INTERVIEW: Woolworths

Are games really that important to your entertainment mix?

It’s now our biggest entertainment format, bigger than DVD or music. From about two or three months now – and DVD has some massive releases coming up. Consistently over the summer we have been the biggest.

We increased our games space by about 25 per cent, mainly from music. We could see what was happening to music and where games were going. We didn’t have PS3 properly in all stores, Wii the same.

Even in the smallest stores with two bays of games, will be more likely to be four, five or six bays now. It’s just got a lot more focus. And from a revenue point of view. It has been the biggest revenue earner for us over the summer.

Our games focus at Christmas will include TV, consumer mags and national press. A large increase in our games marketing compared to last year.

It makes a very good case for us to review the space we give games for spring next year. It’s very much high on the agenda as area growth market for us.

What’s your overall strategy for Christmas?

We’ve been quite aggressive. The introduction of our Cheap Chart has been a huge success. We were only initially doing PS2, DS. But now we now have a Wii one in bigger stores, as well as 360 and PSP. It’s perfect for our target consumer. It’s something for the kids to spend pocket money on.

We’re also pushing our new Big Red Book, which 24 pages of games, as well as two pages of Nintendo when you open it.

And at the back, where in a catalogue you’d normally expect us to push electrical equipment or TVs or something, we now have Xbox 360. That shows hows seriously we’re taking games at the end of this year?

Why did you do away with your Games Exchange pre-owned service?

Games Exchange was something that we’d always wanted to try. We were getting a lot of customers buying games from us and then trading them in elsewhere, so we decided to try and act on that.

But the success of our Cheap Chart meant we didn’t really want to give over more space to pre-owned games. It’s not impossible for our staff to deal with, but a bit more complex than a normal transaction.

If we were to do it again, we have to resource it and do it in a slightly different way. We’re glad we tried it. We had some good learnings and success. But for the moment we’ve put it on ice.

It’s very possible that it will come back. We could reintroduce it. The tills are all configured for it.

We’ve noticed you’re doing Woolworths-branded software. Any plans to introduce games?

It’s a small range of anti-virus Office-type products at the moment. It’s similar to what Tesco is doing. We sell huge numbers of this sort of thing. It’s not selling to gamers, it’s a utility product the average family need. It’s on trial in certain stores. We’re also doing Worth It!-branded music and DVD.

We might actually consider that for games accessories, too. But there are no firm plans to do software at the moment.

What are you doing this Christmas that’s so different from last year?

We have always been a value-led retailer, and where we’ve perhaps strayed away in the last few years and lost that opening price point message of value. Our Worth It range has been a phenomenal success and kind of reminded us of that. Now with the Cheap Chart and more games space, we can apply that message to interactive entertainment, too.

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