Blockbuster to shut 72 stores and axe 452 jobs

The closures represent the loss of about a quarter of its 264 outlets

DVD rental chain Blockbuster is to shut 72 stores in the UK with the loss of 452 jobs after going into administration earlier this week.

The closures represent the loss of about a quarter of its 264 outlets and 2,000-strong workforce.

On Monday the chain, which has been hit hard by competition from supermarkets as well as the rise of online rentals, went into administration for the second time this year.

Administrators at Moorfields Corporate Recovery today said talks with potential buyers of parts of the business continued and a further update would be issued within the next seven days.

It was understood that employees were being informed of the job losses this morning.

In a statement, the administrators said: "Over the past few days our focus has been to assess the financial situation of Blockbuster in order to try and find a buyer for the business.

"As part of this process, we are today regretfully announcing the closure of 72 stores across the United Kingdom and the loss of 452 jobs.

"This has not been an easy decision to make and we acknowledge that, with Christmas on the horizon, this will be extremely upsetting news to a large number of people, most of all those affected by the store closures.

"We must reiterate that, as part of our attempts to turn around the business, today's decision is necessary if parts of Blockbuster are to be saved and a buyer found.

"Discussions with potential buyers for parts of the business continue and we hope to be in a position to update staff, creditors and customers shortly with a further statement within the next seven days."

Since its previous rescue from administration by private equity group Gordon Brothers Europe in March, it has suffered poor trading across both rental and retail sales, the statement said.

At the time of its initial collapse in January, Blockbuster had 528 stores in the UK employing 4,190 staff.

The firm announced at the end of last month that it was intending to go into administration again and did so on Monday, having failed to find a buyer in the intervening period.

While the administrators say parts of the business have attracted interest, some are only eyeing up store sites to be taken over in the same way as Morrisons snapped up 49 former outlets earlier this year as part of its convenience store expansion.

Last week, the axe fell on 300 US Blockbuster stores leaving the once-dominant chain with just 50 franchised shops remaining open in the country.

PA

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