OPINION: Morgan success at GAME will not be matched

Where GAME goes from here will depend on the vision of its next CEO.

It is a crucial appointment that the board must get right. But, in the meantime, Lisa Morgan’s role in turning a mid-size UK retail chain into an international giant must not be under-estimated.

On joining from Dixons in 1996, GAME had less than 200 stores, but today it boasts 1,400 outlets across nine European countries, plus Australia.

Yes, annual sales are down 10 per cent to January 31st, but those sales are still a staggering 1.77 billion. It is profitability (or, more importantly, a level of profit to impress the City) that has become harder to achieve in recent times.

But the current gloom has surely been caused by macro factors affecting the games market and retail in general, rather than any over-riding strategic errors.

Former Ladbrokes chief executive Chris Bell is now acting as interim CEO and must find a replacement to match Lisa Morgan.

And what a hard act to follow, the next boss of GAME must set about building a future for GAME amidst a changing landscape in terms of of game technology and purchasing habits.

It is similar to the challenge that has been faced down so impressively by Simon Fox at HMV. But even this much applauded retail boss would admit that his company has a long way to go yet – which further underlines the size of GAME’s task, because it is considered by the City to lag behind HMV in terms of new thinking.

GAME already has some accomplished senior management in Tricia Brennan and Martyn Gibbs, who will ensure that the business is run efficiently and energetically from both a pan-European and UK perspective every single day.

But the strategic challenges are huge and one wonders if the company must now accept a period of re-adjustment rather than growth.

The rise of GAME since Lisa Morgan stepped up from buying to Board in 2000 will surely never be matched. And the importance of Lisa Morgan in the history of this brilliant UK retail group will never diminish. Neither should the respect she commands within the industry.

Part of a generation of ‘home-grown’ industry execs who fought their way to senior management positions as video games exploded to greater and greater popularity through the late 1990s and beyond, Morgan remained approachable and popular… even if GAME itself has always been a demanding business partner.

The search for a new CEO has begun and we wish that person and GAME all the very best for the future.

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