Sports Direct and Game have entered into an agreement that will lead to Game concessions and its gaming arenas being installed in Sports Direct stores.

It comes after the Mike Ashley-owned sports retailer snapped up a 26% stake in Game last year.

Game is eager to accelerate the roll-out of its gaming arenas as its chief executive Martyn Gibbs strives to diversify the struggling firm by growing its fledgling esports and events divisions. There are currently Belong-branded arenas in 19 Game stores.

As part of the deal, Sports Direct has acquired a 50% stake in the Belong business for a cash consideration of £3.2m. It will take a 50% share of all future Belong profits.

Game has also entered into a loan agreement with Sports Direct for facilities of up to £55m on an unsecured basis. Sports Direct funds will be used to finance the new venues, the ongoing development of the Belong website and its related tournament management system.

Gibbs said: “I am delighted that through the collaboration agreement we are able to accelerate the implementation of a key element of our transformational strategy to move from a seller of physical products to providing gaming experiences.

“As more consumer focus and spend moves to experiences, we are well advanced in delivering unique, world-class gaming at both local and national level.”

The gaming boss added that the business is “very encouraged” by the popularity and performance of its existing gaming arenas.

“We look forward to collaborating with Sports Direct to increase the availability and scale of Belong and to capitalise on the increasing overlap between sports and esports fans by bringing this unique experience to a wider consumer base,” he said. 

Sports Direct chief financial officer Jon Kempster said: “This is a very good example of building a commercial relationship via our strategic investment approach.”

An interview with Game boss Martyn Gibbs about its in-store gaming arenas