Will HMV be R.I.P. in Canada?

The multi-level HMV store at the corner of Robson and Burrard streets in Vancouver is among the last of a dying breed in Canada: the big-chain music store. The space was previously occupied by the country’s only Virgin Megastore, which was taken over by HMV in 2005. Virgin pulled out of the North American music business altogether a few years later. Canadian icon Sam the Record Man met a similar fate, closing its last store in Toronto in 2007.

Now, HMV’s debt-strapped parent, HMV Group, is exploring the possibility of selling its 123 Canadian outlets as part of a massive restructuring effort aimed at halting its slow decline in an age of iTunes, iPods and, most recently, streamed movies and videos. HMV says it’s also looking at selling its Waterstone’s U.K. bookstore chain. However, Nick Williams, the president of the Canadian operation, said in a statement that HMV Canada has “no intention of withdrawing from its position as the number one entertainment retailer in the country,” and continues to work on an overhaul focused more heavily on “digital downloads, technology and related entertainment products.” If that fails, one thing is certain: the building at Robson and Burrard is unlikely to house a third music retailer.

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