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HMV launching first social media café, free Wi-Fi coming to all stores

BusinessNews
by James Laird
, 14 Aug 2012News
HMV launching first social media café, free Wi-Fi coming to all stores

Struggling music retailer HMV has revealed that it is to launch a dedicated social media café as part of a plan to revive its fortunes.

The company's inaugural beverage-selling venue will be opened this weekend in the iconic university city of Cambridge, where HMV previously had a store in the Lion's Yard shopping centre.

Back in May, it was forced out of the popular mall to make way for a major site re-design, but now clever student types will be able to enjoy loafing about HMV's new caffeine den and lodging inane status updates about Kantian ethics for free from this Saturday, 18 August.

"It's great to be re-opening in such a fabulous location and with a store that offers so many exciting new features," said Mike Barry, manager at HMV Cambridge.

"The whole team here are really looking forward to welcoming back our regular customers as well as new visitors, who we hope will particularly like the expanded technology department and our HMV café with free Wi-Fi," Mr Barry added.

In addition to various connection points and the free connectivity, the new outlet will offer smartphone charging and coffee made by HMV baristas. Retail offerings are set to be refocused around digital products like the Google Nexus 7 and iPad, rather than CDs and DVDs.

While the entertainment chain says that the Cambridge experiment is planned as a one-off at this stage - HMV cafés won't be a feature on your local high street, in other words - it has also ventured that free Wi-Fi connectivity across its retail estate is likely to feature in the immediate future.

Suggesting that Monday's announcements represent the start of a major "transformation" for the retail firm, a spokeperson contended that HMV would continue to explore new ways of staying relevant in the increasingly digitalised consumer world. Last year, the company opened its first dedicated technology store, while in 2009 it teamed up Curzon.to launch in-store cinemas.

"HMV is increasingly developing a fully-fledged multi-channel offer across its combined store, online and digital estate," the representative said.

Though HMV has survived the digital music revolution thus far, it has been hit by some setbacks recently. Last week, it announced that sales had fallen below the £1 billion mark for the first time since it went public back in 2002.

Wi-Fi connectivity is one of 2012's hottest tech topics and may be emerging as a quick and useful way to curry consumer favour and nab a headline.

Virgin Media recently powered Wi-Fi rollout across much of the London Underground transport network, while rival telecoms firm O2 helped department store chain Debenhams deploy free Wi-Fi across its retail estate.

O2 also provided free Wi-Fi across London for the duration of the 2012 Olympic Games.

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