Game looks to Christmas as losses rise

 
Steve Dinneen
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GAME Group is pinning its hopes on a bumper Christmas after seeing its first half losses double to £51m.

The video games retailer has suffered from a lack of blockbuster releases this year as well as the economic maelstrom keeping people away from the high street.

It reported a pre-tax loss of £51m in the first half, compared with a loss of £18.8m in 2010. Analysts expect a full-year profit of around £19.5m. Like-for-like sales fell 9.9 per cent to £558.8m.

It is now relying even more heavily on the run-up to Christmas, in which it traditionally takes around 40 per cent of its annual revenues.

Heavyweight franchises – including the latest installment of the Call of Duty series and the hotly anticipated Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – are expected to sell well, prompting the firm to maintain its full-year forecasts. It expects sales to be flat or slightly down on last year, although chief executive Ian Shepherd said he is “not unaware of the risk in that number”.

Investors appeared to endorse the plan, sending Game’s shares up 14.8 per cent yesterday.

Keith Bowman, an equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Game remains an investment for high risk investors.

“Group debt has increased, the dividend payment remains under scrutiny, while successful online initiatives cannot come fast enough.”