Ryan Cohen, the co-founder of Chewy.com, has called for a technology-centric makeover at GameStop, arguing this would help the company seize the “tremendous opportunities in the rapidly-growing” gaming sector.
Cohen, the biggest individual investor in GameStop with a near-10% stake, said in a Monday letter to the board that the company’s bricks-and-mortar-centric business model has cost it billions of dollars in lost annual revenue and squandered a massive amount of market share.
The activist pointed out that GameStop’s sales have plunged from $9.5 billion in fiscal year 2011 to $6.4 billion in fiscal year 2019 while earnings have dropped from $839 to $111 million.
To correct this “long-term secular decline” GameStop should “immediately” launch a strategic review of the business and devise a “credible” plan to transform itself into “technology-first” company, Cohen said.
Cohen wants GameStop to reduce the number of physical stores, streamline or sell its non-core operations in Europe and Australia, and focus on “building a powerful e-commerce platform.”
The company should also explore other tech-driven opportunities in areas such as esports, mobile gaming, and game streaming, the activist added.
The investor argued these steps could enable GameStop to own “a bigger share of the market when estimated industry sales explode to more than $200 billion per year in 2023.”
GameStop earlier this year lost a proxy fight with Permit Capital and Hestia Capital Partners. The activists won two board seats after pushing for changes that included a new strategy shaped around core gaming assets and a further reduction of the company’s physical footprint.
Although Cohen and the two activists are apparently looking for roughly the same strategy changes, the co-founder of Chewy.com said he would not settle for a director seat on the company’s 10-member board but wants to see GameStop implement a strategy for bringing the business “into the 21st Century.”
Cohen, through his vehicle RC Ventures, first revealed a 9% stake in GameStop in late August. The stock soared 24% the following day.
Shares in GameStop climbed more than 15% during Monday trading and closed the day up 9.5%.