Canada’s Sunrise Records chain store owner Doug Putman has made a bid to seize control of troubled retailer HMV from under the nose of Newcastle United Football Club owner and billionaire Mike Ashley.
In a move that could save two-thirds of HMV's stores from closure, Putman is understood to have arrived in London with his lawyers to push through a bid for one of Britain's most recognised shops.
Ashley's interest emerged two weeks ago. But The Mail on Sunday reports that the intervention of Putman has catapulted him into pole position in recent days.
The UK newspaper cites sources saying that Putman's plan could safeguard up to 90 of the chain's 125 UK stores.
“The Canadian is a self-confessed music lover in his mid-30s. He has been president at Sunrise Records since 2014 and grown it from around a dozen stores to more than 80 after he bought HMV's Canadian business in 2017,” Neil Craven at the UK tabloid writes.
Brit trade publication Music Week expands: “If neither Ashley nor the current management secures a deal this week, then HMV could go into liquidation. But Music Week understands that Sunrise Records would at that point move to negotiate directly with landlords and suppliers, who would be seeking to secure the return of stock that had been supplied on consignment.
“While that might be late in the day for an audacious takeover, Sunrise Records could see an opportunity to establish its own brand name in the UK within weeks.”
Putman, 34, acquired the 12-store Ontario music chain from the Perlman brothers in 2013 and then, in an audacious move, negotiated leases from mall owners left holding the bag when HMV Canada declared bankruptcy in 2017 and successfully expanded the Sunrise Records brand to 82 stores nationwide. Today he employs about 800 staff working full or part-time in Sunrise locations and at the company’s Ancaster, ON head-offices. The privately held company annually sells more than a half-million vinyl LPs along with CDs, DVDs, board games, electronics and pop ephemera.
FYI reached out to Putman over the weekend but perhaps because of the delicate negotiations he has not responded.