Essex: Blockbuster stores in Braintree, Halstead and Witham to be axed in latest round of closures

More Blockbuster stores are to close, the company's administrators have revealed.

More Blockbuster stores are to close, the company's administrators have revealed. - Credit: PA

Another 62 Blockbuster DVD rental stores, including three in north Essex, are to close over the next three days with loss of 427 more jobs, the administrators of the collapsed chain announced today.

And with speculation that Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement later today include a move to cap business rates, the administrators at Blockbuster highlighted the burden that the current system has placed on the business.

The latest stores to be axed include the Braintree branch of Blockbuster, which will close for the final time tomorrow, December 6, and those in Halstead and Witham, which will both close on Sunday, December 8. The Braintree and Halstead stores each have a workforce of seven while the Witham branch has a staff of six.

The joint administrators, Simon Thomas and Nick O’Reilly of Moorfields Corporate Recovery, announced towards the end of last month that they were starting a “phased closure” of the remaining Blockbuster stores, having failed to find a buyer for the business.

“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,” they said today.

“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.”

And their statement added: “With the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement due later today Moorfields are urging the Chancellor to take urgent action on business rates as retailers continue to struggle.

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“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 £3.8million on a turnover of £40million. Even if, as speculated, the rates increase were capped at 2% Blockbuster would have faced an increase of £75,000 on an already considerable £3.8m.”

Today’s announcement brings the total number of store closures under the current administration to 154, with a total of 1,061 jobs. Within East Anglia, branches in Ipswich, Mildenhall and Clacton-on-Sea are among those already closed.

It is the second time this year that Blockbuster has fallen into administration, its previous collapse coming in January.

Around half of its then-total of 528 branches were rescued in March by private equity group Gordon Brothers Europe but, according to the current administrators, they have suffered continued poor trading since then.