OpCapita, the investment firm that recently bought electrical goods retailer Comet, is effectively stepping in to buy what is left of Game Group, through a firm called Baker Acquisitions. Speaking when the deal was officially announced, OpCapta managing partner Henry Jackson said, "There is a huge amount to do but we look forward to the challenge."
This follows the harsh cuts imposed by the administrators last week. Jackson says OpCapita has "assembled a strong team of experienced industry operators to implement the programme of operational change that is needed." More details on the structure of the new group and OpCapita's plans for the chain will be released in the coming days, along with details of the new management team that will be put in place.
The firm is taking control of 333 stores across the Game and Gamestation brands, but GameSpot understands that following a relaunch, all the stores will begin operating under the same name--but no decision has yet been made as to what that name is. The move will safeguard 3,100 jobs for the time being; 277 stores closed last week, and in excess of 2,100 jobs were lost as a result. OpCapita had been in talks to buy all of the group's UK operations before the firm entered administration, but failed to reach a deal with the banks that were propping the group up. A source close to the matter but not authorised to speak about it told GameSpot that "OpCapita should have completed the deal before Game went into administration but didn't, due to the banks and their lack of leadership."
Game Group--which ran both Game and Gamestation stores in the UK and mainland Europe--employed around 10,000 people globally before going into administration last week. The firm had a turnover of £1.6 billion ($2.6 billion) in the 12 months to January 2012, but had struggled with cash flow. Several high-profile disputes with suppliers had laid the firm's troubles bare, and EA's decision to stop supplying the group with new stock shortly before the release of Mass Effect 3 was widely seen as the death knell.
Richard Wilson, chief executive of UK development trade body TIGA, was pleased by the news and its implications for the UK games industry. "This is good news for GAME and for UK consumers," Wilson said, before offering some advice to the new owners. "Given the rapid transition to digital gaming with consumers spending money on platforms such as Steam, Origin, the App Store, PSN, XBLA, and Android market, Game will have to develop a digital strategy--fast," he said.
UPDATE 01/04/12: This story was updated at 1610 and 1730 to reflect the deal being officially announced and further details emerging.