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The 34-year-old is now immersing himself in the fast and exciting world of Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo Wii after opening the latest CHIPS video games store in Longton, Stoke-On-Trent.

CHIPS, which has more than 30 outlets across the country, buys, sells and trades consoles, games and accessories.

Stephen, who lives in Milehouse, Newcastle Under Lyme, discovered the CHIPS franchise on the internet.

'I had worked in retail before becoming a plumber and decided I wanted a retail franchise. When I typed that into the internet I found CHIPS. The more I investigated the more I realised it was the store for me,' said Stephen.

'With the launch of the Nintendo Wii on December 8 and the new PS3 in March, combined with the great games on the shelves for the Xbox 360 and hand-held consoles this is the perfect time to open a games store.'

After securing a site with the help of CHIPS in The Strand, Longton, Stephen embarked on an intensive two-week training course while his store was expertly fitted out.

'The training was fantastic and the more I spoke to other CHIPS franchisees the more excited I became at the prospect of opening my own store.'

Stephen, who opened the doors to his shop at 71 The Strand this weekend, (December 2) is working in the store full-time and is employing his friend and ex-plumbing colleague Mathew Lovatt full-time too.

'Mathew has been playing video games since he was eight and his knowledge is fantastic,' said Stephen. 'His enthusiasm for the industry and CHIPS really helped me make my mind up about starting this new career. We met while training to be plumbers and work well together.'

Stephen's store is now fully stocked with all the latest consoles, games and accessories as well as a huge range of second-hand and retro consoles and games. The shop also carries a range of trading cards, which are extremely popular at present and toys associated with the video games world.

'Opening so soon before Christmas is a bit of a challenge but I am sure we will cope well,' said Stephen.

CHIPS Longton will be open six days a week from Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5.30pm. Stephen also plans to open most Sundays in the run-up to Christmas and between Christmas and New Year.

CHIPS Joint Managing Director Nik Agar said: 'Stephen had a lot of experience in consumer retailing before becoming a plumber and this will stand him in great stead with CHIPS. This industry moves very fast but it is great fun to work in and I am sure Stephen will do very well.'


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