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Clicks to close Musica after 29 years

Due to the shift to digital consumption of music, movies and games, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image: Moneyweb

South Africa’s Clicks Group said on Thursday it had decided to close its Musica entertainment business due to the shift to digital consumption of music, movies and games, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Acquired by the pharmacy group in 1992, Musica has been the country’s leading music and entertainment retail brand for several decades.

But for several years “Musica has been operating in a declining market … owing to the structural shift globally to the digital consumption of music, movies and games from the traditional physical format,” Clicks said.

“The inevitable demise of the brand has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in the rapid decline in foot traffic in destination malls where Musica stores are typically located.”

Musica has closed 19 stores since the start of its 2021 financial year in September and is currently trading from 59, Clicks said. The remaining stores will be closed as leases expire over the next four months.

In the stores which have been closed, Musica staff have been absorbed into the group’s health and beauty store network, the company said, adding management was committed to accommodating the remaining staff within the group “where this is operationally feasible.”

Clicks also reported a 7.8% rise in group turnover to R14.6 billion ($955.24 million) in the 21-weeks ended January 24, helped by strong demand for immunity-building vitamins and supplements.

Sales were also boosted by its drug distribution and bulk and wholesale supplier, United Pharmaceutical Distributors (UPD), which grew sales by 10.6%, with good growth from the private hospital and independent pharmacy channels due to increased demand for medicines and healthcare products during the second wave of the pandemic.

Retail health and beauty sales, including Clicks and the franchise brands of The Body Shop, GNC and Claire’s, rose by 8%, while group online sales jumped 173% as shoppers opted for the convenience of home delivery to reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19.

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Music retail is a tough business and Musica’s instore staff did not have musical knowledge and expertise and service specialists to build customer loyalty. When you go into a store and ask ‘Do you have the latest Bruce Springsteen?’ and you get the response ‘Bruce who?’ you know there is a problem. When you go into Musica stores and repeatedly see CDs placed outside of alphabetical order you realise they cannot even get the basics right then the writing is on the wall. Sad.

So sad but so true.

What I often saw behind the counter was unmotivated, lazy teenagers with no ambition or direction in life who think that they are doing customers a huge favour by helping them. Ultra-cool tattooed youngsters in their pink golf shirts whose sole aim in life is to get something for nothing whilst they fiddle with their cell phones all day long And that loud taxi music gave me a headache. I understand that in a music store you have to play music but at least make it possible to have a conversation with someone else.

Apple killed this business … ages ago.

Check out JB Hi-Fi in Australasia. This is how a bricks-and-mortar operation responds to change and things going online. They have people instore who know music and can add value to the customer on music selections. It got to the point where their instore specialists knew me and my music tastes and would recommend music that would not hesitate to buy. When did that ever happen at Musica? You were lucky if they even greeted you. I buy online but I would have remained loyal to a quality music retailer. By the way, CD Warehouse was a quality operation and …then Clicks got involved. Not to criticize Clicks but Musica always seemed an odd fit i.e. not their core business.

End of comments.

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