The road to XBOX ONE. Follow the journey

Distributor profiles

Dominic Sacco
Distributor profiles

MCV offers an insight into each of the following video game distributors.

Koch Media

Established: 1994
Members of staff: 330 (around 66 in the UK)
Based: Basingstoke, Hampshire
Key territories: UK, Benelux, Nordic
Contact: 01256 385200
Website: www.kochmedia.co.uk

Koch has a lot more strings to its bows than a traditional distributor. The firm has its own publishing label, Deep Silver, and gaming accessories brand Blue Ocean.

But arguably the firm’s biggest shift was made last year when it entered the film market. As well as distributing DVDs to retailers, Koch has partnered with a number of firms to further cement itself in the world of movies.

“The synergy is clear,” says UK MD Craig McNicol. “We have sales and marketing services that film labels can take advantage of, and direct access to all of the key DVD stockists.

“We have additionally continued to build a strong partner network, working with the BBC, Fremantle and ITV where we represent them on a physical distribution basis.”

Koch has also seen some exciting new developments in its publishing division. Last month a trailer for zombie game Dead Island – published by the firm’s Deep Silver division – sparked debate across the world. It also publishes big licences such as Prison Break and Doctor Who titles.

“Dead Island is as far away from a licence as you can get,” adds McNicol.

“But as we also work for large corporations that require their licences to be on the market, we are the most experienced distributor for handling such valuable commodities.

“Our biggest challenge is to continue to remain visionary. We want to service the requirements of our partners.”

Gem Distribution

Established: 1984
Members of staff: 450+ (around 250 in the UK)
Based: Raunds, Altham, Northamptonshire, Harlow, Stoke, Hong Kong, Paris
Key territories: UK, Europe
Contact: 01279 822800
Website: www.gem.co.uk

After acquiring Trilogy Logistics and opening a new warehouse facility in Raunds last year, Gem is stronger than ever.

The company has its own logistics and in-house marketing departments as well as a gaming accessory brand – Exspect.

It has delivered a range of hit games and products to retail including Halo: Reach, Red Dead Redemption and most recently Xbox 360 Kinect, which has topped 8m sales worldwide.

But after these expansions, its always-strong relations with Microsoft and recent appointment of Alex Croft as group strategic development director, Gem says it’s focus now is to maintain a leading position.

“The most important aspect of our business, other than our people, is delivering and sustaining the highest possible levels of service to all of our suppliers and customers,” says Gem’s UK general manager Darren Houghton.

“In these difficult times we will continue to put a greater emphasis on delivering a broader range of products, as well as offering a diverse range of revenue stream opportunities for our customers.”

The firm emphasises the strength of the tailored solutions it provides its exclusive partners with.
“We work very hard for our exclusive partners, investing heavily to make sure that product launches are as successful as possible,” adds Houghton.

“Exclusive distribution has also allowed us to put in place street date agreements with our customers that have helped level the playing field for everyone concerned.”

Other benefits of choosing Gem include a single point of contact, enhanced marketing programmes to support new releases and an Xbox Portal for independent retailers which offers exclusive products, competitions, bundles and other promotions.

Realtime Distribution

Established: 1989
Members of staff: 120-plus
Based: Huntingdon, Warrington
Key territories: UK
Contact: 01480 435881
Website: www.realtimeonline.co.uk

Realtime Distribution has expanded heavily in the space of a year. The firm has increased its sales presence with six new positions while working on a range of impressive new products.

These include the high-end Razer-branded accessories which consist of the pro gaming Onza Xbox 360 controller, DeathAdder mouse and official StarCraft II Marauder keyboard, to name a few.

“Realtime has demonstrated the value that we see in the games market with additional staff, a growing product portfolio and stronger marketing presence,” says sales director Richard Marsden. “This investment has enabled us to develop in this area.

“Console accessories are a new area for Realtime and we are part way through a long-term plan. Our current portfolio has performed well, but the launch of the Razer Onza and Chimera will give us a better understanding of the consumer demand in this market.”

Realtime Distribution provides a bespoke stock management service to all of its customers, which it says is a significant part of its business.

