Blockbuster stores escape the axe

First published in Business The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Business Editor. Call me on 01865 425460

The majority of the county’s Blockbuster video stores have escaped the latest round of closures announced by administrators.

Specialist finance firm Deloitte which is handling the Blockbuster administration revealed 164 further stores would close but out of 10 remaining sites in the county, only the Wantage outlet will close with the loss of five jobs.

But more Oxfordshire jobs are in jeopardy as it was revealed clothing retailer Republic has become the latest high street operator to collapse.

Lee Manning, joint administrator for Blockbuster, said: “We have continued to review the performance of individual stores since our appointment a month ago and have concluded that further closures are necessary in order to restructure the company for sale.

“We are in discussions with a number of parties interested in purchasing all or parts of the business and will update on progress in due course.”

Blockbuster called in administrators in January and 129 of its 528 stores including those in Faringdon and Kidlington were earmarked for closure.

The remaining stores including those in Headington, Witney, Bicester, Banbury, Thame, Wallingford, Didcot and Carterton will continue to trade as usual whilst administrators progress negotiations with bidders.

Meanwhile, administrators have been called into fashion store chain Republic which has outlets in Cornmarket Street, Oxford and Castle Quay, Banbury.

A total of 2,500 jobs across the UK are at risk including 25 in the Oxfordshire stores.

Administrator Hunter Kelly said: "Republic suffered poor trading results in the autumn and whilst sales picked up in December there has been a sudden and rapid decline in sales in late January.”

He added: "We will continue to trade Republic, with a view to selling the business as a going concern.”

The chain's woes follow a bleak start to the year for the retail sector, with a series of high-profile firms having hit the wall.

Music retailer HMV and camera group Jessops have also called in administrators.

Dr Jonathan Reynolds, academic director at the Oxford Institute of Retail Management at the Said Business School in Oxford, said: “As a fashion retailer, you have got to get the proposition right and ensure the right goods are being offered at the right price to the right target market.”

Matt Martin, corporate law partner at Oxford law firm Manches, said: " This highlights the challenges faced by multi brand bricks and mortar retailers such as Republic who face stiff competition from their online competitors It seems inevitable that some stores will be lost along the way."

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