A retail stalwart boasting many, many years of expertise, Berkley has mentored many of today’s most successful retail buyers, earning him the moniker ‘the godfather of games buying’. His first involvement with games was at BHS in the 1980s, dealing with Sinclair Spectrum and C64. After a stint in the toy industry, he joined Virgin Retail as part of the team recruited to grow games and roll out Virgin Games Centres. He then moved onto HMV to launch their games offer as head of games, before heading over to Blockbuster as general manager for games. Prior to his current role as Woolworths’ trading manager for games, he spent three years as Interact Accessories’ general manager for the EMEA region.
Alex Vines, GAME
While MCV may well use the phrase ‘industry veteran’ a little too much, a quick peek at Alex Vines’ CV firmly puts him in that category. He started out in store management at the Virgin Games Centre in Oxford, and has since worked at MVC, at EUK as trading manager and product manager for games and DVD at Blockbuster. After starting at GAME as group product manager, Vines is entering his third year at the specialist retailer as commercial planning manager.
Anna Downing, Gamestation
Having worked in the retail games industry for seven years, mixing both marketing and buying roles, Anna has spent the past three and a half years with Gamestation. Promoted to head of product last year, Downing heads up the buying team of seven staff based in York. Highlights over the past year include the successful launches of the Wii and PlayStation 3 consoles, and along with the rest of her team, Downing states that she is proud to be driving Gamestation’s business forward.
Juliana Foley, EUK
Foley joined the industry in 1996, working at THE as national account manager selling Nintendo products to indie and key accounts. In 1999 she moved on to The Learning Company – then a major PC publisher – as national account manager. Then it was off to Eidos and a role as senior national account manager before moving to EUK in 2002 as games trading manager. Foley is now responsible for games category purchasing, full category management and supplier/retailer relationship management.
Duncan Cross, Asda
Cross joined the Asda Graduate scheme in 1996 at 21. He was based in stores for seven years, three of which were as general manager – becoming one of Asda’s youngest ever general store managers. Cross then relocated to Asda House where he joined the Fresh Food Operations team. He was in this role for two years before joining the games team as buying manager 18 months ago.
Graham Chambers, Amazon
Chambers started out in 1992 as national account manager at Nintendo UK, before moving onto Ubisoft in 1996 to become sales manager, and from 1997 was managing director of Ubisoft UK. Fgrom there, he moved to become MD at Gameloft in 2000. Next he moved on to become managing director of Gauntlet Entertainment before setting up a private sales consultancy. Thanks to his impressive CV and many years of industry experience, Chambers has been a key figure at Amazon since September 2007.
Don McCabe, CHIPS
Having completed a qualification in computer engineeering at Teeside University, McCabe set up CHIPS with partner Nik Agar in 1986 and has since led the indie to prominence as the second largest chain of games stores in the UK, after GAME Group. The chain’s unique franchise structure has ensured that the retailer has gone from strength to strength, opening a new store every few months.
Tim Ellis, HMV
HMV’s place on the High Street as a force to be reckoned with in gaming is largely down to the strength of Tim Ellis and his HMV games buying team. A notoriously ‘forthright’ Retail Advisory Board member when accepting MCV Excellence Awards on stage, Ellis is a key member of the games retail trade and has led the High Street chain’s efforts for many years, becoming a key contact for suppliers and a highly popular figure within the industry.
Gian Luzio, Play.com
Luzio’s long career in games and software started out at Longman Logotron selling GCSE software, which led to a two-year stint at Midas Interactive. From there, Luzio moved to GSP for a year before taking a role at Play.com. During his seven years at the internet retailer, Luzio has overseen the spectacular growth of the games category, and has also been instrumental in the emergence of Play.com Live, the highly ambitious consumer show to take place at Wembley in March.
Debbie O’Neill, Comet
O’Neill joined as the category buyer of games in August 2007, having previously been in various buying jobs throughout Comet including TV and multimedia. O’Neill believes that the potential for both the market and for Comet this year is huge, and since joining the games industry full time has found that publishers and suppliers have been very supportive in terms of getting her switched onto the market as quickly as possible.
Rene Wright, DSGi
Wright can boast a 12-year stint at DSGi. She joined the DSG games team in April 2005 as senior buyer after five years buying varying product categories from hi-fi and in-car entertainment to cameras and camcorders. In May 2006 she was promoted to senior category manager for games, heading up and taking responsibility for the UK buying and marketing of all games products across Currys, Currys Digital, PC World and Dixons Tax Free stores. In her time in games, Wright and her team have successfully launched PSP, Xbox 360, DS Lite and PS3, and managed the problematic and challenging launch of Wii.
Brian Foote, Sainsbury’s
Foote is a well-known industry games buyer thanks to his four and a half successful years at EUK. From there he moved on to become a music and video games buyer at Sainsbury’s and has overseen a huge leap in the supermarket’s presence and market share in interactive entertainment. 2008 looks set to be another sterling year for Foote and Sainsbury’s as gaming increasingly catches the mainstream consumers’ eye.
Patrick Kelly, Zavvi
Last year’s Virgin Megastores MBO saw the emergence of new retail powerhouse Zavvi – and as a vital member of the games buying team, Kelly has been charged with the task of making the new retail brand a destination for gamers. It’s been a good start – Zavvi managing director Simon Douglas recently told MCV that without the shackles of Virgin’s heritage in music, the entertainment chain can now make games a huge part of its offering. Expect to hear alot more from Kelly and Zavvi in 2008.
Stephen Staley, Gameseek.co.uk
Having set up Gameseek.co.uk at his parents’ house with a mighty £53 in the bank, Staley’s design qualifications helped him build a well constructed website that has become many gamers’ destination of choice. Gameseek has since become one of the top games specialist retail websites.
Matt Holland, tgrav.com
Prior to setting up tgrav.com, Holland was the head of gaming at Logitech. He also developed key partnerships with major publishers and worked closely with product management in the USA and Europe to develop and launch new, innovative and market leading products. Holland opened accounts with major gaming retailers and took the brand to number one status in many categories.