“Our stock management service ensures that all our customers receive stock based on their run rates, that all of their products are listed correctly, that they are kept informed of new products and are helped to correctly set them up online,” adds Marsden.

Realtime is proud of the wide range of enthusiast gaming components and peripherals it provides, and plans to ensure this remains strong throughout 2011. The firm says products such as the TwistDock PS3 stand, charger and cable management system are ideal for indie retailers.

Creative Distribution

Established: June 2003
Members of staff: 45
Based: Croydon, Surrey
Key territories: UK, Europe
Contact: 020 8664 3456
Website: www.creativedistribution.co.uk

Creative Distribution supplies retailers with a huge assortment of games, consoles and accessories.

But far from being just another distributor, the firm publishes its own games and has a stake in Reef Entertainment. It also offers next day delivery and recently increased its warehousing by around 50 per cent to establish additional growth.

All of this has helped Creative to achieve record turnover of £68m in its latest fiscal year ending June 2010. And for this year the company hopes to introduces a warehouse management system, publish its first PS3 game and increase its DVD and Blu-ray offering.

“Having seen massive growth over the past few years, we are expanding both the services we offer and also expanding the product range to keep our existing customers satisfied and to attract new ones,” says Creative’s commercial director Craig Lewis.

Creative’s first published game is Real Heroes: Firefighter which hit stores last year on Wii. It followed this up by distributing the Reef-published game Sniper Elite, which has sold around 100,000 units to date.

Lewis adds: “Having a publishing company allows us to understand and become a part of another area of the video gaming industry. This is important to ensure we constantly grow and adapt to move with the times.”

The firm is also aiming high in years to come by increasing its product offering even further.

“Expansion is our goal this year,” says Lewis. “We aim to become an entertainment distributor able to offer a wide range of products and solutions in years to come.

“We’ve dabbled in DVD and Blu-ray products before, but we are taking this more seriously in 2011. We are also taking on new members of staff to expand our in-house knowledge and grow as quickly as possible in these areas.”

Interactive Ideas

Established: 1994
Members of staff: 54
Based: Enfield
Key territories: UK, EMEA
Contact: 020 8805 1000
Website: www.interactiveideas.com

With its impressive collection of boxed software and video game accessories, Interactive Ideas provides a complete service for both retailers and publishers.

The supplier has achieved an average growth rate of 40 per cent over the past four years, and is on target to post another 40 per cent increase when its financial year comes to a close at the end of April.

It has also hired 12 new members of staff over the past year to boost sales and maintain service levels.

“With this growth, along with our move just over a year ago to our new office and our ‘Specialist Distributor of the Year’ trophy at the PCR Awards 2010, it has been a very good year for us,” Interactive Ideas’ marketing manager Andrew Miles tells MCV.

“We have ambitious plans for the company and 2011 will see further employment opportunities created and expansion plans continued.”

Interactive Ideas distributes a range of games and accessories including Hubb, Turtle Beach and Thrustmaster peripherals – making them ideal for games retailers in search of margin makers.

“Gaming accessories are an important part of the wide selection of products we offer our customers and getting the right balance throughout our business is essential,” adds Miles. “All areas of our business play a vital part during the financial year.”

As peripherals are boxed-only products, unlike games, they don’t have to compete with the download market. There will always be space for accessories at retail.

“The High Street and digital distribution both complement each other and play a part in communicating to the consumer. With each new console that is released, new accessory designers emerge,” says Miles.

“We haven't seen any negative impact in our business so far and our sales of physical software and peripherals are up year-on-year.”

Sony DADC

Established: June 30th 2006
Members of staff: 200
Based: Enfield
Key territories: Worldwide (over 20,000 ship-to addresses and 50 clients servicing over 600 labels in the UK)
Contact: 01992 657700
Website: www.sonydadc.com

Already famous for producing PC and PlayStation games, as well as delivering DVDs and CDs, Sony DADC is now ramping up its game offering.

The firm – which distributes 66m products each year in the UK and Eire – has introduced the only in-house game manufacturing and distribution service based in the UK today, providing publishers and developers with a complete direct-to-retail offering.

