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December 12, 2009

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HMV hopes for good Christmas

BRITISH entertainment retailer HMV Group is hoping strong demand for music this Christmas, fueled by the X Factor TV talent show and singing phenomenon Susan Boyle, will offset weak markets in books and computer games.

"It's a very good Christmas for music, led by the whole X Factor effect and Susan Boyle's quite remarkable sales performance," Chief Executive Simon Fox told reporters yesterday after HMV posted an expected narrowing of first-half losses.

Along with Boyle's chart topping debut album, "I Dreamed a Dream," releases from 2007 X Factor winner Leona Lewis, 2008 runners-up JLS, and Cheryl Cole, a judge on the show, are expected to drive HMV's Christmas sales.

"The games market, having had two years of growth, is currently going backwards ... books are looking quite tough," said Fox, echoing comments on Tuesday.

HMV, which runs 420 stores under its own name as well as 312 Waterstone's bookstores, made a pretax loss of 24.9 million pounds (US$40.6 million) in the 26 weeks to October 24. That compares with analyst forecasts of a loss of 17 million to 26 million pounds and a loss of 27.5 million pounds last year.

Finance Director Neil Bright said he was "comfortable" with analysts' consensus pretax profit forecast of 75 million pounds for the year to end-April.


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