Up to 1,200 Blockbuster jobs face pre Christmas axe

The Northern Echo: Fears are rising that film and games rental chain Blockbuster will close by the end of the year with the loss of 1,200 jobs Fears are rising that film and games rental chain Blockbuster will close by the end of the year with the loss of 1,200 jobs

ADMINISTRATORS handling the troubled Blockbuster chain have urged the Chancellor to cut business rates, as they announced more store closures.

The Blockbuster branch on Acklam Road in Middlesbrough is among 62 being closed, resulting in 427 redundancies across the UK.   

And joint administrators Simon Thomas and Nick O’Reilly of Moorfields Corporate Recovery LLP warned that the remaining 91 Blockbuster shops are in grave danger, raising fears that up to 1,200 jobs could be axed before Christmas. 

They issued the following statement: "Further to our recent statement, we are today announcing the closure of a further 62 stores across the United Kingdom and a further 427 jobs as part of the effective phased closure as announced on 28 November. 

"Unfortunately we have still not received any acceptable offers so as a result we may be forced to close the remaining 91 stores affecting 808 employees." 

With the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement due later today Moorfields is urging Geroge Osborne to take urgent action on business rates as retailers continue to struggle.

Whilst the difficulties faced by TS Operations trading as Blockbuster are not solely due to the burden of business rates the group was paying a sizeable £3.8m on a turnover of £40m. Even if, as speculated, the rates increase were capped at 2 per cent Blockbuster would have faced an increase of £75,000 on an already considerable £3.8m, Moorfields added. 

Blockbuster was bought in March by private equity group Gordon Brothers Europe after its initial collapse in January.

But the new owners said the chain had continued to suffer from poor trading and it was placed in administration last month.

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