Yesterday the beleaguered Game Group gave up the ghost and finally entered administration after being unable to find a suitable partner to rescue the business from collapse. PwC, the administrators put in charge, announced that they would be closing 277 Game and Gamestation stores across the UK and Ireland, making 2104 staff redundant by the end of the week. This will leave 333 stores open which will according to PwC make the group a more attractive proposition to buyers.
It was a sad day for me as I read the announcement and the list of stores to be closed that was compiled on Gameindustry.biz , especially as the two closest stores to me in North Finchley and Brent Cross were ones earmarked for closure. No longer will I be able to enliven my trips to either destination by popping into Game to see if anything takes my fancy.
It’s never a good day when that many people lose their jobs and it is especially tough with the current economic situation. Those 2104 employees will probably end up joining the 2.67m other unemployed people looking for work. However while a degree of sympathy is required for those who work in the trenches at Game, the same emotion should not be directed at the senior management who have quite clearly messed up, badly.
Administrators at PwC have blamed The Game Group's collapse on its "ambitious" overseas expansion and the "unfortunate" close proximity of its stores and it is the latter point that I think speaks volumes about the kind of people who were in charge of The Game Group. It is easy to see that Game had too many stores on our high streets. Ask any gamer at random and they will tell you how there are either two Game stores or one Game and a Gamestation store on their local high-street, often in close proximity.
I myself used to work for Game and was staggered when I heard that they were to open a concession store in a Debenhams just down the road from the store I worked in. Then when Game took over Gamestation you suddenly had a situation where the Game Group had three stores on one high-street. Anyone could see that this situation was hardly the best way to run a business–as all these stores would do was cannibalise each other’s sales; and you still have to pay rent and wages for each individual store. The Game Group already had too many stores in similar areas before they bought Gamestation and that purchase made things even worse. That the senior management never thought about cutting the number of stores it had is just plan madness. Throughout the last few months as the trials and tribulations of Game have been reported, comments under news stories and on message boards have often stated the same incredulity. If the public could see where the problem lies, why couldn’t high-powered business men?
The demise of The Game Group should go down as one of the biggest cock-ups in retail history. That you can take a group that is providing goods in what is predominantly a growing economic sector, and run it into the ground is just beyond belief. Many commentator’s believe that it was the rise of digital distribution and the increase in online sales that did for Game in the end, but retail still makes up 50% of all video game sales and the fact that Game couldn’t make a good fist of what is a buoyant sector is damming evidence showing that management just lost the plot.
I hope someone is able to come and save the remaining 333 stores and their staff. The high-street needs a video-game presence on it. Not purely for the reasons outlined in my previous blog, but because it serves as a reminder to the public at large that games matter. As it currently stands it’s a sad day for retail, a sad day for gamers, but an even worse day for the 2,104 people who have lost their jobs because of the terrible mismanagement of the company.