TECH

'Game' Doubles Sales Over Christmas After Two Massive Console Launches

15/01/2014 11:51 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 23:56 GMT
PA

The long-awaited launch of new consoles from Microsoft and Sony helped resurgent retailer Game nearly double sales over Christmas as the chain bounces back from administration less than two years ago.

Its festive performance caps a remarkable transformation for the group and comes as its new owners are understood to be considering plans for a £300 million stock market flotation later this year.

Game said like-for-like sales leapt 90% across its 320 stores, while online trade surged 213% in the six weeks to January 4 as Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 proved a hit over Christmas.

The group was rescued out of administration in late March 2012 by a group of investors including turnaround specialist OpCapita.

Nearly half of its original 600 stores were closed and more than 2,100 jobs axed, but the remaining estate was sold as part of the rescue deal and has seen a marked recovery in trade after its new owners overhauled the chain.

It made £15 million in underlying earnings in the year to the end of July and is expected to more than double that figure in the current year.

Game chief executive Martyn Gibbs - a former HMV executive - said the retailer was now seen as a "hub for the gaming community" thanks to improvements in staff training and service, an overhaul of its website and initiatives such as the extension of its trade-in offer and reward scheme.

Total sales over Christmas rose 83%, boosted also by the launch in September last year of Grand Theft Auto 5 - the fastest-selling video game in history.

It is thought that Game's owners - said to include US-based fund Elliott Advisers - are poised to appoint three advisers to put together plans for an initial public offering.

The purchase has been a success story for OpCapita, which was widely criticised for its handling of collapsed consumer electricals chain Comet, which it rescued before calling in administrators less than a year later.