Game names new chair as sales slip

VIDEO game retailer Game Group yesterday said its sales had dropped as it announced that Chris Bell would be the company’s new non-executive chairman.

He will take over when Peter Lewis retires after the firm’s annual general meeting in June.

Bell has been a member of the Game board since 2003 and is currently the senior independent director.

He has extensive retail and board experience with Ladbrokes and Allied Domecq.

Lewis has been instrumental in overseeing Game’s growth over the past decade but more recently the company has been hit by competition from downloads and has been forced to rethink its business model, with an expansion into online sales.

Game, with more than 1,300 stores in nine European markets and Australia, yesterday said profit before tax and one-off items dropped 58 per cent to £37.8m in the year to 31 January and it froze its final dividend at 3.9p per share, giving it an unchanged total of 5.78p.

Sales at shops open over a year fell 6.7 per cent, and were down a further 12.1 per cent in the 12 weeks to 23 April.

But the company said its expansion online and in second-hand products would help it cope better than rivals in a weak consumer sector. Game’s shares jumped 11.1 per cent to close at 50.25p.