Xtra-vision to trial kiosks for renting movies and games
XTRA-Vision vending machines for renting movies and games are likely to be rolled out within the next two months. UK turnaround specialist Hilco, which bought the rental chain after it went into receivership earlier this year, is to trial 20 machines to gauge the market.
The company is in negotiations with supermarket chains to roll out the venture within the next six to eight weeks.
Hilco said the move, along with the possibility of a video-on-demand service, would, if successful, future-proof the business and secure jobs.
The company, headed up by Belfast man Paul McGowan, bought 89 Xtra Vision stores in June, throwing a lifeline to the company's 800 staff here.
Mr McGowan told the Irish Independent that the vending machine concept is the logical next step for the rental market.
"As the rental market gets smaller, you're still paying the rent and you're still paying everything else, so the logical next move is to find a different way of doing it," he said. We'll look at finding new places around the country where we're not represented."
Founded in 1979 by Richard Murphy, Xtra Vision is one of the best-known brands in the country.
It had over 400,000 customers but had fallen on hard times because of weak consumer spending and an explosion in internet streaming and downloading.
Hilco said that the first rental under the vending machine concept is free, while a rental after that will be €2.99.
The idea is based on Redbox, a rental concept using kiosks that are based in supermarkets and pharmacies in the US and Canada. There are over 42,000 kiosks in over 34,000 locations.
As well as the 89 Irish stores, Hilco is looking at possibly taking on a number of other closed outlets within the Xtra Vision brand subject to securing favourable deals with landlords.
This is Hilco's latest venture into the retail business in Ireland. It has already taken over HMV's business here, as well as in the UK and Canada.