For each retailer, Sony DADC promises high levels of customer service and dedicated account managers, as well as an offering that can be tailored to each client and customer. This, Sony DADC says, provides an exciting new alternative within the games distribution marketplace.

“Our vision is to be the preferred supply chain solution for the entertainment industry and we see games as critical in delivering our objective,” says Sony DADC’s general manager Darren Houghton (far above).

The firm has also partnered with publisher Mastertronic to offer a new games label. This aims to help smaller publishers increase sales and get their games in the right locations.

Sony DADC is proud of its direct-to-retail solution.
”Direct-to-retail is a unique offering that is going to grow and grow. It provides a significant cost-saving to content owner,” adds Rob Gross (above).

Sony DADC recently hired the former Midway man and industry veteran Gross to head up business development for games in the UK. Overall, Sony DADC has manufacturing and distribution facilities in 19 countries worldwide.

Meroncourt

Established: 1993
Members of staff: 13
Based: Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire
Key territories: UK
Contact: 01462 680060
Website: www.meroncourt.co.uk

Meroncourt is focused on supplying a huge variety of stock with no minimum order value and a dedicated account manager for all of its customers.

As well as providing games peripherals, hardware and toys, it also offers iPhone accessories, gadgets, stationery, chargers and licensed products. These feature popular properties Hello Kitty and Ben 10 which make ideal margin makers.

The company has also expanded over the past 12 months and hopes to continue to this year.

Meroncourt’s sales director Steve Walsh tells MCV: “We have expanded at a slower rate than previous years due to the financial situation in 2010. We hope to push back to traditional rates for 2011.

“Our biggest achievement this year has been moving onto the licensed digital toy market with great success.”

The digital toys it distributes include the Hello Kitty seven-inch digital photo frame, which allows consumers to display digital images such as JPG files on a portable LCD screen.

Meroncourt has seen fresh demand for budget and casual products, and is increasing its range to suit.

“The gaming accessory market is one of our most important sales areas,” adds Walsh. “It continues to show growth especially now we are bringing in ranges aimed towards the entry level, first time buyer market and not just the very high-end function rich brands.

“The biggest change over the past 12 months has been the extreme caution that many of our customers have shown to risk, buying smaller amounts more often, sticking with known products and a reluctance to try new ideas.

“My hopes for 2011 are to see the gaming sector moving ahead without the restrictions on finance. I also personally hope for Meroncourt to see dramatic growth into some new sectors that we are looking at just now.”

AntiGrav

Established: 2008
Members of staff: 12 full-time with temporary staff drafted in at peak times
Based: Chertsey, Surrey
Key territories: UK
Contact: 01932 454929
Website:
www.antigrav-media.co.uk

AntiGrav has one of the biggest collections of game peripherals available to order today, with over 2,000 product lines across 20 different vendors.

This includes licensed products featuring branding from Mario, Sonic, Ferrari and more. Peripherals include PowerA DS starter kits, Thrustmaster steering wheels, Orb headsets, Venom battery packs and Polaroid Wii Remotes.

“Our product ranges include unique and innovative lines with licensed accessories from some of the most recognisable global brands,” says AntiGrav’s sales director Robert Orchard.

“Our service is taliored to meet the requirements of each individual customer from drop shipping through to bulk FOB supply.”

This huge accessory range combined with its bespoke service has helped AntiGrav increase both its supplier base and customer portfolio over the past year.

“In what has been a tough past year, manufacturers have been looking to increase their retail penetration whilst retailers have been looking to consolidate the number of suppliers they have to deal with but still maintain their in-store offer,” adds Orchard.

“As a ‘one stop shop’ for over 20 accessories brands, we have been able to provide a solution for both retailers and manufacturers alike.”

AntiGrav also plans to expand into the iPhone and iPad accessories market following the huge success of those handheld platforms over the past few years. Meanwhile, it is confident that new hardware launches such as the 3DS will help boost sales for both manufacturers and retailers.

