GAME looking to acquire HMV stores after stronger than expected Xmas

OpCapita owned retailer GAME has approached administrators Deloitte about the possible acquisition of some HMV stores.

Game Retail chief executive Martyn Gibbs confirmed the move, though refused to give any numbers. It seems, however, that between 40-45 locations are being targeted in towns where GAME does not currently have a presence.

We will constantly review our property portfolio based on what is available,” Gibbs confirmed to The Financial Times. I would not rule out any stores that are becoming available, be that through an administration or normal property deals.”

Although Game Retail has not released any numbers for its Christmas trading, Gibbs claims they were ahead of expectations” and the retailer is confident it can hit its 20m annual earnings target by July.

He added that the approach to Deloitte has been made by GAME management and not by owner OpCapita, which still faces a possible Government enquiry over its handling of the collapse of Comet.

Game Retail’s enquiry is said to be one of 50 expressions of interest in HMV assets, with strong competition still coming from HMV Canada owner Hilco and private equity group Endless.

The move, if it comes to fruition, could be good news for HMV. Management remains certain HMV can survive, although it will undoubtedly have to reduce its High Street footprint if it wishes to do so.

What’s more surprising is GAME’s interest. The chain shed half of its retail real estate a little under a year ago when former owners GAME Group fell into administration. With 300 UK stores still in operation, any increase would raise eyebrows – unless it was offset by the closure of some existing outlets.

Others may well question the wisdom behind such an expansion as we approach the reveal of a new generation of consoles that will place a greater emphasis on digital than we’ve ever seen before.

Saying that, of course, the collapse of HMV and Blockbuster certainly puts Game Retail in a stronger position than it was before. Expansion would be bold, but he who dares wins… in theory.

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