The video game retailer GameStop, which prompted an outcry by trying to declare itself an “essential” business in the midst of coronavirus shutdowns before closing all of its stores nationwide, is now struggling for survival.
Since going public in 1992, GameStop has fought to remain a leading provider of hardware and software for gamers, but as its audience increasingly adopts mobile and free gaming, the company’s bottom line has been on a downward slope. In its annual earnings report last Thursday, the company reported $6.5 billion in annual revenues in 2019, down 24% from the previous year. And while GameStop cut its net losses 35% last year, the company still remained $470 million in the red for the year.
“GameStop already had it tough going into this year, confronted by new seismic shifts to mobile and cloud-based subscription gaming,” said Peter Csathy, chairman and founder of Creatv Media, a consulting firm that advises gaming and media companies. “And now this pandemic, which instantaneously shutters much of the retail world… Those are 1-2 gut punches that have the potential to knock them out.”
The retail chain, which permanently shuttered 320 stores in 2019, expects to close at least that many in 2020 — plans that were in place even before the coronavirus pandemic upended the entire retail sector. As of last December, the company had roughly 5,700 outlets in all.
Just last week, GameStop pushed states to allow its stores to remain open amid the spreading COVID-19 pandemic, arguing they provide “essential” work-from-home products. In GameStop’s earnings report, the stores were shown to be anything but essential — they’re actually an asset GameStop is working hard to divest.
GameStop’s sales of both hardware and software continued to dip last year, and CEO George Sherman said in the earnings call that is likely because consumers are refraining from buying consoles until the newest ones — the PlayStation 5 from Sony and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X — hit the shelves this holiday season.
With declining sales, GameStop is also tightening the belt on inventory, reducing its total stock by roughly 31% from nearly $1.2 billion in the prior year. “The working capital improvement they’ve seen… and the inventory, in particular, has been quite astonishing,” Jeffries analyst Stephanie Wissink said during the earnings call.
GameStop Chief Financial Officer Jim Bell said the company is evaluating “under-performing” business sectors, closing operations in European markets that aren’t profitable — including Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. “We expect to exit these markets in late July, earlier than we had originally expected,” Bell said.
The sale of the stores is essential for GameStop, which owes a total debt of $419 million. That’s nearly half of what it had been a year ago as the company has been busy shedding assets — but it’s still substantial given the volatility from the pandemic.
With more stuck-at-home gamers, Gamestop can still sell most of its software online, and users can purchase instant download codes. Collectibles are also still available for delivery via online couriers.
“We’ve seen an increase in store and online traffic over the past few weeks,” Sherman said last Thursday. “We remain committed to continuing to meet those needs in a safe environment.” Sherman also said that as of last week the impact of shipping and delivery delays has been “minimal.”
But many observers believe all the recent belt-tightening won’t be enough as GameStop faces a very tangible threat from mobile gaming and free-to-play games, plus newly emerging subscription game services like Google’s Stadia or NVIDIA’s GeForce. “That need to adapt is now more like an existential crisis,” Csathy said, urging the company to “establish a plan right now to transition to — or integrate with — mobile and cloud-based gaming services and their completely different business models.”
“Otherwise, GameStop faces the ghosts of Blockbuster’s past,” Csathy said, citing another bricks-and-mortar entertainment retailer who was upstaged by digital rivals like Netflix.
www.thewrap.com | 3/31/20
Judy Garland’s fifth and last husband, Mickey Deans, wasn’t especially beloved by her whole family.
As played by Finn Wittrock in 20 Century Fox’s “Judy,” Deans was a smooth operator who charmed his way into the legend’s life during her declining years. A jazz pianist and manager of a hot New York disco at the time, he was 12 years her junior and, for a time, showered her with the adoration she craved.
But Garland’s family, including daughters Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft and her ex-husband, Sid Luft, had a weird, unhappily-ever-after feeling about Deans from the beginning. In fact, Minnelli didn’t attend their London wedding.
In Lorna’s book “Me and My Shadows: A Family Memoir,” she recalls Minelli begging off by saying, “I can’t make it, Mamma, but I promise I’ll come to your next one!”
Lorna wrote that when she heard about her mother’s wedding on the evening news, she thought to herself, “Who the hell is Mickey Deans?'”
Whatever her family’s opinions, Garland spoke about her love for Deans in what would turn out to be her last interview. She told Radio Denmark:
Deans goes into detail about their life together in his book “Weep No More, My Lady,” which was published three years after her death and says she leaned on him heavily. He also testifies to the profundity of their love.
“There were also many hours in the early dawn when my wife and I found love that had never existed before either of us,” Deans wrote.
Three months after Garland and Deans’ exchanged vows, she died of an accidental overdose of barbiturates. At an inquest in London, Coroner Gavin Thurston said that her autopsy showed there was no drug residue in her stomach, meaning that she had ingested the drugs over a long period of time, not all at once.
Lorna wrote that Deans’ actions the day of Garland’s funeral didn’t exactly endear him to her.
“In a move that takes my breath away to this very day when I think of it, Mickey had scheduled a meeting and wanted me to go along,” Lorna wrote, adding that Deans and another man “discussed some sort of business deal” in her presence.
“Months later someone told me the other man was a publisher, and that Mickey had arranged to stop by on the way back from my mother’s funeral to cut a deal on a Judy Garland biography. I don’t know if it was true, but his book did come out a couple of years later under the title, ‘Weep No More, My Lady.’ Needless to say, I didn’t buy a copy. Mickey Deans. What a putz.”
Lorna added that, “for a long time after I learned what killed her, I blamed Mickey Deans.”
Lorna’s father and Garland’s third husband, Sid Luft (who produced “A Star Is Born,” which earned her an Oscar nomination), didn’t pull any punches in his memoir “Judy & I: My Life With Judy Garland.”
“She would pop those things like candy,” Luft wrote about Garland’s use of Seconal, “so you’d have to watch her. Judy would tell me, ‘Don’t put more than three Seconal by my bed,’ and I’m sure she told him, too. I have to believe that Deans did it purposely. They say Judy had 30 or 40 Seconal next to her bed, and Deans was nowhere to be found. He disappeared, this f—!”
After Garland’s death, Deans had a four-year relationship with Rose Driscoll, and they adopted a son, Richard. Deans moved to Cleveland in the late 1970s, where he lived until his death in 2003 from congestive heart failure. He never remarried.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 9/27/19
With very few natural resources, the economy of Denmark relies almost entirely on human resources. The service sector makes up the vast amount of the employment and economy. Its industrialised market economy depends on imported raw materials and foreign trade. Within the European Union, Denmark advocates a liberal trade policy. Its standard of living is average among the Western European countries - and for many years the most equally distributed as shown by the Gini coefficient - in the world, and the Danes devote 0.8% of Gross National Income (GNI) to foreign aid. It is a society based on consensus (dialogue and compromise) with the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Danish Employers in 1899 in Septemberforliget (The September Settlement) recognising each others right to organise, thus, negotiate. The employer's right to hire and fire their employees whenever they find it necessary is recognised. Denmark produces oil, natural gas, wind- and bio-energy. Its principal exports are machinery, instruments and food products. The US is Denmark's largest non-European trading partner, accounting for around 5% of total Danish merchandise trade. Aircraft, computers, machinery, and instruments are among the major US exports to Denmark. There are several hundred US-owned companies in Denmark, some of them just registered for tax purposes, which is beneficial for holding companies. Among major Danish exports to the U.S. are industrial machinery, chemical products, furniture, pharmaceuticals, lego and canned ham and pork.