A report that CEO Simon Fox plans to reject the amorous advances of ITV has given a big boost to HMV’s share price this morning: the music and games retailer saw its market value jump by almost £20m after a report in today’s Times that Fox wants to stay and complete his three-year turnaround plan. A nice ego boost for Fox, perhaps, but it’s another setback for ITV, which is supposed to be appointing Grade’s successor in the next few months. We can’t help wondering if it may have had a similar response from quite a few of its preferred candidates, given the size of the task involved…
According to the Times, Fox has told his board that he doesn’t want to leave HMV yet, because he’s only two years into a three-year turnaround programme and he wants to stick around until the job’s done. So far the results have been a bit mixed. On the one hand, Fox’s new strategy (which involves a greater focus on online retail and video games) does seem to be winning market share from rivals. However, it’s a fiercely competitive space at the best of times, and particularly so in the middle of a consumer spending slowdown – which perhaps explains why the shares are actually worth less now than they were when Fox took over. Still, today’s bounce shows that shareholders are happy with the job he’s doing.
Besides, if Fox thinks his current sector is hard work, switching to commercial broadcasting would hardly make his life any easier. The fall in advertising revenue is causing serious pain across the sector, while the rise of the digital channels raises some serious questions about their long-term viability. ITV itself just slumped to a £105m loss for the first half of 2009, while it’s also taken a £150m hit on the sale of Friends Reunited and seen its pension liability rocket. In fact, just about the best news for an incoming CEO is that things can probably only get better from here (one would hope).
Fox’s supposed withdrawal (which should at least please our editor) leaves the field clear for the likes of Apple Europe boss Pascal Cagni and former BSkyB chief Tony Ball. You might wonder what kind of glutton for punishment would want to take on a task of this magnitude – but hopefully the prospect of bolstering your CV by reviving one of the UK’s most famous brands will be too attractive for someone to resist...
In today's bulletin:
Job cuts slowing - except in the public sector
Music to HMV's ears as Fox rules out ITV switch-over
BAA getting back on the right path?
Employees worry about being down-at-heel
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