Belfast Telegraph

Xtra-vision planning vending machine rentals

By COLM KELPIE AND MARGARET CANNING

Xtra-Vision vending machines for renting movies and games could make it to Northern Ireland before the end of the year.

UK turnaround specialist Hilco, which bought the rental chain after it went into receivership earlier this year, is to trial 20 machines in supermarkets in the Republic to gauge the market.

The company is in negotiations with supermarket chains to roll out the venture within the next six-to-eight weeks.

It's understood the machines could be extended to Northern Ireland if the pilot in the Republic is successful.

Hilco said the move, along with the possibility of a video-on-demand service, would, if successful, future-proof the business and secure jobs.

The company, headed up by Belfast man Paul McGowan, bought 89 Xtra-vision stores in June, throwing a lifeline to the company's 800 staff in Northern Ireland.

While some stores were closed, others were kept open in locations including Derry, Strabane and Limavady.

Mr McGowan said the vending machine concept is the logical next step for the rental market.

"As the rental market gets smaller, you're still paying the rent and you're still paying everything else, so the logical move is to find a different way of doing it," he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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