Retailers are facing more competition on the high street as the grocery multiples line up to purchase Blockbuster sites.
The entertainment rental chain entered administration in January, putting more than 300 sites on the market.
A spokesman for Blockbuster administrators Deloitte would not reveal exactly who was lined up to buy sites, but said “there is a good level of interest in the Blockbuster estate, from a wide range of parties”.
“We already have a Tesco and a Sainsbury’s near our Haywards Heath store, with a Waitrose set to open soon. If a multiple opened in the Blockbuster beside us it will have a terrible impact on our business.”
Londis retailer, London and the South East
“Another store near us would have a serious impact. We’re close to the town centre so there’s already enough competition for us.”
M&J News, Horsham, West Sussex
“A Blockbusters and an Arcadia Group store are closing within 100m of my store and apparently a Morrisons M Local is going to open in one. If that happens, I’m going to see a massive decline in trade.”
In Town News, Woking, Surrey
Morrisons has already confirmed the purchase of 49 sites, although it is not the only multiple circling the doomed rental chain’s prime locations. Sainsbury’s has also acquired sites in a bid to grow its convenience offering in London and the South East. It is looking to acquire more suitable sites in time for the opening of its new Thameside distribution centre later this year.
Vino Ramachandran of Londis Purley in Surrey believes his business will be destroyed when a Sainsbury’s Local opens in a former Blockbuster site two doors down from him.
“We opened the store in the first place because the unit was so close to Blockbuster,” he said. “We are concerned about the Sainsbury’s Local, but we can’t do anything because the council thinks it is a good thing. They say it will bring more business to the area. It has already had permission granted for an alcohol licence and we expect it will open this summer. I think my business will be halved because the product range is so similar.”
With Morrisons and Sainsbury’s both after London sites, independent retailers in the capital are also concerned that competition for property will put expansion out of their reach. Kay Patel, who runs four Best-One stores in Stratford, East London, said that with so much interest from the multiples, it was impossible to find new sites.
“I’m trying to find new stores, but as soon a suitable site goes on the market it is snapped up by the multiples,” he said. “The first suitable store I saw in a long time was immediately bought by Sainsbury’s. It’s making it very difficult for us to grow our business.”