Doug Putman: the vinyl fan aiming to put a new spin on HMV | Business

Doug Putman, the Canadian entrepreneur and saviour of HMV, is a self-proclaimed lover of vinyl records who is adamant that bricks-and-mortar music stores are still viable at a time when consumers are ditching CDs in favour of digital downloads.

With his purchase of 100 HMV stores in the UK, he is putting his money where his mouth is and has a major challenge ahead to turn around a retail business that has collapsed into administration twice in the last six years.

Putman, 34, has a decent track record. His Canadian music chain Sunrise Records has grown from just five stores when he bought it in 2014 to 84 stores today. The bulk of that expansion came in 2017 when he bought 70 of HMV’s stores in Canada after the chain went bust there. Putman says the gamble has paid off, with those stores now making a profit.

The music mogul has has compared record shopping to a “treasure hunt”, leading customers to something unexpected, and claims the key to making a music shop work is offering customers depth of choice.

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He told Spill Magazine that while most shops might offer Fleetwood Mac fans a greatest hits collection or the 1977 classic album Rumours, Sunrise stocks a greater choice. “Rather than having what I call the ‘basics’, we would offer Tusk and Tango in the Night. It takes it deeper and it gives the customer that assortment in the store.”

Putman has also been a supporter of aspiring musicians, hosting a competition that offered unsigned Canadian artists the chance to get their music stocked in Sunrise stores across the country.

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Putman has built a business empire that also includes Everest Toys, the largest toys and games distribution company in North America. As the new owner of HMV in the UK, Putman will be hoping that a gamble that appears to have paid off in Canada will do so on the other side of the Atlantic.

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