Free Record Shop Holding, the largest Benelux chain of entertainment stores, posted a loss of €1.2 million ($1.6 million) in its financial year ended Sept. 30, 2009.

Total income for Free Record Shop (FRS), consisting of 313 stores and 37 franchise stores, amounted to €300 million ($409 million).

That was a fall of 8.6% on the 2007-2008 financial year income of €328 million ($ million). FRS made a profit of €12.4 million ($447 million) to Sept. 30, 2008, a result that benefited from the sale of Free Record Shop Norway.

FRS blamed reorganizations and investments, which amounted to €7.2 million ($9.8 million), for the negative outcome.

Free Record Shop Holding operates stores under four brand names: Free Record Shop, vanLeest, Game Mania (a chain of specialist game stores) and FAME, an entertainment megastore in Amsterdam.

In early 2009, FRS decided upon "optimizing" its stores and structure, and the majority of vanLeest shops were converted into Game Mania stores or Free Record Shops, leaving only 15 vanLeest branches. VanLeest's head office and logistic center were closed down and integrated in Free Record Shop Holding's head quarters. All 255 Free Record Shops were revamped.

At the end of 2008, FRS had already opened its first "experience shop" in Antwerp, Belgium. Plans to expand the number of shops with this expensive formula have since been abandoned.

All costs regarding to the company reorganization have been taken in the last financial year, which is - apart from the economical situation - the main reason for FRS's negative performance, the company said in a statement.

In November 2009, after closing the financial year 2008-2009, FRS bought 50% of the shares of Expo Retail Holding, a chain of gift shops. This move is expected to have a positive effect on its results. With this cooperation, FRS aims to further optimize its retail chain, emphasizing entertainment products and adding gifts and fun products to its retail offer.

In December 2009, FRS took over ten Extrazone stores and the entertainment Web shop Mediadis from Sonica, the now defunct Belgian chain of entertainment and electronics retailers.

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