BLOCKBUSTER'S NEW EXECUTIVES PLOT INT'L GROWTH

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Blockbuster Entertainment Group is shaking up its executive ranks to facilitate international expansion.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based subsidiary of Viacom named Gerry Geddis to president-worldwide operations, overseeing domestic and international video and music, from president-video. President-International Video Ramon Martin-Busutil and President-Music Gerry Weber resigned.

Succeeding Mr. Geddis is Scott Barrett, formerly senior VP-operations/video. The new president-music is Jerry Comstock, formerly senior VP-operations/music.

"The company is beginning to look at the brand from a more global focus," said a Blockbuster executive. "We're just pulling it all together under one umbrella."

This executive says the moves won't affect the company's relationship with D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, St. Louis, Blockbuster Video's domestic agency. DMB&B's creative work in the past has come under fire from franchisees.

Industry observers say the effects of the changes remain to be seen.

This July, Blockbuster's $35 million music account was awarded to Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago. DMB&B declined to participate.

A variety of agencies-not including DMB&B-handle Blockbuster's international work.

With more than half the world's VCRs outside the U.S., Blockbuster sees growing potential in the global arena.

Blockbuster operates more than 4,100 stores, 1,000 of which are outside the U.S. Currently, there are 670 outlets in the U.K., another 200 in Canada and more than 100 in Latin America.

The company plans to open 235 new stores internationally in 1995. Through '96, 142 more openings are planned for Asia, in such places as Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Blockbuster Video's growth potential abroad exceeds domestic prospects, said Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research, a Carmel Valley, Calif., media consultancy.

Latin America, Africa, Australia and Southeast Asia remain in need of new store development, he said, and that's where the company is focusing.

"They're so big here that they can't continue to drive the 30%, year-over-year revenue gains that they were driving in the early '90s," he said. "If they were an independent stock, they'd be up on this kind of news, because it shows they're focusing in on their core growth-prospect area, which is the overseas market."

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