A small number of Primark stores are set to start selling CDs from artists signed to Universal Music Group, according to music blog The Monitors. Primark said that the venture would complement its current business because ‘fashion and music have always been synonymous.’ We’re not sure Rihanna singles in Primark are quite up to the standard of fashion icon and glam rock legend David Bowie in his heyday, but whatever.
Nonetheless, Primark has 242 stores in the UK, meaning if the venture were rolled out nationally, it could be a serious contender in the marketplace. The largest music retailer in the UK currently is the strugglng HMV with 220 outlets. But last year HMV announced half-year losses of £36.4m, meaning it is not in terribly good shape, and all the other major rivals such as Woolworths, Virgin Megastores, Tower and MVC have closed over the last decade. That’s not to say that Primark would be able to sweep in and take a monopoly on what is left of the market. Most major supermarkets now sell music and some other high-street clothing retailers such as Claire’s Accessories and Urban Outfitters have music available to buy in their stores.
So why does Primark think it would work? Well despite a general decline in CD music sales, about 65% of albums sold in the UK are still in CD or even vinyl form. That’s still a huge portion of the music industry relying on physical sales instead of downloads. Primark thinks that because of the loss of the high-street brands (and probably the troubles that HMV is facing) ‘there is a natural gap in the market’. Add to that, Universal has about a 25% share of the actual artists’ market in the music biz, so there are dozens of chart-toppers that it could ship out to Primark stores.
Primark has not said whether the scheme will be rolled out to all of its stores, but perhaps it is keeping its powder dry, just in case a national chain sized hole should open up in the music market...