Locke Lord takes top billing as Blockbuster files for administration

Locke Lord’s London office has been instructed by the joint administrators for video rental company Blockbuster, which went into administration today (11 November).

Restructuring partner David Grant is leading the work for joint administrators Simon Thomas and Nick O’Reilly of Moorfields Corporate Recovery, who were appointed just under a fortnight after Blockbuster’s owners, TS Operations, announced it was filing a notice of intention to appoint an administrator.

Locke Lord partners Graham Spitz and Ayesha Hasan are also involved.

It is the second time Blockbuster has gone into administration this year. In January Deloitte partners Lee Manning, Matthew Smith and Neville Kahn were appointed as joint administrators, advised by CMS Cameron McKenna (16 January 2013).

The company was then acquired by private equity house Gordon Brothers, which owns TS Operations. HowardKennedyFSI partner Paul Glassberg led the firm’s team acting for Gordon Brothers (25 March 2013), and the firm continued to advise Blockbuster until the latest administration.

In a statement released on 29 October, Gordon Brothers said it had “striven to turn around the historically loss-making company by restructuring the business, investing significantly in strategic marketing activities and negotiating with the landlords of its retail outlets. The company also tried to develop a new digital platform but was unable to broker a licensing deal with Blockbuster UK’s parent company in the US.  Regrettably, the months since the acquisition have also coincided with a period of poor trading performance across both rental and retail sales”.

It added that the administration would lead to the loss of 32 jobs at Blockbuster’s head office, but stores would trade normally.

The administrators today said they encouraged customers to continue renting and buying videos and games from Blockbuster as normal. Thomas said: “We are pleased to say that there are parties who are interested in parts of the business. Our focus will be to secure a future for as much of the business as possible as well as trying to save jobs before Christmas.”

Grant and Spitz joined Locke Lord in early 2012 along with a group of partners from legacy Salans, who launched the US firm’s London office (7 November 2011). Hasan was recruited from Berwin Leighton Paisner a year ago (24 September 2012).

High street shoe retailer Barratts also went into administration today. It is not yet known which firm is acting for the joint administrators, Philip Duffy and David Whitehouse of Duff & Phelps.