The Player


Game stores lose out to internet buying and rival outlets, writes CIARA O'BRIEN

IT WAS ONLY a while ago that this column looked at the difficulties facing the games industry, and retailers in particular.

This week, Game finally became the latest casualty of the downturn, closing all of its stores in the State with immediate effect. The move came after administrators were called in to try to save the business.

In total, Game had just over 600 stores across the UK and Ireland. On Monday, the decision was taken by administrators PwC to close 277 of them. Only five remain on the island of Ireland, all of them in the North.

To say it came as a shock to employees is probably putting it lightly. Yes, there were some warning signs – talks with suppliers, losing out on stocking some of the big titles, indications that the group may seek the protection of the courts through administration – but when the decision was taken, it was implemented fast.

On Monday, a notice came through that administrators had been appointed. And if the signs in the windows of local Game stores are anything to go by, it was only a matter of hours before staff here were instructed to cease trading. That’s 121 people out of a job in the Republic and 110 in the North, with no real period of notice.

At Dawson Street in Dublin, there were two notices in the window: one thanking customers for the support and one that read: “As of 1.30pm on the 26/03/12, we were informed by our head office to cease trading! We have been offered nothing in the way of redundancy or compensation.”

Why did Game eventually close its doors here? Well, there’s the increased competition for a start. The rise of internet shopping means that you no longer have to go to a high street store to buy games. Price competition also played a part, with customers able to shop around in a wider range of stores. A fall in disposable income almost certainly contributed, with other retailers also feeling the pinch as we all tighten our belts.

Joint administrator Mike Jervis said the priority was to continue trading the business as normal – which it will for the remaining Game stores in the UK – and a buyer is being sought. “The recent job losses are regrettable but will place the company in a stronger position while we explore opportunities to conclude a sale,” he says.

This will be of little comfort to employees, some of whom are staging protests at their former workplaces.