A former HMV worker has upended the music giant’s attempts to pull the plug on his new record shop in the North.
Lawyers for the troubled retailer, which shut down its outlet in Derry, warned an ex-manager who decided to go solo that he was harming their reputation.
Tony Cregan, who helped run the HMV store in the city’s Richmond Centre for 10 years until it closed last March, opened a new shop nearby with the backing of a local businessman last week – called HVM.
He had enlisted the backing of the city mayor and 15,000 people on a petition to save the HMV store, which he said was profitable and popular, but went out on his own when his campaign failed.
“We thought what is the point calling the new shop Local CDs or whatever, we’ll just call it HVM. HMV is gone,” he said.
But His Master’s Voice – which is still trading in the UK and Ireland after being bought over by restructuring specialists Hilco – saw things differently.
In a letter from their legal team, they warned Mr Cregan, from Derry, that he was causing confusion in the minds of the public that the business “is associated with or connected with that of our client.”
The warning added: “The continued presence in the market of your business operating under the name HVM has caused and will continue to cause substantial damage to our client’s reputation and goodwill.”
Mr Cregan was forced into rethinking his plans when a customer, in a distinctive local accent, unwittingly provided the answer.
“We were talking in the shop about what was going on,” he said.
“And some boy who overheard us turned around and said: ”HM wha’?“
“So we just turned the sign upside down, and now it’s called WAH.”
A small speech bubble was added to the sign, saying: “His Master’s Voice has told us to change.”
Mr Cregan, who wants the new venture on Carlisle Road to return to the roots of the traditional record shop, said locals believed HMV had come out of the row looking bad.
“People here are buzzing about it. It’s like David and Goliath,” he said.
“People are saying fight them.
“In their legal letter, they quoted our use of their colour scheme – pink and black. People are saying do they own the alphabet and the rainbow as well. Did they copyright them?”
Once established, Wah plans to take on more of the 17 experienced staff left redundant in Derry – an unemployment blackspot – with the closure of the HMV store.
“People are saying the vibe here is great, it’s really friendly,” said Mr Cregan.
“We’re trying to get that discussion back into record shops, where you come in and talk about a good song, a good album or a good band you saw in a bar last night. We’re trying to put that connection back into it.”
The record shop manager said they have been overwhelmed by the support sparked by the row with HMV.
“I’d love to say that was our intention all along and we’re really smart, but that wasn’t the plan at all,” he added.
HMV were asked to comment, but did not make any response.