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Game Group was formally placed into administration on Monday, putting 6,000 jobs at risk, as potential predators circle the troubled video games retailer.
The appointment of administrator PwC was delayed from Friday because of the falling due of a £21m quarterly rent bill.
According to people familiar with the situation, if Game had entered administration on Friday PwC might have been liable for the rent bill, which was due to be paid on Sunday.
The coming days will be nail-biting ones for retail landlords, as many retailers were due to pay three months’ rent in advance on Sunday.
Game, which employs 6,000 people in the UK, said on Wednesday that it had filed a notice to appoint administrators. The filing gave it five days’ breathing space.
The collapse into administration – the biggest failure since Woolworths in 2008 – comes as potential interested parties eye Game’s assets. PwC said it was hopeful that a sale of the business as a going concern could be achieved.
OpCapita, the private equity group that bought Comet for £2 last year, made an offer for the group’s debts before Game put administrators on standby. It is still thought to be looking at the UK assets and some international operations.
GameStop, the US video games retailer, also showed late interest, according to two people familiar with the situation, and is still looking at the group’s international operations. It may be interested in the UK assets but is unlikely to want to pay a significant amount for them.
Hilco, the retail restructuring group, is also eyeing Game’s international assets.
Game’s banks – led by Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays – have been working on plans to close about 300 of Game’s stores, some half of its UK operations, according to several people familiar with the situation.
Although some big store groups were more upbeat last week, conditions remain difficult in the retail sector as consumers continue to be hit by rising fuel prices and, increasingly, the prospect of rising food prices amid fears that dry conditions will affect crops.
However, the recent warm weather will have been good for fashion retailers, encouraging shoppers to buy into new spring ranges, and for DIY chains, as consumers turn their attention to their gardens.