Struggles on the high street

Published: 17 Jan 2013 12:30

RESIDENTS and businesses hope the town will come out fighting, despite suffering a triple blow with three major high street retailers going into administration.

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Deloitte was appointed administrator for struggling DVD and games rental chain Blockbuster yesterday (Wednesday), while music and DVD retailer HMV announced on Tuesday it was appointing an administrator, putting 4,350 jobs

at risk nationally. The news of Blockbuster's plight came just five days after camera chain Jessops closed its Reading shop, in Queen Victoria Street, on Friday, one of 187 closures across the country that left 1,370 people out of work.

Lee Manning, spokesman for Deloitte, said: "In recent years Blockbuster has faced increased competition from internet based providers along with the shift to digital streaming of movies and games.

"We are working closely with suppliers and employees to ensure the business has the best possible platform to secure a sale, preserve jobs and generate as much value as possible for all creditors."

But MP for Reading West, Alok Sharma, urged that stores must embrace new technologies in order to survive, saying: "Any job losses are to be regretted and I hope these can be minimised but sometimes companies suffer because their business model becomes outdated or is impacted by technological advances."

David Cooke, interim executive director at Reading UK CIC, said: "I think the high street is changing but Reading is in a good place to embrace that, with a perfect mix of entertainment and shopping."

Gemma Chandler, 35, from Caversham, visits The Oracle every week with her two children, and is concerned about the loss of small chain stores. She said: "Before long the town could end up like the States with huge supermarkets and department stores everywhere.

"That is not what Reading is about and without the smaller chains it would lose its appeal completely."

The managers of Reading's two top shopping centres point to hope on the horizon. New business Ed's Easy Diner, a retro American restaurant, is set to open at The Oracle in the spring, and four new businesses are poised to open in the Broadstreet Mall in the coming months.

Mall manager Steve Fawke hopes all units at the shopping centre will be fully let out by spring.

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