Five questions answered on the HMV rescue deal

Hilco steps up.

It has been announced today that high street entertainment store HMV has been rescued from closure at the last minute. We answer five questions on the deal that saved the popular chain of stores.

Who has rescued HMV?

Hilco, a restructuring specialist who already owns HMV Canada, has struck up a deal to buy the business, acquiring 132 shops.

No official purchase figure has been announced, but the chain is believed to have been sold for around £50m.

What does this mean for the retail chain and its employees?

It means that the UK’s last surviving national music retailer – that collapsed in January – will remain open, saving around 2,500 jobs.

Is Hilco expected to make any changes to the brand?

As it’s early days not much is known, except that Hilco plans to have its own people working alongside existing HMV management in the new set-up and that the company will be led by Hilco executive Ian Topping, former chief executive of the furniture retail group Steinhoff in the UK.

Mr Topping said he hopes to replicate the success Hilco have had with HMV Canada, which the company purchased two years ago.

What has Hilco said about the deal?

Mr Topping told the BBC: "The structural differences in the markets and the higher level of competition in the UK will prove additional challenges for the UK business, but we believe it has a successful future ahead of it."

What have other high street experts said?

Partner at advisory and restructuring firm, Zolfo Cooper, Peter Saville told the BBC:

"Hilco understands the market well and is a seasoned High Street veteran. The news that HMV is to continue trading will also be welcomed by suppliers, as an over-reliance on online channels may be uncomfortable."

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

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Why Theresa May won't exclude students from the net migration target

The Prime Minister believes the public would view the move as "a fix". 

In a letter to David Cameron shortly after the last general election, Philip Hammond demanded that students be excluded from the net migration target. The then foreign secretary, who was backed by George Osborne and Sajid Javid, wrote: "From a foreign policy point of view, Britain's role as a world class destination for international students is a highly significant element of our soft power offer. It's an issue that's consistently raised with me by our foreign counterparts." Universities and businesses have long argued that it is economically harmful to limit student numbers. But David Cameron, supported by Theresa May, refused to relent. 

Appearing before the Treasury select committee yesterday, Hammond reignited the issue. "As we approach the challenge of getting net migration figures down, it is in my view essential that we look at how we do this in a way that protects the vital interests of our economy," he said. He added that "It's not whether politicians think one thing or another, it's what the public believe and I think it would be useful to explore that quesrtion." A YouGov poll published earlier this year found that 57 per cent of the public support excluding students from the "tens of thousands" target.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, has also pressured May to do so. But the Prime Minister not only rejected the proposal - she demanded a stricter regime. Rudd later announced in her conference speech that there would be "tougher rules for students on lower quality courses". 

The economic case for reform is that students aid growth. The political case is that it would make the net migration target (which has been missed for six years) easier to meet (long-term immigration for study was 164,000 in the most recent period). But in May's view, excluding students from the target would be regarded by the public as a "fix" and would harm the drive to reduce numbers. If an exemption is made for one group, others will inevitably demand similar treatment. 

Universities complain that their lobbying power has been reduced by the decision to transfer ministerial responsibility from the business department to education. Bill Rammell, the former higher education minister and the vice-chancellor of Bedfordshire, said in July: “We shouldn’t assume that Theresa May as prime minister will have the same restrictive view on overseas students that Theresa May the home secretary had”. Some Tory MPs hoped that the net migration target would be abolished altogether in a "Nixon goes to China" moment.

But rather than retreating, May has doubled-down. The Prime Minister regards permanently reduced migration as essential to her vision of a more ordered society. She believes the economic benefits of high immigration are both too negligible and too narrow. 

Her ambition is a forbidding one. Net migration has not been in the "tens of thousands" since 1997: when the EU had just 15 member states and the term "BRICS" had not even been coined. But as prime minister, May is determined to achieve what she could not as home secretary. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.