Game (retailer)

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Game Digital plc
Formerly called The Game Group plc
Type Public
Traded as LSEGMD
Founder(s) Terry Norris
Bev Ripley
Headquarters Basingstoke, United Kingdom
Key people David Hamid
(Chairman)
Martyn Gibbs
(CEO)
Products Game consoles
Video games
Accessories
Mobile phones
Owner(s) OpCapita
(2012-2014)
Independent
(1999-2012; 2014-present)
Website www.gamedigitalplc.com

Game Digital plc (formerly The Game Group plc[1]; usually known by its high street name Game and stylised as GAME) is a British video games retail company.

The company's origins lie in the founding of the Rhino Group by Terry Norris and Bev Ripley in 1991. A number of mergers and acquisitions followed during the 1990s, and in 1999, the company was purchased by Electronics Boutique Limited, which rebranded itself as The Game Group. The company continued to expand during the 2000s, purchasing several retailers including Gameswizards in Australia.

In March 2012, several suppliers, including Nintendo, Electronic Arts and Capcom refused to supply their latest products due to concerns over Game's creditworthiness.[2][3] Game subsequently entered administration on 26 March 2012,[4] and was purchased by Baker Acquisitions, a subsidiary of OpCapita the following week.[5] Baker Acquisitions was subsequently renamed Game Retail Ltd.[6]

The company operated in the United Kingdom under the Game and Gamestation brands from the acquisition of the latter in May 2007 until late-2012, when it was announced that the business would focus solely on the Game brand. In 2014, the company announced plans to relist on the London Stock Exchange.[7]

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

The company that went on to become Game was founded by Bev Ripley and Terry Norris as Rhino Group in 1991.[8] with stores branded as Future Zone. A year earlier in 1990, a separate company, called Game, was founded by Peter Wickins and Neil Taylor.[9] Rhino Group acquired Virgin Games Stores from W H Smith in 1993, increasing the total number of stores to 77.[10]

In 1995, the gaming retailer Electronics Boutique acquired 25% of the Rhino Group, the name of which was changed to Electronics Boutique Limited under license from the US business, and John Steinbrecher was sent from the USA to manage the chain.[11] The name of the retail outlets were also renamed from "Future Zone" to "Electronics Boutique". In 1999, Electronics Boutique Limited purchased a chain of retail outlets known as Game, from which the current name of the company was derived, for £99 million.[12] At the time of the takeover Game had 86 stores.[9] Electronics Boutique Limited went on to purchase the BarrysWorld online gaming service in 2001,[13] the French retailer ScoreGames in 2001,[14] and the Spanish retailer Centro Mail also in 2001.[15]

Game shop in Umeå, Sweden.

In 2002, Electronics Boutique stores in the UK and Ireland were rebranded as Game, and the company name was changed to The Game Group. Despite the name change, a 1% sales royalty to Electronics Boutique in the United States continued to be paid until January 2006. Attempts to have this overturned in court in 2003 were unsuccessful.[16]

In July 2004, the Game group acquired Gameplay (GB) Limited, an online and mail order retailer of video games, computer software and associated products.[17] Gameplay (GB) Ltd started trading as Game.co.uk, the group's main online arm in the UK.[18]

In September 2006, Game acquired Australian speciality video games retailer Gameswizards for A$3.8 million and rebranded all Gameswizards outlets as Game stores.[19] Under the ownership of Game, the company followed the aggressive growth strategy of its UK parent and by 2007 had grown to 49 stores nationwide. The growth continued to 118 stores by 2009. Management changes in 2010 saw the number of stores reduced by 26.

In May 2007, the company announced the acquisition of rival UK specialist video game chain Gamestation for £74 million. The company stated that they intended to retain the brand.[20]

On 21 April 2010, Lisa Morgan stepped down as CEO, to be replaced by Chris Bell as interim CEO.[21] On 17 June 2010, it was announced that Ian Shepherd had been appointed as CEO, and took up the position on 28 June.[22]

Financial problems[edit]

On 29 February 2012 it was announced that both Game and Gamestation would no longer stock new titles from Electronic Arts. This was due to the major games distributor limiting Game's credit terms.[23] This affected the pre-orders of Mass Effect 3, due out the following week.[24] On 5 March 2012 it was announced that Game and Gamestation stores would not be stocking titles by Capcom. The first title affected by the move was Street Fighter X Tekken. Customers who pre-ordered the special edition from either store were refunded.[25]

In early March 2012 Game and Gamestation began heavily discounting stock in an attempt to bring in cash ahead of administration.[26]

On 14 March 2012, OpCapita made an unsuccessful bid for the company. The business had been in talks with Game's lenders with the aim of buying its debt and settling its bills with suppliers in full.[27] The offer was rejected by Game's lenders.[28]

Microsoft and Activision ceased the supply of their products to Game on 15 March.[29] On 19 March, the company's shares were suspended from the London Stock Exchange at its own request.[30]

Administration[edit]

One of 277 Game stores closed by administrators on 26 March 2012
Game on the Headrow in Leeds (2013).

