back to article Empire Direct goes titsup

Another UK retailer has gone titsup - electrical retailer Empire Direct has gone into administration. The Leeds-based chain's 14 warehouse shops and online store are shut as it was unable to trade in administration because of low stock levels. The firm's collapse means 150 jobs have been lost. Customers awaiting orders should …


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  1. Steve

    Sad Times

    Rate shops are shutting we will be only be able to shop at erm :-





    Mind you Empire where a tad expensive (Glad didnt go to Merry Hill on sunday to order me new tv.)

  2. Stuart


    Have used ED in the past and the service and pricing was good. But that was sometime ago. Has their service gone bad or are the 150 employees yet more victims of these stupid bankers who, it would appear, starved them of funds to trade.

    Its a shame to lose people who actually provide a useful service. Empty places on the high street and net. Shame it isn't folks like RBS who had an apparently perfect record of putting money where they shouldn't (including the amazing Mr Madoff!) and then expecting us to bail them out.

    And when it comes to administration the only people to benefit are the self same 'accountancy' firms that failed to spot and stop those balance sheet blackholes and the other major financial institutions. And accused forecasters like us that we didn't understand a financial instruments that they obviously had no real clue about.

    Even telephone sanitisers are more use </rant>

  3. Jimmy Floyd

    Sad but predictable

    My one and only experience with Empire was when I bought a PSP from them in 2005 and they sent a Japanese-spec version. This might have been manageable were it not for the fact that the functions for the O and X buttons are reversed on these consoles. I was left with an impression of a less-than-professional company cutting corners.

    That said, it's always sad when a business goes titsup. Unfortunately there will be more retailers like Empire in the months to come.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Electrical Retailer List

    "The company was one of the few alternatives to DSGi brands like Currys and PC World"

    We need a list. Here is a start...

    John Lewis (

    Hughes Direct (

    Tesco Direct (

    Co-op Electrical (

    Comet (

    As DSGi may go bust anytime soon (and, based on previous comments, there will be little sympathy from El Reg readers), we need to know there is some competition in the UK...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Bankers & Bank of England

    "yet more victims of these stupid bankers who, it would appear, starved them of funds to trade."

    If you think that, then: Good news! Soon Bank of England will 'buy' bonds and other 'assets' from companies using 'money'.

    Well not really 'money', it doesn't have any, but it will print some more as needed to buy the 'assets' at market value.

    Well not really 'assets', more like things nobody else wants to buy that are too expensive to be sold in the market, and not really market value, because if people don't want to buy them they have no value.

    And BOE will buy bonds too, not really regular company bonds, because companies don't need money to expand during times of recession. Only Zombie companies, that need money to live a little longer, issue bonds during a recession. And nobody wants to buy those bonds unless they carry a premium. But heck, the Bank of England wants to buy them!

    Oh, but if the company couldn't survive before, how will it survive if it has to pay interest as well? Doesn't matter, the BOE will buy more of their bonds, it can't let them fail, because it would have to price the existing bonds to their true market value and that would make BOE look insolvent, and hence UK insolvent.

    And how will their competitors survive competing against a company favoured with essentially free unlimited BOE money? It can't issue bonds and receive funding in the regular market, because who would compete with the BOE to buy bonds when the BOE is paying with free money? No matter, the Bank of England can bail them out with free money too. Just like the US is bailing everyone out now.



    excuse my cynicism, Empire direct went into liquidation because they had trading losses (it says right there on the site) and nobody wanted to lend to them to cover their losses because lending to a loss making company in a tight market is to waste money. After 25 years if they didn't have enough money to cover their stocks, what chance of paying back a loan with interest in the next 5?

    What will happen is the Bank of England will make itself the only lender in the corporate market and you may aswell spend what money you have because your savings will be worthless.

    This 'quantitative easing' did not work in Japan like they claim, it's pure insanity that will eventually collapse their currency... and now it comes to Britain, along with a sham insurance scheme and a policy of concealing the money supply number.

    On the bright side, Brown will receive 'insurance' premiums in the short term and will not have to write down the worthless junk until the mid to long term, so he gets to prop up the government finance for an election.

  6. David Lawrence
    Thumb Up

    They treated my sister appallingly

    Took her money and didn't deliver the goods (flat screen TV). Kept fobbing her off for weeks with on excuse after another, then kept lying to her and telling her they had issued a refund when they hadn't. Several times she had someone on the phone telling her they were authorising the refund as they spoke, and yet still nothing. Turns out they never had any stock of the TV in question from start to finish, and had taken her money under false pretences. She did a refund in the end but she was treated really badly from start to finish.

