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Entertainment retailers ‘must engage with locals’

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Entertainment retailers must engage more with their local communities if they are to boost their sales on the high street, according to Managing Director of The Book Depository Kieron Smith.

The boss of the online bookseller told Retail Gazette that there are few inspiring products available for consumers, which is perhaps a result of a lack of investment in research and development by companies over the last two years as budgets have tightened.

“What with the end of Woolworths on the high street and the pressure on game Group and HMV Group, it appears entertainment retailers need to interact with shoppers to find out exactly what new entertainment is,” Smith explained.

“Saying that the answer is downloads seems a bit of a cop-out to me – it’s a case of not getting inspiring products to sell.”

Aside from Woolies, which went out of business at the start of 2009, the retailers mentioned by Smith are all trying to address falling sales figures.

HMV Group is currently in the process of a major store portfolio reconstruction and recently recruited former ITV Studios Finance Director (FD) David Wolffe as its new FD to oversee many of the structural changes being undertaken at the business.

Meanwhile Game Group announced in January that it will invest the £15 million it expects to make through a 2011 cost-cutting strategy, by improving its interaction with customers both online and in-store.

HMV Group, which owns the struggling book chain Waterstone’s, and Game Group saw total sales during the first half of their respective trading years fall six and 10.9 per cent year-on-year.

Smith commented: “The big voice high street chains are struggling to engage on a national level, maybe regionalisation will provide new ways to connect with customers.”

Read more of Kieron Smith’s views in Retail Gazette’s Big Interview, scheduled to be published next week.

Published on Friday 18 March by Editorial Assistant

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