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Blockbuster to keep more than 1,500 stores open

Sun., July 24, 2011

DALLAS – If your neighborhood Blockbuster store is open, it’s cleared a hurdle with new owners Dish Network Corp.

Dish, the No. 2 satellite TV provider, told the bankruptcy court Thursday that it plans to assume about 1,500 Blockbuster leases, wrapping up a bankruptcy that was filled with cliffhangers.

That’s the bulk of the 1,700 Blockbuster stores that were open when Dish acquired the former Dallas-based company out of bankruptcy in April.

In the past two weeks, additional stores have closed.

Stores that closed either weren’t profitable or landlords chose not to continue lease agreements, said Dish Network spokesman Marc Lumpkin.

Dish is considering opening additional Blockbuster stores and the franchisees, whose stores weren’t part of the bankruptcy, continue to operate almost 200 stores, Lumpkin said.

Dish is using stores to promote its satellite service and has stepped up promotions and lowered prices to better compete. Blockbuster responded directly to price increases from Netflix last week with a special offer for its rival’s customers.

Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in September and closed about 1,500 stores while it tried to reorganize. The chain was heading toward liquidation after creditors couldn’t agree on a plan, but Dish’s $320 million bid saved the company.

Blockbuster LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Englewood, Colo.-based Dish and operates out of the Blockbuster distribution center in McKinney, Texas.

Blockbuster stores are usually in high-traffic neighborhood shopping centers with spaces that are visible from the street.

Landlords say those spots have been easier to fill. One 10,700 square-foot Blockbuster, in Dallas’ Preston Royal Village shopping center, was vacated on Wednesday, and there’s no lack of suitors for the space.

“We’ve had interest from a wide variety of possible tenants including every type of restaurant, salons and a beer and wine store,” said Jackie Stewart, partner in Preston Royal Realty Co., which owns the North Dallas shopping center.


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