By Neil Maidment and Rosalba O‘Brien
LONDON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Music and DVD retailer HMV may announce as soon as Monday that it will call in the administrators, according to a source close to the company and media reports, bringing the curtain down on one of Britain’s best-known high street stores.
Deloitte is being lined up as the administrator, and an announcement is expected imminently. The Financial Times said suppliers had refused a request for a 300 million pound ($482 million) lifeline, but Sky said administration could still be averted as the board remained locked in talks.
HMV declined to comment.
The company, which has 239 stores in the UK and Ireland and employs around 4,350 staff, has struggled in declining music, DVD and games markets. In December it warned a breach of its banking agreements was likely.
It is led by Trevor Moore, who joined HMV last year from camera specialist Jessops, which last week also went into administration.
HMV had said a late Christmas surge in sales was critical, but it sparked worries last week that such a surge had not materialised when it launched a month-long sale on some products, sending its shares to an all-time low.
As its debt rose - underlying net debt stood at 176 million pounds at its half year to Oct. 27 - the company sold off much of its live entertainment business. It had disposed of the book chain Waterstones in 2011.
The support of suppliers - music labels, games manufacturers and others who look to HMV as one of the last bastions of entertainment content on the high street - has been crucial.
Opened on London’s Oxford Street by English composer Edward Elgar in 1921, HMV, famous for its Nipper the dog trademark, has been a musical powerhouse, selling records and albums to generations.
But the rise of online and digital music, and the firm’s failure to adapt quickly enough, spelled the beginning of its struggles.
With DVD and games demand also in decline, HMV has belatedly tried to shift its focus toward technology products like tablets and headphones, but has faced tough competition to prise sales away from online firms such as Amazon.
HMV shares closed down 8.3 percent to just above a penny a share on Monday, valuing the company at around 5 million pounds.