PLUCKY independent record stores could face a rosier future following the demise of HMV.

The country’s largest and oldest group of record stores shut this week, following a slump in CD and DVD sales.

Owners of surviving record stores in south Essex, a bastion of independents – four in south east Essex against one in Surrey and four in Kent – believe HMV's departure has already put business their way.

Sandra Bennett, who owns and runs Fives Records, in Leigh Broadway, says: “Sales this month are up, and yet January is normally a dead month.”

Adrians, in Wickford, has also done well since HMV went into administration.

Owner, Adrian Rondeau, says “The collapse of HMV leaves record company reps with a much smaller base of supply, and they will be concentrating far more on supporting independents like ourselves.”

Specialist record shops view supermarkets, not the internet or downloading, as the dark side.

Sandra says: “It was supermarket sales that killed HMV, and they also did for Blockbuster in the DVD field. Supermarkets are able to sell CDs at discount prices as loss leaders, and they can afford to advertise them on TV. “But this does provide an opportunity for independents like ourselves. Supermarkets don’t do back-catalogues, they don’t provide a personal service and they haven’t got that special feel you get in record stores.”

Adrian has identified other gaps the independents can exploit He says: “Supermarkets haven’t latched on to the appeal of vinyl. And vinyl enthusiasts tend to be reluctant to purchase online. They tend to be very particular, and are concerned that the records could be damaged during delivery. They prefer stores.”

Adrian also believes HMV “made a big mistake” when they dispensed with their back-catalogue, and stopped taking individual orders. “That is a big part of our attraction,” he says.

Essex’s newest independent record store, Anything That's Rock ’n’ Roll, in Southchurch, was opened by former financier Stuart Hill in August 2012.

Stuart says: “I opened it because I wanted to do something that I loved doing, but I had to be able to survive commercially as well. I’m not going to become a millionaire, but the business is proving very healthy.

“People can come here and browse, have a cup of tea or coffee, and, above all, talk. “Customers love talking to me or to each other about music. Nobody in HMV had the time to do that sort of thing, and the atmosphere didn’t seem to encourage it either.”

In the end, the survival of independent retailers is a mater of flexibility, Adrian says.

“We are able to respond to market conditions,” he says. “I started 44 years ago, selling records in Wickford market.

“Even if the wheel turned full circle, and I ended back in Wickford Market, I’d still be selling records.”