Game over as chain shuts 277 shops and 2,100 jobs go

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The Independent Online

More than 2,000 UK jobs were axed yesterday, as Game Group shut hundreds of shops after it collapsed into administration.

The beleaguered video games retailer, which had 609 UK stores, was unable to meet a £21m second-quarter rental payment due on Sunday and appointed the accountancy firm PwC as administrator.

It is the biggest failure of a UK-listed retailer since Woolworths collapsed in November 2008.

PwC moved quickly to close 277 unprofitable stores, which will result in 2,104 redundancies among Game's 5,136 UK employees this week.

The games retailer employs a further 4,000 overseas, where it has 663 stores in countries including Australia and France.

Mike Jervis, the joint administrator at PwC, blamed "serious cashflow and profit issues over the recent past" for Game's demise. He added it had also "suffered from high fixed costs, an ambitious international roll-out and fluctuating working capital requirements".

While PwC will continue to trade the remaining 333 UK stores, the accountancy firm is thought to be working to a timetable of days, rather than weeks, to find a buyer for parts of Game.

This is the preferred option, but retailer's syndicate of six lenders, including taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Barclays, are also discussing a debt-for-equity swap.

This would involve the lenders buying parts of the UK business and hiring a management team to run a much smaller version of the chain until it can be sold.

GameStop, the world's biggest video games retailer, is interested in bidding for the rump of its troubled UK business. The US giant has also been eyeing Game's better-performing operation in Spain, as is the retail restructuring firm Hilco.

The fortunes of Game have unravelled rapidly this year, as its sales have plummeted and major suppliers have withheld their latest games.

Game filed a notice of intention to PwC as administrator last week and suspended trading in its shares at 2.39p.