COMPUTER games retailer Grainger Games has more than doubled its sales in three years and upped profits after growing its store chain and starting to sell mobile phones.
The Newcastle company, founded as a Metrocentre market stall 15 years ago, says it is beating a retail slump which has brought a series of high-profile collapses.
Big names such as Game disappeared last year and more recently HMV hit the skids, but a policy of selling cheaply has led to new stores, even one in upmarket Newcastle department store Fenwick.
The company has not only opened five stores in recent months but relaunched its 71 branches as Trading Station, as well as with its parent company’s brand, to resell second-hand gadgets such as phones, Kindles and cameras, as well as new and second-hand computer games.
It has created 40 jobs at the branches and doubled the size of its warehousing – to around 60,000 sq ft – to cope with extra trade following the expansion.
Sales director Phil Moore said: “We have had a fantastic year. We have seen more people coming into the stores and online sales have been very strong since we relaunched our website in 2011. There has been double-digit growth there too.
“We rolled out the new gadget offer in a couple of months in the summer and it has been extremely popular. Most people have a few phones at home, or old cameras they don’t use any more and we can monetise that for them.”
The company has been growing fast over the last 10 years and had hopes of running 100 stores by this year, but the high street slump has slightly curtailed its ambitions although it still sticks to its ultimate target.
“We are expanding and confident of further growth but in this environment we are being cautious about how far we go,” said Moore.
“We are cutting our coat to suit our cloth. There is no point getting carried away at the moment. We are trying to make our shops work harder for us and have introduced more features like a reward card where people can get money back against products or online games, if they don’t have a credit card to do it online.”
He said the company, which is coming to the end of its financial year, had more than doubled its forecast since last year and seen double-digit growth on last year when it announced sales of £37.3m.
Profits had again been hit by investment in new stores but were still higher than last year’s £260,000. The company said it gave its 370-strong staff a pay rise in recognition of their efforts.
Moore said the company has outperformed the shrinking sector and continues to look for places to open across the North, but is only leasing where it can get a decent deal.
“People are looking for a good deal in a difficult market. Everyone is short of money and our business model reflects that,” said Moore.
Grainger’s management team stays small but has recently grown to take on Simon Peck, the former commercial director of HMV, as commercial director.
The latest branches are in York, Newcastle, Darlington and St Helens as well as moving up to a much larger site from its first store in Ashington.