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Game announces ‘false’ Norwich store closure in bid to lower rent

PUBLISHED: 15:05 06 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:02 06 February 2020

Game in Norwich intu Chapelfield has been earmarked for closure. Picture: Archant

Game in Norwich intu Chapelfield has been earmarked for closure. Picture: Archant

Archant

Game has announced it is set to close its store in Norwich – but sources claim the firm is only threatening to shut to drive rents down.

A source said the gaming company has no desire to shut the shop and has only made the announcement to renegotiate rent agreements with Chapelfield owner Intu.

The strategy apparently mirrors that employed by House of Fraser boss Mike Ashley when he managed to save the department store by bartering with landlords. Mr Ashley also owns a large stake in Game.

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So far the shop and its staff have not been given a closure date.

The source said: "We're not actually going to close - it's false. Just look at what happened when Mike Ashley was negotiating with Intu over House of Fraser. They said that would close and it's still here."

Mr Ashley owns a 40pc stake in Game Digital following a £52 million takeover in June 2019.

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A spokesman for Game said: "As part of our property strategy over the coming year, Game will look at all store leases and decide whether the locations are a viable option in the current retail climate. Over the next few months Game will be seeking rent reductions from landlords across the whole estate as we look to optimise the company's current portfolio."

In November 2018 House of Fraser announced it would be pulling out of sites owned by Intu - including Norwich.

However in January 2019 House of Fraser announced it would remain open in the city centre.

Game announced last month that it is planning to close 40 sites across the UK and has served notice to 27 sites.

However only a handful of the stores have been named including Norwich, Bexleyheath, Canterbury, Carmarthen, Derby, Glasgow Fort, Lakeside, Leicester, Mansfield and Watford.

Game has confirmed that most of the outlets impacted by the announcement are owned by Intu and New River.

A Game spokesman added: "Our community are extremely important to us and we are always looking to give customers and players the best experience possible. We have opened five new stores recently, one of which is Oxford Street, and we will continue to create news stores and arenas in 2020."

Game's other Norwich store is not impacted by the announcement.

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