Game has reported a drop in sales and pre-tax profits for the half year and is parting company with chief financial officer Benedict Smith.

The games specialist’s pre-tax profits dropped 1.8% to £33.2m for the 26 weeks ending January 24, while revenues fell 0.7% to £582.1m. EBITDA declined 16.2% during the period to £43m.

Smith has informed the board he intends to step down from his role as group chief financial officer (CFO) later this year and will take up the position of CFO at an unnamed private-equity-backed business.

He will remain on the board until July and work closely with the recently appointed UK finance director Alan Evans to ensure a smooth transition.

Game has hired head-hunters Korn Ferry to seek a replacement for Smith.

News of Smith’s departure comes two months after shares in the retailer collapsed after it announced a profit warning as promotions hit its Christmas margins.

Game chief executive Martyn Gibbs said: “Benedict has been a key member our management team which has transformed Game, achieved a successful IPO and driven forward our strategy of being at the heart of the gaming community.

“Benedict leaves the business in a strong financial position and though he will be with us for a few more months, I and all the team would like to take this opportunity to wish him well in his future role.”

Easter pick up predicted

Game has revealed the video games market in the UK has started 2015 slower than anticipated, but claims it continues to maintain strong market share and expects UK sales to pick up in the coming weeks due to promotional campaigns at Easter and the launch of a number of blockbuster games.

Gibbs added:  ” While we experienced some challenging conditions over the Christmas trading period, we are confident that our strategy of focusing on customer recruitment, combined with the significant and growing number of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 owners across our two major territories, provides a solid foundation from which to drive growth over the medium term.

“In the first half of the year we continued to make good progress on our strategic priorities. We achieved strong revenue and market share growth in digital sales. We have taken important steps in our strategy to broaden our offer beyond purely retail.”

“Our focus for the second half is to deliver on our trading targets and to continue to push forward our strategic initiatives, including further developing our digital strategy and broadening our engagement with gaming communities through technology, events and eSports following our acquisition of Multiplay”

Game has also revealed it will issue a £25 million special dividend to shareholders, which follows on from a maiden interim dividend of £12.5 million.