Fears for future of retail park

Blockbuster

Blockbuster

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ANOTHER big business could disappear from a Hartlepool retail park after video rental firm Blockbuster went into administration yesterday.

The town has a Blockbuster store on the Anchor Retail Park which has seen a number of closures in the last couple of years.

Administrators stressed they are seeking a rescue deal for the business.

Several High Street names have disappeared from the town’s retail parks, including Comet and TK Maxx, and stationary store Staples is due to close soon.

Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said the news was “worrying” and stressed the council will work with the landlords to encourage new tenants.

He said: “It would certainly be a loss to Hartlepool because it’s extremely well used and busy.

“It may be another one in a long line of shops that are closing in that particular area which is quite worrying for its long-term sustainability.

“The council will certainly look to work with the landlords to look at what can be done to encourage others in there but in the current economic climate its going to prove extremely difficult.”

Mayor Drummond said the area would feature in a town-wide retail revival strategy.

Deloitte is handling the administration process and said Blockbuster’s collapse was driven by competition from internet firms and digital streaming of movies and games.

Town MP Iain Wright described the news as “another huge blow for Hartlepool” but said it reflected people’s changing shopping habits.

Mr Wright said: “People buy movies online and go to Netflix or LoveFilm or their own satellite suppliers to get movies so we have to understand that part of this is down to people’s changing shopping habits.

“However it doesn’t negate or provide any comfort for those people who could lose their jobs or the economic outlook for the town.

“We just hope that this doesn’t spell the death knell for that retail park which and hope it may provide an opportunity for someone else to provide a service or shopping experience for the people of the town.”

There are 528 Blockbuster stores nationally and it employs 4,190 staff.

Stores will continue to accept gift cards and credit bought through its trade-in scheme for second-hand movies and games, as well as operating its loyalty scheme.