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Game Stores still on track for post Covid turnaround

Game’s vice-president, Andrew Stein, said yesterday their stores now provided improved accessibility, navigation and visibility. Photo: Supplied

Game’s vice-president, Andrew Stein, said yesterday their stores now provided improved accessibility, navigation and visibility. Photo: Supplied

Published Jul 6, 2022

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Massmart subsidiary Game said yesterday its 115 stores across the country had been “refreshed” to provide consumers with a better store experience, as part of the company’s turnaround strategy.

In 2020, Massmart reported lower revenues and foot traffic at Game brought about by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns in South Africa. In the year to December 31, 2021, Game’s trading loss widened substantially to R1.03 billion from a R532 million loss the year before. The blow meant Massmart had to close its DionWired outlets.

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“The new Game Store strategy to revise sales is okay, but it is higher risk and the competition is getting rougher,” said Mergence Investment Managers head of equities Peter Takaendesa.

“From a competition and consumer point of view it is a challenging environment to implement a turnaround in and they have to carefully manage their costs,” he said.

“The environment we are in is very tough. Retailers are faced with higher inflation, higher interest rates and high fuel prices that are going to squeeze the consumer. This is a difficult environment to implement a turnaround in,” he said.

He said while online retailers such as Takealot were benefiting from increased sales online, “in South Africa we still have a bit of time for bric-and-mortar stores as people enjoy shopping in centres”, said Takaendesa.

Game’s vice-president, Andrew Stein, said yesterday their stores now provided improved accessibility, navigation and visibility. Extensive market and customer research had been undertaken in the review of the company’s retail landscape, he said.

“We’ve given more space to our ownership categories in-store – including Baby, Wellness, Appliances and TVs – and changed the way we display products, to give customers a better idea of how they can fit into their lives and homes,” he said.

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“Our customers are shopping in-store because they like to be able to see, touch and test their items. In line with this, we have introduced an interactive zone for customers to test electronics, prams, and bikes and a living room inspiration section in our newly expanded homeware category,” he said.

Earlier this year the retailer expanded and relaunched its homeware offering by replacing 75 percent of the range and introducing trendy items including wingback chairs and TV units in selected stores.

“This was a positive move. Since the launch our total sales grew by 40 percent,” said Stein.

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And two years after replacing Fresh and Frozen with basic apparel, Game said it had sold over 2.5 million items of clothing as local customers continue to seek value alternatives for essential items amid turbulent economic times.

The retailer has also increased the number of South African suppliers, to 64 percent from 54 percent in 2020. The retailer also added over 300 new items to its baby offering, and sales in baby grew by 37 percent in stores where this change was made, said Stein.

The retailer also launched a refreshed website in April offering sourcing logic for geo-location of products, improved search and navigation, and additional merchandise categories such as liquor – which was not available online before.

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“This is an important move for Game, as our research shows that many South African consumers continue to bargain hunt and look for deals online. Our online transactions grew by 164 percent between April and May compared to the same period in 2021, following the launch of our improved website,” he said.

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BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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