A Mecca for games enthusiasts in Aberdeen has said it is attracting a host of new events to the city despite facing challenging times on the high street.
Geek Retreat brought its distinct “geek culture” mix of retail, gaming café, community hub and events venue to Union Street in February.
Scott Leslie, the franchisee of the Aberdeen outlet, said the store has achieved a number of “wins” for its growing fanbase despite facing a cost-of-living crisis that has hit the pocketbooks of customers and staff alike.
Mr Leslie, from Ellon, said one of the highlights was achieving the “highly sought after title of premium store status” with US fantasy and science fiction-themed games firm, Wizards of the Coast.
“This brings with it a multitude of privileges for guests attending our events in Aberdeen. We are currently the only store in Grampian to achieve this status,” he said.
The shop will also play host to its first official YuGiOh OTS Championship in November. A regional qualifier for another popular trading card game, Magic the Gathering, is also on the cards for Aberdeen.
“So whilst Aberdeen has shown a challenging retail climate during a difficult economic time, the store in Aberdeen continues to bring new and exciting values such as these to the area,” Mr Leslie said.
Geek culture boom
Geek Retreat in Aberdeen is one of a growing network of outlets dedicated to providing a unique and fun place for people to enjoy hobbies and interests.
The chain opened its first store in Glasgow in 2013 and now has 57 stores compared to ten at the end of 2019.
The Glasgow-based organisation hailed record sales over the first nine months of 2022 despite challenging conditions.
The firm highlighted that revenues grew 138% over the year so far, despite having cooled down recent expansion ambitions in the face of a difficult economic backdrop.
The retailer said it has closed 14 stores this year due to poor financial performance or changes in franchisee circumstances such as illness, but stressed bosses are “working hard to get as many of them reopened as possible”.
It said it plans to have 70 stores operating in total at the end of the year.
Geek Retreat said its business strategy will ensure stores improve turnover, profitability and customer feedback “in a challenging economic climate and as the cost-of-living crisis bites”.
These plans have included significant investment and support to help franchise stores become more financially resilient as consumer spending comes under pressure and cost pressures continue.
Peter Dobson, chief executive of Geek Retreat, said: “Like many businesses on the high street, the pandemic had a big impact on us and made us think differently about what success looked like.
“We want all Geek Retreat stores to maximise their potential, both financially and to provide our incredibly loyal customers with a safe, inclusive, and entertaining environment.
“Our new approach is working well as we continue to achieve record sales days.
“This year we have achieved an important milestone of £1 million of sales in a month across the estate and we have broken that record several times over since.
“Like all businesses in today’s economic climate, we are keeping a close eye on performance, but I am confident that we have the best possible team and resources in place to help franchisees who want their stores to succeed.”
Visit your friendly local store
Mr Leslie added: “As with most friendly local games stores, they thrive or fall based on the support they receive from their local community.
“We’ve worked really hard to grow our community since February and we’ve definitely acquired some regulars, but we always need more!”