It's been a tough morning for GAME. Profits have been falling, execs have been departing, and now the interim management team has had to defend its decision to expand upon its store closure plans – the end result of which will mean the end of an additional 127 outlets.
When asked by MCV if the rise of digital distribution will continue to impact on bricks and mortar retail, interim CEO Christopher Bell responded: It is always difficult to see – I think it would be crass to say that there will not be some impact, because that is just reality.
As non-boxed revenues increase, we are reducing the number of overlapping outlets in the UK. We are also limiting store openings in our existing international locations, but will continue to look at new markets if they show the right return characteristics.
But it's not a case, as a lot of scaremongers say, of ‘why would you ever go buy a game from a shop anymore?'.
Yes, digital will grow. I actually think it will grow the market, and you'll have to manage your retail footprint alongside that. Yes, there will be less stores, that's straightforward, but actually they will be bigger, better stores that offer a wider range and doing different things. And that's the way most of retail is developing, whether you're GAME or Next.”
The retailer still argues that the closures, along with the strong control disciplines” that have lead to cost reductions of 5m over the last year, are all part of a realignment strategy that is responding to the changing shape of the modern games market.
Group finance director Ben White added: There is a recognition that we need to be in every channel in which the customer is shopping – stores, ecommerce and digital. We are adjusting our business to meet what our customers demand.”