The Competition Commission may have given the green light to GAME's ownership of Gamestation, but UK retail may face an entirely new challenge in 2008: the entrance into the market of a major US specialist chain.
MCV has learnt that Play-N-Trade, a franchise-orientated retailer based in California, has its eye on the UK market and is considering a move on the territory in the near future.
Play-N-Trade claims that it is the largest and fastest-growing video game franchise worldwide. The company has 110 stores in the US. Last month, its founder Ron Simpson was voted at number 16 in Next-Gen.biz's Top 25 People of 2007 – the only games retailer on the list.
The second biggest retail chain in the UK, CHIPS – also a franchise operation – has welcomed the potential for new competition in the market. But the firm has warned Play-N-Trade that it might not find the UK an easy territory to succeed in.
Joint MD Don McCabe told MCV: It would be nice to have another competitor to take on GAME's dominant position. We're so far behind them in terms of size, there is a real opportunity for someone with ambition to come in and grab a significant amount of market share.
They're dotted all over the US and don't get to enjoy the centralised buying system we have here in the UK. It will be hard for them to just jump over the pond. The closest Gamestop has come to real success in the UK is its setup in Ireland – that's a good sign that it's no easy feat.”