“We are hopeful that 3DS will deliver some great add-on sales from launch through to Christmas. “And this, coupled with the growing demand for accessory-based gaming, will help to deliver yet another successful 12 months for AntiGrav.”

Impact Global Solutions

Established: 2000
Members of staff: 15
Based: Exeter, Hong Kong
Key territories: UK, Europe, Dubai, Australia
Contact: 0845 600 1676
Website:
http://igs-group.com/

With its own range of Game On accessories, licensed products and merchandise, Impact Global Solutions offers many margin makers at affordable prices.

The firm distributes the official Sony-licensed LittleBigPlanet 2 and Raving Rabbids line of products including key rings, plush toys, mugs, bags, wobble heads and more. But the big licensed property it picked up is from a galaxy far, far away.

Its new Star Wars products come in the form of 3D lenticular cases and accessory packs for the upcoming Nintendo 3DS. The former include a cleaning cloth, stylus and wrist strap and feature iconic imagery of Darth Vader, Yoda and more. They also come with an affordable RRP of £12.99.

“These licensed products make for strong impulse purchases with good retail price points,” says divisional sales director Chris Malone.

“By being affordable these create an increase in margin for retailers. Stores can make more money on a £10 plush doll than they can on a new game which sells at £39. Accessories have a much higher margin.”

IGS has doubled its business in the past 12 months in terms of both units and value. It claims it is one of the leading firms that deals with third party peripherals.

The firm also offers audio accessories such as small speakers which can be plugged into game devices such as the DS. And by manufacturing and distributing the products, retailers can use IGS as a one-stop destination for leading peripherals.

Throughout 2011 and beyond IGS aims to add even more top licensed properties to its portfolio.

“We want to create more multiformat products in the Game On range, for example headsets that work across all formats,” adds Malone. “This adds value to retailers who don’t have much space for separate format SKUs in store.”

Bright Red Entertainment

Established: 2000
Members of staff: 10
Based: Milton Keynes
Key territories: UK, Europe, PAL markets
Contact: 01908 582477
Website: www.reddist.co.uk

Who says garden centres only have to stock plants and pots? Bright Red Entertainment certainly don’t – the distributor has just finished its trail of stocking games in non-specialist outlets.

It launched a pallet Game Depot display concept in petrol stations, garden centres and newsagents last year.

Following its success with the trial it is now finalising deals with two large retail chains and one big-name petrol station, which will see its Game Depot branded FSDUs shipped to 250 store fronts for Easter and beyond.

Bright Red Entertainment offers tailor-made value triple packs for retailers and supplies UK and European stores with products for campaigns, promotions and bundles. It has also recently taken on two new members of staff to help cover purchasing and increased workload in the warehouse.

The firm says its success comes down to its strong relationships and innovation.

“We have grown our business naturally by maintaining our excellent relationships with UK publishers,” says commercial director Mark Williams.

“We’re also launching our Game Depot concept, supplying our triple pack solution into key UK retailers, signing up the prestigious Shure range of headphones and earphones, as well as continuing our long standing overstocks and clearance business.”

Bright Red Entertainment is aware of the greater need for retailers to supply customers with a wider range of products to maximise revenue – something it says it can provide. Over the next few months the distributor hopes to continue its steady growth by offering new innovative ideas to clients.

“We hope to continue our year-on-year growth by offering our customer base low-cost high-revenue opportunities. We are looking to evolve our business to meet our customers’ needs.”

United Software Distribution

Established: 2005
Members of staff: 8
Based: Wellingborough, Milton and Sywell
Key territories: UK, US, Europe, Australia
Contact: 01933 227220
Website: www.usdlimited.com

With over 100,000 units of stock and more than 20 years of sales experience, United Software Distribution has built a sold and dependable business.

The firm specialises in PC games distribution but also buys and sells all back catalogue console games as well as offering closeouts. It also sells into several big-name retailers including GAME, GameStop, HMV and Morrisons.

Director Dave Cotton says USD’s integrity and personal touch makes it stand out.

“In my opinion economics dictates that added value comes in the form of honesty, integrity, reputation and attention to detail,” he tells MCV.

