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Blockbuster UK’s new private equity owners promise ‘new life for high street staple’

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Blockbuster UK’s new private equity owners have pledged to bring “new life to this high street staple,” building on its online presence as well as an estate of more than 200 stores.

Gordon Brothers Europe has bought Blockbuster Entertainment Ltd and Blockbuster GB Ltd, which trade as Blockbuster, through a subsidiary, TS 1973 Investment Holdings Limited. It will license the name from Blockbuster in the US. The deal brings with it 264 UK Blockbuster stores, more than 2,000 staff and the entertainment rental and retail business’ online trading platform,

Frank Morton, chief executive of Gordon Brothers Europe, says there is a still a market for the brand. It plans to improve the Blockbuster customer experience through new products, new technologies and “better basic retailing” in order to help it return to viability. The new business will be headed by managing director Gary Warren, previously commercial director at HMV UK and Ireland.

Morton said: “We acknowledge the industry is in transition; we know that we have a challenge ahead but there is still a market to be served.

“Blockbuster has a strong brand affinity and we believe that with the right mix of new product offering, new technologies, strategic management and marketing, we can bring new life to this high street staple.”

When Blockbuster went into administration in January it had 4,190 staff and 528 stores. But while it has continued to trade online and through stores, today it has half the stores that it did, while its workforce is similarly reduced.

At the time that Blockbuster went into administration, administrators said the company had faced increased competition from internet-based providers, while the market had also moved towards digital streaming.

Announcing the sale, joint administrator Lee Manning, of Deloitte, said: “Having identified a profitable core portfolio of stores we are pleased to have achieved this sale for creditors. Together with the previously-announced store sales, more than half of the original estate has been secured for ongoing use. This transaction provides Blockbuster with a future in the UK.”

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