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ANALYSIS Game returns to the stockmarket after turnaround

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News that Game is set to return to the stock exchange marks a watershed moment for the retailer.

It’s just over two years since Game went into adminstration at the depths of the retail recession. It survived only thanks to an April Fool’s Day deal in 2012 that saw Baker Acquisitions, a vehicle of private equity investor OpCapita, buy its remaining 333 stores, saving upwards of 3,000 jobs.

At the time, Henry Jackson, managing partner of OpCapita, said of the deal: “We strongly believe there is a place on the high street for a video gaming specialist and Game is the leading brand in a £2.8 billion market in the UK.” There was much to do, he emphasized, before that could happen.

Now Game is set to return to the stockmarket, with a £12m IPO announced yesterday. The patient’s condition, it seems, is much improved. According to the IPO announcement, Game is now an omnichannel company with 569 stores across the UK and Spain, supported by both ecommerce and m-commerce channels. The new model puts the store at the centre, where it acts as a “marketing platform for suppliers’ physical and digital video gaming products.”

It’s a proposition that the company’s management says sets it apart from supermarkets, department stores and other online retailers “at a time when video gaming content and products are growing in complexity.”

Some 16m reward programme members in both countries collect points that can be used to pay for goods and services. Following the flotation, virtual loyalty shares worth £1.8m, will be distributed to 18,000 existing reward programme members, while others worth £200,000 will be distributed randomly among other members of the programme. The shares can be redeemed at fixed dates for rewards point that can be spent with Game.

David Hamid, non-executive chairman of GAME Digital, says the turnaround is a “remarkable” one.

“GAME in the UK has been transformed and strengthened, while GAME in Spain has proved its resilience,” he said.

He added: “The retail landscape is ever-changing and the business has proved it is capable of taking advantage of that pace of change. I look forward in particular to rolling out our ground-breaking digital strategy, which should underpin the business for many years to come.”

Martyn Gibbs, chief executive of GAME Digital, said the business was well-placed to capitalise on the growing market for gaming content, whether digital or physical, new or pre-owned.

“A public listing will support our long-term strategy as we develop our digital offering in all our channels,” he said. “GAME’s stores, online and mobile channels are an influential and cost-effective route to market for our supplier partners. Gamers can get advice, try new games, trade-in and buy exclusive content with us. With 16 million reward programme members, we are building a valuable community of gamers across the UK and Spain.

“We have had tremendous support from the industry since starting our new company and we now offer our customers significant benefits in terms of their store experience, access to our trained and knowledgeable store teams, access to digital content, and a widening range of products. As we enter a new era of gaming, with ever more content and ways to buy and play, the business is incredibly well-placed to continue to grow.”

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