If at first you don’t succeed…

March 26, 2012

Todays events at GAME and GameStation have brought back some memories for all of us at Playtime, some of which are not very pleasant. When I say to all the staff at the GAME Group “We feel your pain” it is from first hand experience.

Playtime (originally known as Playtime Multimedia Ltd) went into administration in March 2009 – three years ago to the day – that GAME did.

And for the very same reasons. We found out first hand that it just isn’t possible to run a profitable business on the high street, selling just games.

We didn’t have 606 stores when we first closed – we had 10. We didn’t have 5,500 employees, we had 53. But the similarities are striking.

We got into retailing because we loved games, and wanted to work with them. That’s how GAME and Gamestation both started. And we grew as gaming became more mainstream, just like GAME did!

But when the supermarkets move in, there’s very little any specialist retailer can do. Online has grown but over 70% of games are still sold through conventional boxed retail channels.

It’s just that most people don’t come shopping on the High Street now. Shoppers flock to supermarkets for their weekly “one-stop” shop and pick up the latest release there, or they go to the huge shopping centres where they can park and “leisure shop”.

Any business analyst will tell you that most businesses need a Gross Margin of at least 30% to be sustainable. Supermarkets do it by margin mixing. High street brands do it in shopping centres like Bluewater and Meadowhall by selling expensive, premium brands.

Single product, specialist chains like Playtime and GAME are not sustainable if they have to sell most games at the prices customers expect to pay! And in any free market, that is the price you have to charge. I’m not complaining. I’m a great fan of the free market, even though we have suffered at the hands of it. If you get knocked down, get up, you brush yourself down, and try again!

I’m sure it would have happened a lot earlier to us and to GAME, had it not been for the pre-owned part of the games business. Margins in this area are much closer to the 30% GP required than they are for selling new games. Perhaps though that just stayed the execution.

So try again we did. We only have three stores now and we have diversified, both online and into collectables & other game related items. To be honest though, it still doesn’t make any money. We do it because we have lease commitments to meet and we are still gamers at heart – we love being around games & gamers!

I’m sure GAME will return too. Maybe not with 600+ stores. But if they can find someone to service the debt they’ve built up (or even wipe it out) they can then start again with a lower cost base.

There are still people who want to buy their games from a specialist.

For the foreseeable future anyway….


Cloudy with a chance of getting squirted

August 13, 2010

I wish they had these when I was 10…


Let’s hear it for good service

May 18, 2010

This one deserves more than a simple tweet….

I left this at home this morning…


By about 11.30, my laptop was on 20% power and I wasn’t going to be able to do much more work. I could either go all the way home and get it (which would take an hour) or nip to Meadowhall and buy another (which would take 5 mins).

Went for the quick option….

“Hi, do you sell these….?”
“No, sorry, not separately. They come with the power brick. Have you lost yours?”
“No, I left mine at home”
“Just a second, I’ll see if there is anything I can do….”

The Apple guy nips into the back for a couple of minutes and comes out with one.

“There you go!”
“Cool… How much is that?”

You cannot argue with service like that. First class!


Not lunch but dinner

April 14, 2010

As I forgot to photograph my lunch, i thought I would keep my informal holiday food journal up to date with a piccie of dinner instead.

The chicken was drizzled in olive oil and rubbed with some Basil Salt I found in the cupboard! It was then roasted for about 40 mins with some garlic. Served with potato & celeriac mash and ratatouille.

The serving plate was also in a cupboard within the accommodation, but not the same one as the salt!!!


Moules Roquefort

April 13, 2010

Second in a series of lunches I have had.

Today was at L’Ocean Creperie in Ars en Ré.

Nikki had Moules Marinere…

whilst I had Moules Roquefort…

I’ve never had this one before but it was really good, so I will be trying that at home very soon.

Can you spot the difference?


Galette de Fruits de Mer

April 12, 2010

Mussels & Scallops to be exact.

We found “Le Pot D’Etain” just ambling round the back streets – very rustic & charming inside.

Nikki had a Galette de Fromage et Jambon and we shared a little carafe of Merlot Rosé – yummy!!! Samuel had a sausage and cheese galette whilst the girls had Caramel (Lily-Anne) and Chocolate (Grace) crepes. The children then had ice cream – Nikki & I had coffee.

All in all, a very civilised way to pass the time of day.


And in an update..

April 7, 2010

The trouble with rumours is they are just that….

There are no facts here Mam, just speculation.

This target is moving more than “insert comedy target simile here”!!!