Interview: Maplin on Game concession trial

As high-street footfall continues to dwindle due to the uptake of eCommerce, more and more retailers are looking to their neighbours to team up and ride this wave of uncertainty.

Sainsbury’s Argos recently announced a partnership with EE, while Maplin and Game are the latest duo to declare an in-store collaboration.

As Game’s financial results continue to suffer from a lack of new console hardware launches and a weaker line-up of new games, the retailer will be taking up space in four Maplin stores as part of a concession trial in the run up to peak.

Game will be closing four standalone stores and taking between 400 and 500 sq ft in four Maplin stores – two high-street and two retail-park – which have yet to be disclosed.

Speaking to Maplin’s CEO, Oliver Meakin, he says the technology retailer will benefit from making the Maplin business more attractive to a wider range of customers.

“We have real expertise and leadership on the high street with PC gaming, and Game has real leadership with console gaming,” explains Meakin. “We do a small amount of console gaming mainly around accessories and Game does a few PC gaming accessories, so there’s a very small overlap and we think it’s very complementary.”

Expert knowledge

“I genuinely think it will be a hugely beneficial relationship between Game and Maplin," adds Meakin.

The Maplin boss describes how Game has a loyal customer base, which he believes will travel to any location and both Maplin and Game have expert staff which encourage customers to visit the store.

“I think this combination means the customer will remain loyal to both brands and shop across the two because they’ll both be supported by specialist knowledge.”

Meakin says the business will closely follow the trial over the next three months and, if successful, will sit down to discuss opportunities to roll out further concessions across its 217 store fleet in 2018.

“The lovely thing about retail is that you can trial things pretty quickly and your customer will make you know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.”

Store of the future

While, due to space restraints, Game will be unable to bring its in-store competitive gaming brand, ‘Belong’, to the Maplin concessions, Meakin believes Game will sit comfortably next to Maplin’s newly designed stores.

Maplin has already reported double-digit sales growth from its ‘store of the future trial’ and it has now redesigned eight stores with the new format, with a further 20 locations to be refurbished this year after the new stores reported an 18% increase in footfall.

“We have a very distinct area for gaming with different fixtures. This shows the credibility in our range and our offer," explains Meakin. "We believe Game will sit very well alongside that, creating a real destination for gamers – be that console of PC gamers.”