Games Centre - The king in the North

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Scottish retailer Games Centre is a force to be reckoned with in the indie space, and now has four MCV Awards under its belt to prove it.

We catch up with MD Robert Lindsay.

Congratulations on winning your fourth MCV Award.

Thanks. It's not something we'd take for granted. This year, as the award included online retailers, we thought we wouldn't win. It was a nice surprise.

You are an online retailer yourself – how has that been going for you?

The new site started in October. It's still not quite how we want it to be, but we're certainly getting a lot more traffic than we did before. Online has been the biggest area of growth for us – both with our site and selling through other online channels as well. We still sell over Amazon and Ebay, and we also have partnered up with GAME Marketplace.

Why do that?

It is important that we sell through as many channels as possible. There's no point in limiting ourselves to just our own website. Our stores and our site are the clear priority, but if we can make sure that customers have access to our products in as many places as possible, that can only improve the business. How people buy is changing, and what they purchase is changing. It would be wrong to limit the business to what we have been doing for the past ten or 15 years. Everyone is looking around and saying ‘we're doing this, but what else can we do?'.

I know you have been looking at digital. How's that going?

We anticipate digital sales accounting for at least five per cent of our overall business within the next 12 to 18 months. It's increased hugely over the last year, from nothing really. And the range we have now is much broader. We have also recently run publisher-supported promotions that really worked for us. Digital is developing as the months go on. That's where the market is headed. And the range of content will expand and how we promote that will develop as well.

What digital content do you still want?

Microsoft is the key area for improvement for us. We are looking to offer our customers a similar product range to that of GAME. That's something that's progressing and we're in discussions about the next step. But that's not something that can happen overnight. Our customers are getting more comfortable purchasing digital at a store level. We've ran various promotions through CentreSoft on Sony products, unique to Games Centre, and they've really worked for us. It's early days, but the more we do them the more we can go to other publishers confident in the results.

Last year you opened your eighth store in Clydebank. Do you have any plans for further expansion?

We're not ruling out any more stores should the opportunity arise, but there are none due in the immediate future. We have other projects in the pipeline that will provide better opportunities than store openings at present.

On last week's cover, we had a story about pre-orders being in decline. Is this something you have experienced?

No. For us, pre-orders are actually increasing. We've had a number of pre-order incentives running over the last few months in particular. That's something we've actively been working on.

How have you been keeping pre-orders up?

We've been giving customers incentives to pre-order – trade a game back in early against a pre-order, selling pre-order games at an early bird rate, and using POS and social media to make consumers aware of any pre-order bonuses or giveaways available for pre launch.

What are the other issues facing Games Centre?

Our immediate challenge is the quiet slate over the summer. Other than that, we aren't facing many challenges that we weren't already faced with. There's a good opportunity at the moment for specialist retailers. Customers buying habits have shifted over the past six months away from non-specialists, which provides a great opportunity for specialists to take advantage in the coming year.

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