    I'm not surprised at all by this news.

    Thumbs up cos I won't miss them one bit.

  7. Bo Pedersen

    the list?

    well I have found dealing with retailers online has been the best way to go

    amazon support lots of smaller ones



    just go on pricerunner or your favourite comparison site to find where the value lives

    Empire direct used to be really competitive, they had a small charged membership that would get you extra discounts, however at 1-2 electrical purchases a year this didnt amount to much

    and their normal prices werent that good.

    Expect the supermarkets and argos to start selling more branded products as the big brands look for outlets

  8. Gordon

    They were pricey

    RGB and superfi were nearly always cheaper.

    If I was pricerunner I would be worried though - they are going to be comparing 1 site at this rate.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds about right...

    ... emailed them a month or two ago with regard to purchase of a new TV.. didn't get a response.

    Bought elsewhere.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    What happened?

    In their early days, Empire Direct were the ideal online reatailer: low prices, fast delivery and great service. Last year something seemed to go wrong, with prices shooting up to such a degree that Comet looked cheap by comparison.

    What the *beep* happened? Management greed? High costs of running retail outlets? (I didn't know they had any until I read it here, I must admit)

    Oh well, there are plenty of alternatives. Electrical123 are my current faves - they're actually the Co-Op, but with lower prices than Co-op Electrial.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Low Stocks

    No surprise low stocks are a problem, it was months back.

    I went to one of their bricks and mortar outlets in early November to get a TV (our 10 years old telly was starting to markedly deteriorate in performance) as the TV was similar price as the internet alternatives, TV was only available from a few retailers(with inbuilt HDD as wife did not want separate recorder as likes dislikes too many wires!), obviously a TV is bulky and fragile so given fairly level playing field in terms of price, I preferred manual collection from store and thus easy return if any problems.

    They had the product on the shelves, but none in stock to walk away with, so I placed order and it took 2 weeks to arrive, not .

    Running excessively “just in time” stock is a bad idea, as it leads to too many “out of stock” situations – in this case if what I wanted was available at more retailers I would just have said forget it and gone to an alternative one. In this case the shop was directly adjacent to a Currys on a big industrial estate, both big warehouse style buildings and so plenty of room for stock, so I am sure many a customer would walk next door and look at alternatives in an out of stock situation.

    The ED employee who dealt with my seller informed me I was lucky as the price was to increase by 30 quid in the week following my purchase….

    I told him I was not lucky as, if the price had been higher, I would have ordered it online instead.

    However the cynic in me thought at the time, Christmas is next month, up the prices to gouge Christmas electrical item purchasers, then be able to show big reductions in the January sales when the prices are cut.

    But if their lack of stock continued quite how they would have profiteered much over Christmas is a mystery.

    Their collapse has rather defeated the point of the bricks and mortar easy return idea, in retrospect I should have gone the online order way and saved a fiver!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Ah well, there goes my warranty....

    I recently bough a TV off them with a 5 year warranty. I guess that is now not worth the email it's written on :(

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward

    'I recently bough a TV off them with a 5 year warranty. I guess that is now not worth the email it's written on :('

    You're okay if it's a manufacturer's warranty - in which case as long as the maker is in business you're okay; or if ED sold another company's policy. If there's another name on the policy give them a ring and see if you're covered. You're only absolutely screwed if it was an ED extended warranty.

  14. Tee


    The Banking system is the biggest blag ever created.

    Money that doesn't exist! Hight interest on this, charges for the other!

    Blah blah banking blah.

    Look up 'Fractional Reserve Banking'.

    The bank is the devil.

  15. Jimmy Floyd

    @Stuart @AC

    "...yet more victims of these stupid bankers..."

    The bankers played their part, definitely. But if you blame them you also need to blame those who borrowed money up to their eyeballs, thought house prices could only ever go up and believed money could be free via the amazing medium of 're-financing.'

    That would be Joe Public, then. Thee and me. Bugger.

    Mr and Mrs British-Voter also put Gordon's party in charge - thrice! And as Anonymous Coward implied at 12:45, that's going to prove a poor choice in time.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Weren't they one of those shops that really sold credit rather than goods? If so, it's hardly surprising that they've gone titsup in the current economic climate.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    I also blame the bankers.....

