Two Hastings town centre shops could face closure

ANOTHER two shops in the town centre face an uncertain future as the recession continues to hit trade.

GAME, which has a shop in Priory Meadow Shopping Centre, and GameStation, in Queens Road, are at risk of shutting as the company filed for administration this week, putting 6,000 UK jobs at risk.

The GAME Group, which owns both chains, and stocks video games and consoles, is hoping 300 of its 600 stores in the country can be saved.

John Hough, mamager of Priory Meadow Shopping Centre, said: “Game as a national multiple has been hit by both supermarket competition and online sales over the last few years.

“There have been numerous instances over the last couple of years where this has happened with other retailers who have a presence in Priory Meadow, and in almost every case the company has been bought out of administration, and the store has carried on trading in one guise or another.

“In general the shops here have been profitable enough to avoid being part of the inevitable closure plan, and we have been prepared to progress deals that support continued trading. Although it’s a worrying time for the staff, I am of the view that a buyer will come forward and that Game will remain part of our retail offer.”

Two years ago, the company, which also has more than 600 overseas stores, made a profit of £90 million. In 2007 it bought GameStation.

Hastings has seen a mixed bag in town centre trade since Christmas.

Clothing chain Next, which employed around 20 staff, closed its Priory Meadow shop on December 29 last year.

Past Times shut its doors at the start of January after the company, which specialised in retro-themed gifts, became the latest victim of the recession.

The Early Learning Centre’s Priory Meadow store also closed last month.

It was also feared clothing store Peacocks, in Queens Road, and Bonmarché, in Priory Meadow, would close after they went into administration in January.

But both stores were bought by new companies.

A spokesman for the GAME Group said: “Further to the announcement of the suspension of trading in shares, the board has concluded that its discussions with all stakeholders and other parties have not made sufficient progress in the time available to offer a realistic prospect for a solvent solution for the business.

“The board has therefore filed a notice of intention to appoint an administrator.

“In the short term the board’s intention is that the business will continue to trade and discussions with lenders and third parties will continue.”