Zavvi, latest high street victim, goes into administration

Zavvi, the music retailer formerly known as Virgin Megastores, has been placed in administration, adding further woe to an already miserable year for high street shops and music retailing.

Zavvi’s website has been unable to sell anything since the collapse of the Woolworths-owned EUK distributor, Zavvi’s main supplier. It has been reported that Zavvi owed a substantial sum to EUK. Administrator Ernst & Young have said they’ll try to keep the chain running until a buyer can be found for the business.

In the same week as Whittard of Chelsea and The Officers Club folded and Woolworths’ administrators began to close their shops, Zavvi’s failing will leave even more shopworkers concerned for their 2009 outlook; the company operated 125 shops across the UK.

If Zavvi closes it would leave the record industry with just HMV, owners of Fopp and Waterstones, as the last major music chain selling their physical products on the high street. It’s unlikely that pressure from supermarkets and the internet, in particular Amazon, will let up on the business, but the failures of Woolworths and Zavvi in quick succession should at least give His Master’s Voice a breathing space.

In better news, independent record seller Rough Trade, celebrating its 30th birthday in 2008, reported its business growing by an impressive 7% year-on-year despite being caught up in the failure of the distributor Pinnacle earlier this month. If big chains failing offers hope to the likes of Rough Trade, perhaps there’s some semblance of a silver lining to the gloom. Here’s hoping so at least.

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