The Blockbuster brand has all but disappeared from the half dozen or more countries in which it operated, and the same will soon go for its Mexico operations.
The video rental service, which had more than 9,000 outlets and 60,000 employees worldwide at its peak in 2004, failed to see a technological shift coming its way. Netflix and other online streaming services have since taken over the movie rental market.
In Mexico, businessman Ricardo Salinas Pliego, through Grupo Elektra, picked up Blockbuster’s assets in January 2014. Elektra has since closed 64 of the 327 outlets it bought, leaving the remainder to become The B-Store, Films & Games, catering more to the sale of electronics such as tablets and video games than renting movies. Banking, too, will also be on offer.
The Blockbuster stores currently have about 70% of their floor space dedicated to video rentals. That figure will be reduced to less than 20% once the switch has been made.
That switch has already begun in the state of Puebla, where the 15 outlets are now operating under the new name.
The B-Store will compete with stores such as Radio Shack, Best Buy, Mix Up and CompuDabo.
Aanalysts say Blockbuster’s attraction for Salinas wasn’t the inventory of movies but the real estate the stores occupied.
Located in 108 cities, the stores for the most part are in middle-class areas, which is also the target market for Salinas’ new financial endeavor, Acertum Bank.
Branches of the new institution, a division of Banco Azteca whose launch began earlier this year, will be located within or next to B-Stores, going after a higher socioeconomic level than that targeted by Azteca itself.
Setting up the new bank has been reported as a priority for Banco Azteca’s new general manager, Alejandro Valenzuela, who had the same title at Grupo Financiero Banorte until late last year.
The first Acertum Bank outlets will operate in Blockbuster/B-Stores in the state of Querétaro.
A company spokesman said it will offer high-tech services that clients can access from any electronic device without having to visit a branch.
Source: CNNExpansión (sp)