Simon Fox and the level playing field

HMV slams ‘idiotic’ offshore tax dodging

“For many years we have said we would like to see a level playing field,” said Fox (CEO HMV). 

Simon Fox’s claim to have wanted a level playing field for many years was an interesting one. Given HMV’s well documented recent troubles resulting in terms and support for HMV even better than the already excellent terms and support they had already I would hope that he would want these terms now extended to the independents. However I suspect that what he means is he wants a level playing field with HMV’s nemesis Amazon while maintaining far better terms than the independents.

It was without doubt a sensible decision for the record companies to support HMV even if it may only delay the inevitable but at a time when it has never been more difficult to know what to stock and in what quantities HMV and their little brother FOPP can simply fill their boots and see what happens while the indies have to be far more careful with the constant risk of releases going out of stock.

What is even stranger about Simon Fox’s statement is that HMV themselves (all be it reluctantly) joined in in the tax dodging offshore scam. As the CMU daily says

Anyway, to HMV. Former bosses at the high street CD seller adopted an ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ approach to the Channel Island VAT dodge, choosing to base their own mail-order operation offshore, rather than join the fight for the tax relief abuse to be stopped. Had HMV chosen the latter option, many campaigners believe, the VAT dodge enjoyed by Amazon, and The Hut et al would have been closed much sooner, reducing the negative impact many believe it had on the UK high street entertainment retail sector. 

But now HMV boss Simon Fox, who’s been generally quiet on this issue since taking over at the retailer in 2006, has spoken out, confirming he is now one of those who fears the online retailers will all move en masse to Switzerland and so the VAT dodge party can begin anew. 

Some may think it unfair to claim HMV are jumping on the bandwagon only after the government had already made their decision though others would point to HMV now jumping on the vinyl bandwagon as witnessed on today’s BBC news and claim that with so many previous ideas having failed HMV’s new strategy is to simply wait for the bandwagons to pass by and jump on.        

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