The company entered administration on 26 March, with PricewaterhouseCoopers appointed and Ian Shepherd stepping down as CEO. No administrator was appointed for the stores in Ireland and redundancies were only offered to UK staff, resulting in a continuing protest from Irish staff. 277 of Game's 609 UK stores were closed immediately, resulting in 2,104 job losses.[31][32]

On 31 March Game Group was purchased out of administration by OpCapita.[5] David Hamid was announced as the new executive chairman of Game.[33]

On 14 May, TGW Pty Ltd, trading as Game Australia announced it would also enter administration.[34] On 25 May, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the administrators of Game Australia made 264 staff redundant and closed 60 stores. An expected further round of redundancies and closures[35] was confirmed on 19 June 2012 when the administrators announced that 16 of the remaining 31 stores would close that day and the remaining 15 would close over the coming weeks, marking the end of Game Australia.[36][37]

Game's Scandinavian operations were purchased by Nordic Games at the end of May 2012. Nordic Games purchased 55 stores (44 in Sweden and 11 in Norway) and Game's Scandinavian website, and also have a licensing deal that allows continued use of the Game brand.[38]

Operations[edit]

As of 2 April 2013, Game has 328 stores in the United Kingdom.[39] Stores traded under the Game and Gamestation brands until the latter was replaced by Game from November 2012.[40] Stores sell games for all major video game platforms. Games are also sold under a 'preowned' label, where a customer has returned a used game for cash or credit. The company also operates a transactional website, Game.co.uk.[41]

Internationally, Game has operations in Spain and Portugal. Nordic Games uses the Game brand under licence in Sweden and Norway.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.answers.com/topic/the-game-group-plc
  2. ^ James Thompson (13 March 2012). "Game on the brink after it says shares may have no value – Business News – Business". The Independent (London). Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "Game Group hit as some suppliers refuse to do business". BBC News. 13 March 2012. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "PricewaterhouseCoopers Media Centre – The GAME Group plc, Game Stores Group Limited, Gameplay (GB) Limited, Game (Stores) Limited, Games Station Limited, Game (retail) Limited, Gamestation Limited – in administration". PricewaterhouseCoopers. 26 March 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Investment capital firm set to rescue Game". BBC News. 31 March 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Katherine Rushton (12 May 2012). "Game's flagship store threatened with closure". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Rose, Mike (19 May 2014). "UK retailer Game files for $672 million IPO". Gamasutra. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  8. ^ City File: Bev Ripley The Independent, 18 October 1992
  9. ^ a b Barrie, Chris (13 April 1990). "Software retailer raises its Game with takeover". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 1 April 2010. 
  10. ^ "Our History". Game Group plc. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2010. 
  11. ^ Good at Games The Independent, 13 June 2009
  12. ^ "Electronic Boutique". The Guardian (London). 2 December 1999. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  13. ^ Loney, Matt (27 February 2001). "Electronic Boutique buys BarrysWorld". News.zdnet.co.uk. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  14. ^ "Electronics Boutique in French buy". This is Money. 7 October 2001. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  15. ^ "Gameplay". UK Business Park. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  16. ^ "Game loses EB royalty case". The Register. 28 February 2003. 
  17. ^ "GAME to close Gameplay.co.uk and 35 stores". MCV. 22 February 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  18. ^ "Gameplay (GB) Ltd. trading as Game.co.uk (Copyright notice)". Game.co.uk. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  19. ^ Ramsay, Randolph (20 September 2006). "Games Wizards sold to UK company". Cnet.com.au. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  20. ^ Rob Burman (2 May 2007). "Game buys GameStation for £74m". IGN. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  21. ^ Wearden, Graeme (21 April 2010). "Game Group chief executive Lisa Morgan departs". The Guardian. 
  22. ^ James Davey (17 June 2010). "Game warns on profit, names new CEO". Reuters. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  23. ^ "Game falls out with EA". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  24. ^ "Mass Effect 3". GAME. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  25. ^ Dring, Christopher (16 March 2012). "GAME not stocking Street Fighter X Tekken and Asura's Wrath | Games industry MCV". Mcvuk.com. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  26. ^ Yin, Wesley (7 March 2012). "GAME and Gamestation having a "firesale" on pre-owned stock • News •". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  27. ^ Wood, Zoe (15 March 2012). "Game in talks over possible rescue deal". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 15 March 2012. 
  28. ^ Parfitt, Ben (16 March 2012). "Lenders shun OpCapita's GAME rescue bid | Games industry MCV". Mcvuk.com. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  29. ^ Chalk, Andy (15 March 2012). "GAME Loses Microsoft and Activision, But Sony Sticks Around". The Escapist. Retrieved 15 March 2012. 
  30. ^ French, Michael (16 March 2012). "GAME Group delisted from London Stock Exchange | Games industry MCV". Mcvuk.com. Retrieved 21 March 2012. 
  31. ^ "Game Group goes into administration, closing 277 stores". BBC News. 26 March 2012. 
  32. ^ "Game workers in Ireland continue protests in pursuit of redundancy entitlements". RTÉ News. 28 March 2012. 
  33. ^ Ben Parfitt (1 April 2012). "David Hamid becomes new GAME exec chairman". MCV. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  34. ^ "GAME Australia Goes Into Administration – TheGamersPad". Thegamerspad.net. 14 May 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  35. ^ "GAME Australia lay-offs begin, 60 stores closed". VG247. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  36. ^ Hillier, Brenna (19 June 2012). "All GAME Australia outlets to close". vg247.com. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  37. ^ http://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/game-australia-enters-liquidation/098447
  38. ^ Tweet (31 May 2012). "Publisher Nordic Games buys GAME's Scandinavian business | GamesIndustry International". Gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  39. ^ Helia Ebrahimi (2 April 2012). "OpCapita pays £50m for 333 Game stores". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  40. ^ Christopher Dring (14 September 2012). "New GAME will feature 'the best of Gamestation'". MCV. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  41. ^ "Terms and conditions". Game. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 

External links[edit]