Games Centre: How the King in the North held his throne

This year, Scotland’s Games Centre walked away with the Independent Retailer prize at the MCV Awards for the fifth time in a row.

With eight stores and a successful online business that delivers to over 50 countries, Games Centre is a force to be reckoned with in the UK independent retail scene. What’s more, it has seen important growth these last few years, performing better in 2015 than it did in 2014.

Following his win at the MCV Awards, we speak to MD and founder Robert Lindsay to find out how 2015 went for Games Centre, and what we can expect from the retailer during the rest of the year.

Congratulations on winning an MCV Award for the fifth time.
Thank you. It means as much this year as it did first time around, and to know that our industry peers have given us their vote is reward in itself.

Why do you think you won this category again?
We’ve been in the industry now for nearly 25 years and over time we have built up fruitful relationships with key publishers and suppliers, as well as developing a reputation for strong marketing campaigns and customer service.

What makes Games Centre stand out from the crowd?
The indie sector is still competitive with many good retailers such as Chips, Barkman, Insane Games and Playtime having been around for years. As we’ve won the award previously, maybe our name springs to mind more readily when voting time comes around.

What were your biggest achievements in the last year?
2015 was another challenging period. Did I say that last time? Probably. We outperformed 2014, which itself was a strong year, and have maintained growth into Q4. Launching our tech initiative was successful, though not without its challenges. To complement the strong trade-in proposition we have, we now offer a part exchange service on phones and tablets, many of which have been traded towards PS4s and Xbox Ones. The more reasons we can give our customers to shop with us then the more likely we will be to retain their business in the years to come.

What are your expectations for the year to come? Do you have any plans for further expansion?
Quiet optimism. Q4 has been stronger than expected and with a strong release schedule over the next few months we should be ahead of the curve as summer approaches. No further store expansions are planned in the immediate future, but if the retail landscape were to change then we would certainly consider the option.

What are you most looking forward to in the games industry over the next few months?
Having initially been skeptical about VR, Sony’s recent announcement is building an air of excitement and VR could take off. Time will tell.

What other issues are facing Games Centre?
Digital, which is a threat and an opportunity in equal measures. When 20 per cent of a new release’s sales are digital, it’s hard to dispute the impact this will have on boxed products. The need to diversify is greater than ever. Digital sales have steadily increased, particularly over the last six months, as consumers have become more aware of the digital content available at store level with Season Passes in particular proving very popular on key releases.

Our website is an important and growing channel for us, particularly as we have such a strong back catalogue offering within the business. We will continue to add new products as the year progresses. GAME Marketplace performed really well for us in the lead up to Christmas. It has slowed down lately, possibly due to the number of other retailers now on the platform.

But hey, it’s a great industry to be involved in and in some way, shape or form, we will be here as a business for some time to come.

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