Gamestation set to grow with Blockbuster at helm

Entertainment retailer Blockbuster is planning to ramp up expansion of newly-acquired computer games group Gamestation.

Blockbuster UK, a subsidiary of publicly-traded US parent Blockbuster and part-owned by entertainment giant Viacom, snapped up rapidly-growing Gamestation for an undisclosed sum.

Blockbuster UK managing director Alex Sparks said that, although the opportunities are still being assessed, there is 'potential for between 400 and 500 (Gamestation) stores' from the current base of 64.

Sparks pointed to rival Game, which already has more than 300 British shops and is planning for 20 more next year. He said: 'What we are bringing to Gamestation is funding to roll out as many stores as we can in the next couple of years. We think the games market is one with a lot of opportunities.'

The Gamestation name will be retained and a concession format will be tested for a possible roll-out into larger Blockbuster stores of at least 230 sq m. Blockbuster has more than 250 stores of this size.

Gamestation co-founder and managing director Steve Hall will remain in his current position and report to Sparks. Sparks said there are no plans to close the Gamestation head office in York or to make staff cuts. Hall's former partner and co-founder of Gamestation, Julian Gladwin, will be retained in a consultancy role.

While Blockbuster already sells games, the deal allows it greater access to a market that Sparks said the company has 'identified internationally as a major opportunity'.

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