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High Street SOS: Asda, GAME and indies plot games retail rescue

Christopher Dring
High Street SOS: Asda, GAME and indies plot games retail rescue

Major retailers have pledged to fill the gap left by Blockbuster and HMV.

UK publishers told MCV that they’re concerned by the lack of games retailers on the High Street. But we can reveal that chains and indies will open new outlets to plug the hole on the High Street.

Indie chains Games Centre, Chips and Xpress Games will open new stores this year. GAME is also eyeing new locations, while Asda is introducing games into its local supermarkets.

“We’re always reviewing our property portfolio based on what is available – that’s one of the ways we can make sure we’re appropriately represented,” said GAME stores director Dave Howard. “Where there are potential opportunities, we will move quickly to look into them.”

Asda’s games boss Craig Thirkell added: “As access to the product closes down, the local neighbourhood supermarket format will become increasingly more important to the customer, publishers and Asda.”

WH Smith is also making tentative steps back into entertainment. It stocked PS3 and Wonderbook over Christmas, and has started selling DVDs and music again.

According to Chart-Track, 464 games retailers closed last year (mostly from the High Street) leaving 6,180 stores. And that figure doesn’t include the closures at HMV and Blockbuster.

Sony UK chief Fergal Gara told MCV last week that “there is more work to do to make sure the retail base is strong enough”.

Codemasters chief Rod Cousens said: “The High Street cannot be left to erode. It is a social hub. They have to become destinations and experiences and music, games, movies, dance, fashion and so on, have a role to play. It is the reason why the music business is trying to support HMV. The industry needs to support each other and alongside digital build a bigger and growing global community and environment.”

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Tags: GAME , Retail , video games , asda , indies , comeback

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