GameStop turns to comic books as it looks for new revenue growth

Brian Womack
Customers browse collectible video game merchandise for sale at a GameStop Corp. store in West Hollywood, California.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

GameStop may get more help from the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman and Iron Man.

The video game retailer is looking at how traditional comic books will sell under a test program for about 40 stores, the company said in a prepared statement. GameStop (NYSE: GME) already sells super hero-themed collectibles such as shirts and toys, but this is its first foray into offering the panel-filled pages.

"Comics are often a part of our promotional entertainment industry environment, including video games – we can learn from this tribal knowledge," the company said in the statement. "The comics are mostly from Marvel and DC with a focus on key series and titles."

GameStop has pushed into new revenue lines to help buoy its overall business, which has been under pressure from competition that includes online sales. The collectibles piece of its business, though relatively small, grew 24 percent during the first quarter while overall sales declined by 5.5 percent.

The announcement comes amid a shake-up in the company's executive ranks. Late last month, the company said Shane Kim, a former Microsoft executive, will serve as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found. He succeeded Dan DeMatteo, executive chairman, who took the title about three weeks earlier after CEO Mike Mauler stepped down "for personal reasons." Mauler had the top spot for just three months.

GameStop, which also expects the fiscal year to post a decline in sales, sees the collectibles business as a good place to invest, and the test could lead to more stores getting into comic books. The company has more than 7,200 retail stores and operates in more than 14 countries, according to its website.

"This is just a small launch to bring comics to some of our collectibles stores as they fit with the current trend of collectibles that are performing in the market," the company said in the statement. "Should this prove successful, we may consider rolling out to additional stores in the future."

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