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|The Game Group plc|
|Traded as||LSE: GMD|
|Headquarters||Basingstoke, United Kingdom|
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. Game subsequently entered administration on 26 March 2012, and was purchased by OpCapita the following week. Baker Acquisitions was subsequently renamed Game Retail Ltd.
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.
The company that went on to become Game was founded by Bev Ripley and Terry Norris as Rhino Group in 1991, with stores branded as Future Zone. A year earlier in 1990, a separate company, called Game, was founded by Peter Wickins and Neil Taylor. Rhino Group acquired Virgin Games Stores from W H Smith in 1993, increasing the total number of stores to 77.
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. 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. At the time of the takeover Game had 86 stores. Electronics Boutique Limited went on to purchase the BarrysWorld online gaming service in 2001, the French retailer ScoreGames in 2001, and the Spanish retailer Centro Mail also in 2001.
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.
In July 2004, the Game group acquired Gameplay (GB) Limited, an online and mail order retailer of video games, computer software and associated products. Gameplay (GB) Ltd started trading as Game.co.uk, the group's main online arm in the UK.
In September 2006, Game acquired Australian speciality video games retailer Gameswizards for A$3.8 million and rebranded all Gameswizards outlets as Game stores. 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.
On 21 April 2010, Lisa Morgan stepped down as CEO, to be replaced by Chris Bell as interim CEO. On 17 June 2010, it was announced that Ian Shepherd had been appointed as CEO, and took up the position on 28 June.
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. This affected the pre-orders of Mass Effect 3, due out the following week. 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.
In early March 2012 Game and Gamestation began heavily discounting stock in an attempt to bring in cash ahead of administration.
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. The offer was rejected by Game's lenders.
The company entered administration on 26 March 2012, 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.
On 14 May 2012, TGW Pty Ltd, trading as Game Australia announced it would also enter administration. On 25 May 2012, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the administrators of Game Australia made 264 staff redundant and closed 60 stores. An expected further round of redundancies and closures 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.
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.
As of 2 April 2013, Game has 328 stores in the United Kingdom. Stores traded under the Game and Gamestation brands until the latter was replaced by Game from November 2012. 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.
Internationally, Game has operations in Spain and Portugal. Nordic Games uses the Game brand under licence in Sweden and Norway.
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- "Terms and conditions". Game. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
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