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Telus to shut down all 59 Blacks outlets by August

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Telus had been closing stores since buying the chain’s 113 outlets for C$28 million in 2009 to expand its platform for telephone products after BCE Inc. bought The Source chain of electronics stores. Telus has 160 retail outlets of its own.

Telus (TSE:T), Canada’s third-biggest wireless carrier, is closing its chain of Blacks Photo Corp. retail photography stores, saying it wasn’t able to make a profit.

“Technological innovations have changed the way Canadians take and share photographs, with fewer of us using retail photo outlets,” the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company said in an e-mailed statement today.

“Despite the positive momentum and financial improvements our Blacks team has delivered over the last year, we have been unable to realize profitable growth and it would take considerable investment to adapt Blacks to ongoing change,” Telus spokesperson Luiza Staniec said in the statement.

All 59 of the chain’s stores will close, effective August 8.

Telus had been closing stores since buying the chain’s 113 outlets for C$28 million in 2009 to expand its platform for telephone products after BCE Inc. bought The Source chain of electronics stores. Telus has 160 retail outlets of its own.

Canada’s biggest wireless companies have competed for more retail space over the past six years as the federal government tried to increase competition by supporting smaller companies like Wind Mobile and Mobilicity. 

Last year, BCE paid C$670 million for smartphone retailer Glentel Inc. and sold a 50 percent stake in the company to Rogers Communications Inc.

The shut-down of the remaining stores, most of them in Ontario, will leave 485 employees without jobs, but Telus will try to find them positions at its Telus and Koodo mobile phone outlets, Staniec said.

Blacks was founded in 1939 when Eddie Black opened a camera store in Toronto. He sold the store to his sons, who expanded the Blacks chain across the country in the 1960s before selling. They grew the camera chain to 100 outlets and in 1977, revolutionized the photo print industry when they became the first retailed to offer larger 4x6 prints, instead of the standard 3.5x5. The new print size immediately caught on with consumers, forcing Blacks’ competitors to eventually increase their print size as well.

Blacks was sold in 1985 for $100 million to Scott's Hospitality Inc. In 1993, Fuji Film bought the chain’s 210 stores for $65 million, before Telus bought the retailer in 2009.

Telus said it was not able to find a buyer for the chain.

Telus will report the financial consequences of shutting down Blacks in its next quarterly results release, expected in August.


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