277 Stores to Close as GAME Enters Administration

On Monday the 26th of March, the face of specialist gaming retail on the UK high street changed dramatically. Yesterday marked the closure of 277 GAME and Gamestation stores (including Gamestation’s flagship Birmingham New Street store) and the loss of over two thousand jobs as GAME Group PLC went into administration.

The official statement from GAME Group

Mike Jervis and Stuart Maddison of PwC were appointed joint administrators of the UK and Ireland operations of The GAME Group plc, Game Stores Group Limited, Gameplay (GB) Limited, Game (Stores) Limited, Games Station Limited, Game (retail) Limited, Gamestation Limited (“the group”) on 26 March 2012. The appointment was made following the company’s announcements on 21 March that the listing of its securities on the Main Market of London Stock Exchange plc had been suspended from trading and a filing of a notice of intention to appoint an administrator had been made.

The group, with a turnover of £1,625m in the year to 31 January, is a multi-channel retailer of video games and video games hardware trading under the names of Game and Gamestation. The group’s head office is based in Basingstoke with operations in the UK and Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Czech Republic and Australia. There are currently 609 stores throughout the UK and Ireland. There are 385 employees based in the group’s head office in Basingstoke and 5,136 store employees across the UK and Ireland.”

Mike Jervis, joint administrator and partner at PwC said, “The group has faced serious cashflow and profit issues over the recent past. It also has suffered from high fixed costs, an ambitious international roll-out and fluctuating working capital requirements. Despite these challenges, we believe that there is room for a specialist game retailer in the territories in which it operates, including its biggest one, the UK. As a result we are hopeful that a going concern sale of the business is achievable.”

One of the Trafford Centre GAME stores in Manchester was amongst the stores that were told to close and staff were made redundant before the end of the working day. An employee there said, “It has been a tough day for us, 2,300 people have been made redundant and we are just hoping still for a buyer.” The Trafford Centre stores were two of the busiest branches in the UK.

The big question many people are asking at the moment is what this will mean to GAME‘s consumers. Well, besides the store closures the biggest effect it will have on many is the changes to their returns, rewards and pre-orders policies. GAME Group announced that its gift card and loyalty card schemes are currently being suspended and it would not be able to offer refunds or exchanges for products, including those purchased before it went into administration. They also stated that they expect “some disruption to [their] online services over the next few days,” and that for the time being, they will not be taking any new pre-orders or refunding any pre-order deposits. In a statement made on Facebook, they said that they would be “reviewing this over the next week.” As a side note, you can still earn reward card points in store, just not redeem them.

GAME Group said anyone requiring assistance with an existing order should contact its customer service team by emailing: customerservices@game.co.uk.

There have been a lot of strong emotions among staff and customers over the last 48 hours, including reports of a customer hitting the doors of a closed Gamestation. In my local GAME, which is still open, there were long queues of people yesterday wanting to speak to the manager about if it was safe to buy from them and why they would not issue refunds. It seems that for many of the parents who don’t read about video games online, this came as a complete shock.

A list of the GAME and Gamstation stores confirmed to be closed can be found on MCV. Is your local store closing? Do you still have reward points to redeem? Let us know in the comments below.

Sources: Source 1| Source 2| Source 3

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