Game told its store staff to buy up Nintendo 3DS consoles from Tesco as it aimed to keep a steady supply in stores.

The 3DS launched last week and Nintendo has said it has broken all previous US hardware sales records for the company.

A memo from Game told employees to go to Tesco stores to buy discounted consoles when they went on sale on Thursday night, in order to sell them in Game stores second hand once its own stock had run out.

A letter from head office and sent to stores said: “It has been authorised by the business that members of staff from stores are able to purchase stock from Tesco stores and then trade them back in to your store as preowned stock.”

The letter cautioned: “Please note this task is not mandatory, it is only to be done when and if you have staff available and not to be done under any circumstances if you feel it may compromise personal safety. If you do this, you should consider the risks associated with this activity.”

Game said it advised staff to buy up stock from Tesco as some of its stores wanted to “move quickly last weekend to build their preowned stocks of 3DS at the same time as their local competitors, so we gave them a process to do that”.

The retailer added: “It was not mandatory, and happened in small volumes.”