Increased market share helps Rhino to record: Virgin stores purchase plays part in surge

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RHINO, the USM-listed specialist retailer of video and computer games, said yesterday that an increase in its market share at the expense of large chains helped to bring record profits in 1993.

While turnover was nearly five times higher than in 1992 at pounds 21.7m, pre-tax profits rose more than twelvefold to pounds 2m. The final dividend was 0.5p - none was paid last year.

Rhino's pounds 12.5m acquisition of Virgin's 30 games stores in November contributed to the results as well as absorbing its biggest competitor. Rhino also opened 42 Future Zone games shops during 1993.

Bev Ripley, chairman, said both sets of outlets, along with Rhino's Downpace licensed merchandise distributor, had a good Christmas season.

Mr Ripley added: 'People who buy games want a wide choice and want to be able to talk to an expert salesperson. There is no doubt that we have taken business away from the chains.'

He predicted that Rhino would end 1994 with more than 10 per cent of the UK market. The company plans to open another 40 Future Zones by the end of the year, most of them in the autumn.

The stores are opening in city centres, and Mr Ripley said: 'As our expansion made us one of the fastest growing retail chains in the UK we have been able to obtain some very favourable terms on prime leasehold sites.'

Rhino said prospects were rosy, pointing to the 2.5 million new sales of games hardware in the UK in 1993 and the introduction of new hardware products already scheduled for this year and next.

Earnings per share advanced from 0.39p to a fully diluted 2.33p. The shares closed 5p higher at 43p.