Lisa Morgan: We’ve expanded rapidly in the last few years. You’ve got to remember that when PS2 launched, we had something like 411 stores, all in the UK and Ireland. To now have around 1,100 stores across all of these different markets is a dramatic transformation.
David Thomas: If you look at where we are now, we’re at just under 1,100 stores, and we’re going to continue to open stores particularly in Iberia and in Australia – that’s where we see the greatest growth opportunities. We also see some growth of the Gamestation brand in the UK. The US markeplace is not one that GAME has looked at.
And what of the Gamestation acquisition? What’s the latest on the Competition Commission investigation?
DT: When we completed the acquisition we said at the time that the integration would take place around Q2 2008, so we’ve always recognised that, given the key importance of the Christmas period, that we wouldn’t be able to start the integration until 2008.
Our undertakings with the Competition Commission mean that any detailed planning regards integration is very much on hold. We see GAME and Gamestation as two separate brands we will continue to operate separately on the High Street. What we will be loooking to do is to take advantage of GAME’s infrastructure to allow Gamestation to leverage its business on that.
LM: We will, of course, do everything in our power to entice as many of the Gamestation team to join GAME Group and help us to move forward. We’re very confident. Right from the off we’ve got a very clear case and good evidence to support it.
The bulk of our investment is in the GAME brand, although we are opening stores in the UK. But taking the GAME brand on an international scale has been our focus. Over and above that we are also investing in our online-strategy and improving upon our whole offer.
What are your thoughts on the forthcoming peak period?
LM: There’s a line-up of software all the way through to December that’s really strong and on a whole range of formats – I think what’s really interesting about the release schedule is that there’s such a broad range of product to appeal to all types of consumers – so you’ve got your Halo 3s to appeal to the core gamers, but then you’ve got other products like High School Musical and The Simpsons that have huge family appeal.
There aren’t really any formats we’re not confident in. The key is that we want to be the best positioned on the High Street with all of the hardware available in-store, so we can look after our customers. I would say we’re really pleased with everything at the moment.
How are you planning to improve your position online?
LM: There’s no doubt that the online environment is competitive and that Amazon and Play are by far the market leaders, and they lead on price. We feel that we can really focus on an online specialist offering, so the differnce between ourselves and the aforementioned is that we are really trying to intregrate online with our store offer.
So, for example, we’re offering a facility for customers to order online and pick up in store, and they can also go online and access their GAME reward card accounts. So we’re looking to improve overall. I think there is still plenty of opportunity for us to come in with our offer.