March 28, 2011, 5:22 PM

Hot Topic to close its music site

The web was up in an otherwise down 2010.

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The web was a high point in an otherwise down financial year for specialty apparel retailer Hot Topic Inc.

In response to the disappointing results, Hot Topic, No. 199 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide is taking steps to shake up its financial performance and business operation.

Hot Topic announced today it will take a charge of approximately $15 million in the first quarter to close down Shockhound.com, an online music site. Hot Topic, which sells online at HotTopic.com and Torrid.com, launched Shockhound.com in 2008 as a site for downloading MP3 music files. Hot Topic didn’t give specifics for why the music site was closing.

The company also announced that chief merchandising officer Amy Kocourek has left the organization. Her duties will be assumed by Lisa Harper, who was named Hot Topic’s new CEO on March 21 following the departure of the former top executive, Betsy McLaughlin.

Streamlining operations and the addition of a new top manager follow a disappointing overall 2010, but a healthy year online for Hot Topic.

For the year ended Jan. 29, Hot Topic reported:

  • Web sales grew 8.1% to $64.2 million from $59.4 million in 2009.
  • Total sales decreased 3.9% to $708.2 million from $736.7 million in 2009.
  • The company didn’t break out comparable-store sales.
  • Net loss was $8.2 million compared with net income of $11.9 million in 2009.

Internet Retailer calculates the web accounted for 9.1% of total sales compared with 8.1% in 2009.

Hot Topic doesn’t break out quarterly e-commerce revenue, but for the fourth quarter reported:

  • Total sales decreased 0.8% to $212.4 million from $214.2 in Q4 2009.
  • Comparable-store sales declined 2.1%.
  • Net loss was $600,000 compared with net income of $8 million in Q4 2009.
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