What factors do you think have contributed to GAME Group outstripping its previous sales targets?
We are very confident with the Group outlook for the year to 31 January 2009. The business is performing very well, both Internationally and in the UK, and the Gamestation integration is going very well. We continue to see strong demand for the 5 key formats in the market, and European launch dates have been confirmed for Wii Mario Kart, Wii Fit and GTA IV since we last made an announcement. The excitement about these, and other titles like Metal Gear Solid on PS3, continues to grow among our customers.”
Is the recent appointment of Tricia Brennan and Martyn Gibbs as MDs of GAME and Gamestation a sign that the two businesses are to be kept as separate as possible?
Both brands have had an incredible year and we recognise that the existing management have been instrumental in their success. We now have exciting plans for growth at each chain. For a start, the Gamestation offices in York will remain open, so the team can continue to give customers uninterrupted service and keep doing what they do best. Both brands are very strong and Martyn and Tricia will continue to build on their successes.”
Can you give us an update on what's happening with the integration in general – which elements will separate and which parts of the business will be merged?
We're still looking at this, and will give more details in April. We already know that we can combine some specific elements to create a unified approach – for example in the property strategies for each chain – while other elements, particularly those that are Brand related, will remain separate to strengthen the dual brand strategy.”
Would you be able to give us some idea of if - or indeed how many - jobs might be cut as the integration continues?
We have continued to open stores for both brands – Gamestation opened about 35 stores last year and GAME opened 8 stores – and we have big plans to strengthen both brands, which includes further store openings to serve the increasing number of customers who are buying our products.”
Do you think the games retail market can keep up the growth it has enjoyed in the last year? What do you feel will be the key drivers for this?
There's no doubt that last year was a phenomenal year of growth – so it will be a big challenge to repeat. We said in our statement today that while we expect good growth in the coming year, it will be at a lower level than in 2007. The key driver has always been innovation – and we are very fortunate that the games industry has so many talented people repeatedly creating and marketing a range of outstanding products for our customers to buy and enjoy.”