WITH home entertainment playing a key role in filling our leisure time over the past 12 months, the video games industry has undoubtedly been one major beneficiary of lockdown – UK sales have risen more than 30% during the pandemic.

And with the sector generating a record £30 billion last year, Paisley-based online retailer Gamersheek is just one of many independent firms throughout the country now adapting their business model to take advantage of this unprecedented rise in demand.

Sean Lincoln, 35, Managing Director and founder of Gamersheek, confirms turnover has ‘grown massively’ over the past year – but exponential growth has actually been a trend for the firm since its formation in 2015.

“Our first year’s turnover was £4000, year two was £8000, year three was £85,000, then it went up to £352,000,” Mr Lincoln said. “Now, in the financial year ending in March 2021, it is going to be in the region of £1.3m,” he says.

“Obviously because people couldn’t go outside as often, many were looking to play video games to fill the time. They also had more expendable cash to buy collectable merchandise … quite clearly the business benefitted from it.”

As a result of the rise in revenue, Mr Lincoln is now achieving a lifelong goal and opening his own store in Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries on May 1.

“I always wanted to have my own shop. And being very egotistical I wanted my name to be above the door because I have worked in retail for everybody else for over 15 years,” he smiles. 

Mr Lincoln acknowledges that although current trends indicate the gaming industry will one day be almost entirely online, he believes there will always be a place for bricks and mortar stores – many of which will cater for ‘retro’ devices and physical games that are not available digitally.

As well as the hardware and game products themselves, Gamersheek also sells a large selection of collectible merchandise – another fast-growing market within the sector.  Mr Lincoln’s most popular product at present is a Japanese figurine called a Nendoroid. “I’m the largest UK supplier,” he says 

“One of the standout achievements has been the growth in the Japanese market. When I started the firm, I called it Gamersheek because the whole idea was supposed to be gamer fashion, but I quickly moved into the Japanese figure market.”

Mr Lincoln was working as a Senior Buyer at Game Centre – Scotland’s largest video game retailer at the time – until 2015, when he asked his boss if he could start his own company venturing down the merchandise avenue. “I was running GamerSheek from 2015 to 2017 when it became crunch time,” he explains. “It demanded my full attention, so I had to choose whether to give up on that, or my employment with Game Centre.”

After taking the risk to invest in Gamersheek full-time, it proved to be a timely move – with Game Centre going into liquidation just six months later.

After a few years of running Gamersheek from his spare bedroom – and investing in machines to manufacture t-shirt embroidery products – Mr Lincoln soon needed a more flexible workspace.

“I moved into the Paisley Covault premises in 2019,” he says. “When I came to view the offices it was actually the staff that made me choose it – they were very friendly and flexible, you could sense that they were willing to accommodate my awkward needs in trying to get the machines into the place.”

Despite moving into his Buchanan Galleries unit in a matter of days, Mr Lincoln plans on maintaining his Covault workspace for his business needs.

He recognises the move to open a physical store as a risk, with the first six weeks being crucial to evaluate whether appetite in strong enough to extend the year-long lease and hire staff members.

“A great positive and also a great negative is that the website is so advanced that people think we’re bigger than we actually are. They don’t realise it’s just me running operations, I think they think I’ve got a team of around 40 staff,” he comments.

Mr Lincoln credits his “loyal and dedicated” customers as a constant source of support, accelerating his goal of opening a store by a couple of years.

“The long-term aspiration is to secure the old Tower Records unit in Glasgow,” he admits. “I want to have a community hub in Glasgow for customers and fans. In my vision the bottom floor of Tower Records would be a retail store, the middle would be a geek retreat where customers can play their trading cards, and upstairs would be an arcade.”

Along with the Glasgow store, Mr Lincoln is also setting his sights on opening pop-up shops in both London and Birmingham this year.


This article appears as part of The Herald's Entrepreneur campaign, in association with CoVault Flexible Workspace.