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Blockbuster U.K. Video Stores Set to Follow U.S. Into Extinction

Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Blockbuster video-rental stores are set to disappear from the U.K. after 24 years as administrators prepare for closing following failed efforts to secure a buyer.

Sixty-two of the 153 outlets that remain were today condemned to close by Moorfields Corporate Recovery LLP, which has already shuttered more than 100 stores since being appointed administrator Nov. 11. No acceptable offers have been made for the outstanding 91 units, which may also have to shut, it said.

Closing all the remaining stores would lead to the loss of more than 1,200 jobs, taking the total number to about 2,000 since the administrators were appointed.

The demise of the U.K. chain comes a month after the owner of Blockbuster outlets in the U.S., Dish Network Corp., said it would close the remaining 300 stores in the country.

Blockbuster has been a fixture on U.K. shopping streets since 1989, though has struggled to contend with the emergence of streaming video services such as Netflix Inc. Private-equity firm Gordon Brothers Europe bought the unprofitable U.K. chain out of administration in March, though its efforts to revitalize the business proved in vain, causing the retailer to fall back into the hands of administrators last month.

Blockbuster is the latest name to disappear from Britain’s shopping streets following the collapse of chains including Comet electronics stores and Woolworths variety outlets. A combination of high rents, a weak consumer economy and mounting online competition have led to rising numbers of empty stores.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Jarvis in London at pjarvis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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