Richard Branson is a famously shrewd operator, as his latest piece of business proves...
The Virgin maestro has done a deal to sell his 125 UK and Irish Virgin Megastores this week after agreeing to a buy-out by top level management. The value of the deal has not been disclosed but all outlets will be rebranded with the curious Scrabble friendly name 'Zavvi'.
An ugly holding page for the company (above) is already live and the existing company structure will remain with MD Simon Douglas staying on in his current role. It is also believed that there will be minimal disruption to the store's 2,500 staff and no store closures or cut backs have been announced at this time.
In a short but positive statement Douglas said "We will deliver a new brand that lives and breathes entertainment and delivers high quality enthusiastic service to existing and new customers."
In response Branson explained "In the last six years we have been withdrawing from entertainment retailing which is no longer viewed as core to the group's future."
All kudos here to Sir Rich. High street music retailing has been dying a death in recent years and with online sales booming and Apple adding WiFi access to iTunes direct from its new iPod touch player and iPhone it is likely to fall further still. Of course Mr Douglas may believe he has a brave new vision to shake off this high street malaise, but I find myself siding with the former crazy balloonist on this one.
Fine move Sir.