver was appointed. However, eight months later its new owner, Hilco, reopened stores in Dublin’s Henry Street, Liffey Valley shopping centre and Dundrum town centre as well as Limerick’s Crescent shopping centre. As well as buying HMV’s retail outlets in Ireland and Britain, Hilco also bought DVD chain Xtravision. In January of this year, Hilco placed Xtravision into provisional liquidation with the loss of 580 jobs.
Music retailer HMV has expanded their operations by partnering with Tesco to open concessions in 80 of its stores nationwide. Tesco – which has 142 stores nationwide – will roll out the new HMV concessions by December.
The HMV @ Tesco branded concessions will offer music, DVDs and video games based on stock from HMV’s own stores. The deal between the two retail outlets is exclusive to Tesco Ireland outlets and won’t be seen in British stores.
Rental specialists and HMV’s sister business Xtra-vision have already partnered with SuperValu to provide entertainment kiosks in 100 stores nationwide.
The two business are owned by Hilco Capital Ireland which has added HMV concessions to 51 Xtra-vision stores, an incentive which turned a combined €95 million profit here in 2014.
At the time Hilco boss Paul McGowan, added: “In a year when major new movie releases have been scarce and there have been only a few major album successes, HMV and Xtra-vision have captured more and more market share. With a bumper year of new releases already planned for 2015 we expect the Group to have overall growth in like-for-like DVD and BluRay sales as well as continued growth in the physical music sector with vinyl also expected to continue its revival.”
This news is another development in the recovery traction plan of both stores after a turbulent period in the history of both businesses.
HMV Ireland in particular flirted with disaster when in February 2013 every store in the country was closed with immediate effect and 300 jobs were lost. Hilco stepped in, bought the company and by the end of the year many stores were reopened across Ireland.
Tesco meanwhile experienced a tough year of controversy and declining sales but look to have sufficiently by recently recovering to reclaim their position as the biggest retailer in Ireland.