“Existing customers can trust us to deliver what we say we can in a speedy and efficient way. And all potential new customers can expect that very same service and personal touch.”

The firm has grown its customer base and supplier base this year after introducing a bespoke online office. It also hired two new members of staff.

One of the notable changes USD has identified in recent years is the explosion of casual games – something it says plenty of retailers are currently missing out on.

Cotton adds: “Undoubtedly casual games now represent a growing sector of our market.

“It’s almost like a ‘silent sector’ which only a few retailers to their credit have embraced – and they are seeing the benefits.

“I often wonder why so many buyers almost refuse to accept the existence of the 35-year-old to 45-year-old demographic who have more disposable income than the rest put together.”

USD saw great success with a certain casual PC hidden object game – Deadtime Stories – which has now sold in excess of 10,000 units.

“More titles like this will be appearing from USD this year, so don’t miss out this time,” says Cotton.

A Game Distribution

Founded: 2009
Members of staff: 2
Based: London
Key territories: UK, Europe
Contact: 020 7016 7777
Website:  www.agamedistribution.com

After setting up in October, A Game Distribution has achieved constant month-on-month growth thanks to its competitive pricing and cost-effective promotions.

It distributes games, accessories and consoles and offers white label logistics for any store or promoter in Europe.
In January the firm introduced a ‘Day Three Delivery’ offer exclusive to independent retailers, which promises a better price on any new triple-A title delivered on the third day after its release.

Customers who spent more than £4,000 with the firm in February received a top-of-the-range console. This was either a 250GB Xbox 360 with Kinect, a 320GB PS3 with Move or a 3DS with Rayman 3D.

And this month A Game Distribution introduced its ‘Complete A Game’ promotion where the final game in any carton is free. For example if the retailer orders 14 PS3 games they get the 15th free.

“We are focused on providing the best deals to indies,” says operations director Adam Harris.

The firm primarily focuses on triple-A new releases, but also encourages its customers to let A Game Distribution assist in sourcing hard-to-find and discontinued SKUs.
Harris also guarantees to provide the levels of stock required to run a successful game campaign.

In a market that is becoming increasingly competitive – particularly to independent retailers – A Game Distribution offers them a new cost-effective solution with regular deals and promotions via its mailing list.

Later this month A Game Distribution will launch a full service website for existing customers with live stock updates, allocations, ordering and delivery tracking. It also hopes to expand over the next few years and will open additional warehousing later in 2011.

Ideal Software

Founded: 1993
Members of staff: Small team
Based: Bedfordshire
Key territories: Global
Contact: 01767 689720
Website:  www.idealsoftware.net

From the latest game releases to budget PC titles, controllers and memory cards, Ideal Software provides a complete service.

Since it was established in 1993 the firm has grown 1,000 different product lines of physical stock and has built a strong reputation within the industry. It has also grown around 12 per cent year-on-year.

The company offers a variety of official gaming accessories as well as Logic 3 products which complement the software it supplies as ideal margin makers.

Owner Paul Williams is a firm believer of open distribution, which allows multiple firms to distribute the same product to market.

Ideal Software also boasts seasonal opening hours, guaranteed next working day delivery and friendly customer services, putting the company in good stead for the year ahead.

Keyne Distribution

Founded: 2002
Members of staff: 7
Based: Milton Keynes
Key territories: Europe, Asia, South Africa, Australia
Contact: 01908 821047
david@keynedistribution.co.uk
Website:  www.keynedistribution.co.uk

Over the last 12 months Keyne Distribution has expanded into several new territories and is increasing its product range.

The firm has been in business for over eight years and prides itself on building friendly relationships with its range of customers including a number of independent stores. It distributes new releases including plenty of triple-A titles and offers next-day delivery.

David Jones from Keyne’s export sales division tells MCV: “Our biggest challenge is to keep our customers happy and try to make money at the same time.

“We find customers like to have a choice when they buy their stock.”

Over the coming year Keyne Distribution hopes to continue offering competitive prices and excellent levels of service to all its customers, while looking into other revenue streams.

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