Grainger Games is subverting expectations and transforming itself into a serious games brand by hiring retail veterans. MCV speaks to the new-look senior management team to find out what comes next.
You have secured some retail veterans from not just Gamestation and HMV, but also Holland & Barrett and Asda. What are the advantages of hiring outside of games?
Stephen Bowyer, MD: The management team has significant retail experience from a broad range of categories that will deliver fresh approaches to the challenges and opportunities that present themselves during the ongoing growth of Grainger Games.
Mark [Blundell, finance and logistics director, formerly Asda finance director] and Simon [Peck, commercial director and former HMV commercial director] will bring a fresh approach to our business and their expertise will be invaluable going forward as we continue to evolve from our beginnings as a small independent into a recognisable High Street brand.
Do you think these hires will change how Grainger games is viewed by the wider market?
Phil Moore, sales director: All of the team at Grainger Games are focused on growing the business profitably and on successfully developing the brand. Having the full management team in place will hopefully mean that the wider market clearly understands what the business is planning to achieve.
Simon and Mark, how have you found working for Grainger so far?
Mark Blundell, finance and logistics director: When I first met Steve and Phil I was sold by their passion and enthusiasm for the business. I was also amazed by the pace at which things got done and were moved forward. Everything I have experienced since joining reaffirms that initial view.
Simon Peck, commercial director: Having spent a few weeks in my new role, I can honestly say that when it comes to pace and consistency the team at Grainger have incredible capacity. The culture here is very much about passion, honesty, commerciality and enjoying turning up for work.
Clearly there are some truly big opportunities within this year’s Q4 schedule, which we will continue to maximise in-store and online. I spent 20 years at HMV, and I’m delighted now to have found a group of people at that I know can deliver exceptional results going forwards.
UK games retail is saturated, how do you compete in such a market?
Moore: Grainger does operate in a highly saturated market and we are now firmly placed as a strong, growing brand within this market. The crowded nature of the market keeps us focused on our number one priority, which is our customers. We are constantly working to deliver the best value proposition on the High Street and as an example of this we recently launched our ‘highest cash and trade in town’ offer which gives unbeatable trade-in value and helps customers stretch their disposable income.
There are prime retail locations available across the UK, how long will it be before Grainger Games becomes a ‘true’ national chain?
Bowyer: Grainger Games has more than doubled in size over the last 12 months and we have no shortage of locations to consider. We’re expanding at a pace that’s right for the business and the economic conditions.
Once we know a location will work for us we are quick to open that unit. In fact, we are now so experienced at opening stores that we opened seven stores over 10 days in March this year, which is a phenomenal achievement. We’ll be opening more stores this year as we know our model works and we will continue to increase our market share as a result.
Being an established gaming brand in a competitive market only makes us more determined to deliver our value proposition as a ‘true’ national.
You’ve mentioned social and online frequently in the past, what are your plans in this space?
Bowyer: Our online channel is growing at a fantastic rate. We have a very specific strategy for our online and social media and are currently putting this at the heart of our business expansion. We will be communicating the detail of this strategy in the very near future, we are very excited by this side of Grainger Games.
MEET THE TEAM: (Clockwise from top left) MD Stephen Bowyer, sales director Phil Moore, commercial director Simon Peck and finance and logistics boss Mark Blundell hope to establish Grainger Games as a national retail brand