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Blockbuster back in administration

Around 2,000 jobs are at risk after the new owner of Blockbuster Entertainment said it is putting the DVD and computer games rental chain into administration for the second time this year due to tough trading.

Private equity group Gordon Brothers Europe said 32 jobs will be cut at the chain's Uxbridge headquarters, while 264 stores are at risk as a buyer is sought.

The chain plunged into administration in January, before being bought by Gordon Brothers in March. At the time of its initial collapse the group had 528 stores in the UK employing 4,190 staff.

Gordon Brothers said its turnaround attempts for the historically loss-making company coincided with a patch of poor trading across rental and retail sales.

It said stores will continue trading but some may need to close if a buyer cannot be found.

Blockbuster has been hit hard by intense competition from supermarkets, as well as the shift from physical rental and sales to online games, music and films.

Gordon Brothers said it tried to turn around the chain by restructuring, investing in marketing and negotiating new deals with landlords.

But it failed to broker a licensing deal with US company Blockbuster LCC, which owns the brand, for a new digital platform.

It said efforts will now focus on "giving the company a chance of future survival through a reduced and different business model in the hope that a buyer will be found".

Frank Morton, chief executive of Gordon Brothers Europe, said: "Since the acquisition, we have worked extremely hard to reignite the Blockbuster brand, make our investment work and put the business on a viable footing.

"Despite our best efforts, we regret that we are now forced to make some redundancies and would like to thank any affected employees for their support during the last six months."

Supermarket chain Morrisons bought 49 of Blockbuster's former stores in February under plans to expand its convenience store network.

The first Blockbuster store in the UK opened in March 1989 in London.

Gordon Brothers describes itself as one of the "largest buyers and sellers of under-performing consumer products worldwide".

It has also helped finance Bradford-based shoe chain Barratts, which has been put into administration twice and is reportedly scrabbling for emergency funds in the run-up to Christmas - threatening more than 1,000 jobs at about 90 stores.

Mr Morton declined to comment beyond the statement.

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