Computer games retailer Game has conceded that it was unable to meet demand for a new console from Sony after revealing first-half losses had widened sharply.
Game said orders for the Sony PSP console had been so strong that all units had sold out of its 397 stores in the UK and Ireland within three weeks of its debut.
Many customers who have paid a deposit for the Sony PSP have not received their console even though Sony dispatched 200,000 units to the UK following its launch on September 1, Game said.
Chief executive Martin Long said only a limited number of units had been delivered by Sony in past days, preventing Game from replenishing store shelves.
But he dispelled fears that Game could suffer similar woes to last Christmas when an " unprecedented breakdown" in the supply of PlayStation 2 consoles led to sales falling by a fifth.
"Sony are very confident about their shipping target for the year which is about one million (PSP) units. We would classify it as a timing issue," Mr Long said.
Details emerged as Game said pretax losses for the six months to July 31 widened to £ 14 . 7 million from £3.5 million because of software selling at cheaper prices and consumers being more picky about how they spend their cash than before.
The setback was expected by analysts who noted that like-for-like sales were down 5.4 per cent in the period despite the launch of the handheld Nintendo DS.
Turnover rose from £ 213 million to £220.8 million.
Game said the buzz around the PSP had helped to slow the rate of decline to 4.4 per cent in the eight weeks to September 24, although UK and Irish sales were 7.9 per cent worse off than last year.
News of a 15 per cent rise in the interim dividend and a pledge to speed up its store opening programme in continental Europe, where recent sales are 13.7 per cent ahead of last year, failed to shore up sentiment, with shares in Game falling four per cent.
In addition to its UK and Irish stores, Game has 256 wholly owned branches and franchises in France, Spain and Scandinavia. It plans to have more than 295 outlets on the Continent in time for Christmas.
Chairman Peter Lewis said the expansion was necessary because of the anticipated launch of new consoles such as the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 over the coming year.