United Kingdom (1981)
Number of locations
|50 stores (at peak)|
9 stores (2014-2019)
10 stores (2019-present)
|Gordon Montgomery, Founder|
|Products||CDs, vinyl records, DVDs, books, café|
|Owner||HMV Holdings PLC|
By 2007, Fopp had expanded to become a chain of over 100 branches in the UK. With the demise of rival chain Music Zone, Fopp became the third largest specialist music retailer in the UK in terms of store numbers (after HMV and Virgin Megastores).
Having taken over rival chain Music Zone following its fall into administration, Fopp found itself with cash flow problems. The company cancelled book deliveries in June blaming a change in location of warehouse from Bristol to Stockport (the old Music Zone warehouse).
On 21 June 2007, the company began accepting only cash transactions, stating card authorisation problems as the cause. On 22 June 2007 the company closed all branches for 'stocktaking' and said it was in talks with its bank. A week later the company announced a temporary closure in all its outlets and its online venture, and staff were informed that they would not be receiving their monthly pay.
On 29 June 2007, Fopp called in receivers after a last-ditch deal that would have allowed Sir Richard Branson a way to devolve himself from the loss making Virgin Megastores without the negative PR of closing down multiple locations, but this deal failed to win support from Virgin's main supplier. The stores were closed, and staff were sent home with their monthly salaries unpaid.
The Fopp website was taken down shortly afterwards and replaced with the following message:
|"||"It is with great regret that we announce the closure of Fopp.
Our store chain is profitable, well regarded and loved by our loyal customers and staff. However we have failed to gain the necessary support from major stakeholders, suppliers and their credit insurers to generate sufficient working capital to run our expanding business.
We would like to thank staff and customers for their support over the past 25 years.
Any outstanding website orders have now been cancelled and will not be fulfilled or charged."
|-- Fopp closure announcement, 29 June 2007|
On 31 July 2007, it was announced that HMV would take control of the Fopp brand and its stores in Cambridge, Edinburgh Rose Street (but not Cockburn Street), Glasgow, London Covent Garden, Manchester and Nottingham. On 12 February 2008, Bristol Evening Post reported that a further store would open in Bristol (in a former HMV-owned Waterstone's store), a city in which three Fopp stores had traded prior to summer 2007.
On 24 August 2007, the Glasgow Union Street and Edinburgh stores reopened. The Cambridge store reopened on 25 August 2007, and the Manchester store was relaunched on the 27th. After a statement from HMV stating that it was unable to open the Covent Garden London branch, it finally gained the landlord's consent to take over the lease and the store reopened on 5 October 2007. Only around 10% of the original 700 employees kept their jobs.
It was also announced that the Leamington Spa store would be reopening as Head, a separate store from Fopp, but retaining Fopp's stock and assets. The Head store opened on 1 November 2007 and employed some of its predecessor's former employees. The store intends to host regular performances from local bands, and hopes to allow musicians, artists and authors from Leamington and its surrounding areas to sell their work there. This was initially a single store, but has more recently expanded into a chain of four sites.
In 2009 the HMV store in Exeter, Devon, was rebranded as a new Fopp store while HMV moved to a new building in the redeveloped Princesshay Shopping Centre. Also in August 2010, HMV opened a new Fopp store on the ground floor of the Waterstone's store in Gower Street, London. On 30 January 2011, HMV closed the Fopp Store in Exeter due to poor sales in the recent reform of HMV. It was the first Fopp Store to close under the HMV banner. In January 2014, Fopp announced it would be closing the London Gower Street branch within Waterstone's on 18 January 2014, with the remaining business transferring to the Covent Garden branch.
At their peak under HMV ownership, nine stores were trading as Fopp.
The first Fopp store was a market stall in Decourcey's Arcade near Byres Road in Glasgow opened 1981 by Gordon Montgomery. Fopp operated a "keep-it-simple" approach to the pricing of its merchandise, with most prices rounded to whole-pound figures. It built a reputation for reasonable prices on new releases, and competitive prices (often £5) on non-mainstream catalogue CDs, DVDs and books. The company also had a policy called "suck it and see", whereby any purchase could be returned to the shop within 28 days for a full refund as long as it was as new.
Until 2007 there were 50 Fopp stores and 37 outlets branded as Music Zone throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Fopp appeared in The Scotsman's list of the 250 Biggest Scottish Companies of 2005. As of 2016, Fopp has nine stores across England and Scotland. London Covent Garden, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Nottingham Broadmarsh Centre, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow Union Street, and Glasgow Byres Road.