    .......for ED demise.

    Basically, if the banks hadn't lent money so freely in the first place, stores like Empire wouldn't have survived in the first place, with customers borrowing and companies like ED also borrowing, what a way to live.

    As for morality of bankers and hedge funds, I still can't believe selling "short" is legal. Also, director's bonuses - this should be illegal. If a director is unable to do his job on a salary and needs a bonus to shift his arse then somethings smells worse then his hairy arse - greed!

  18. Antony

    PCWorld are not an option

    I would rather wait a month for delivery then buy a keyboard from those charlatans.

    I bought a netbook from them every couple of days the screen dies, but since their in house software testing doesn't find my hardware fault and testing for the hardware fault I described would be "an unreasonable demand on their time" they will not fix, replace or refund me in spite of the craptop being less then 5 months old. Buy from a supermarket at least they will not pretend they are qualified to assess faulty products and just give you the refund consumer law entitles you.

    Flame cause I've been burnt and I look forward to watching them burn, after all before their shop opened there where lots of small helpful honest computer retailers who understood what the products they sold were used for.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Cut price data pimping

    I wonder how many disgruntled soon-to-be-former employees of the imploding retail sector are going to be raising a few beer tokens by pimping customer data and bank details to the highest bidder?

    I blame the bankers as well. Their ridiculous 'free lunch' mentality has dug one hell of a deep hole. Funny how so many supposedly 'clever' people (or so we were told when the government wanted to act as apologists for the bonuses) actually weren't. At all.

    Paris, proving that you don't need to be 'clever' to coin it.

  20. Neil Greatorex

    @Electrical Retailer List

    Always excellent service.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Sad Day for a Geat Company

    I cannot tell you how shocked I am with the sad news of Empire Direct. Reading the statements from the Administrators, it seems that another fundamentally sound company was taken down by the credit insurers. Good companies can still make losses sometime in their life provided they can get themselves out of it with some support. Empire Direct had a solid track record for 25 years. I hope to see this company back in action very soon.

  22. Oz

    Yeah, right...

    " They are trying to work out what the situation is for customers who have paid for goods but not received them."

    Easy - they won't see any of it back. Banks will get the first shout, then suppliers, and there'll be nothing left for customers. Sad, but true, and it happens nearly every damn time a company goes down. I just hope the punters used credit cards to purchase - they'll at least have some comeback.

  23. James Prior

    @ BLoad

    You think KPMG are bad? You're just lucky it's not BDO - they shut down every company they go into with no intention of delivering stock.

    At least other companies sometimes try and keep the company going to sell it off as a going concern. BDO are the lovely company that made me redundant from in 2005 so I'm bound to hold a grudge :)

  24. James Hughes

    @Antony re: PCWorld

    Less than 1 year old with a demonstrable fault? Sue the bastaards. Or at least threaten to. Or stand outside the front door, shouting at people going in that PCWorld are a bunch of hopeless idiots who don't abide by their legal requirements. (And put the video on YouTube)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've have mixed experiences of Empire Direct

    I went in before Xmas and told the salesman I was looking for a TV with built-in DVD player. "We don't stock them, they're too unreliable." "You don't stock them at all?" "No." "Not even that one there, or that one?" "Ah, they're a new line, they're really good and excellent value..."

    Exit non-purchasing customer...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Crumbling Empire

    This company's balance sheet has been weak for several years now. Asset structure and funding was pointing to serious cash problems despite suggested historical profit and net assets. This "empire" was built on sand. Too much borrowing and debt and too much cash taken out in dividends. You can't pay bills with stock and buildings heavily was bound to happen soon, events just speeded it up a little ...

    There will be more like this....

  27. MinionZero

    150 jobs, turnover £150m year!, yet goes titsup?!?

    How can a company with 150 jobs that makes an average turnover of £150 Million per year go out of business!!?! ... Thats a turnover of 1 Million per employee!!! ... surely there is enough income from £1M to pay someone's wages?!?? ... Sounds more like the bosses are raking in the huge wages and now while times are harder, they have canned the company, so they can sit on their savings from years of their big wages, until things improve. (I guess they will then go on to open new businesses once the economy improves ... So much for all the loyal staff now out of a job).

    I've seen this business stunt before ... It keeps reminding me how so often staff loyalty isn't returned by bosses loyalty to staff, so no point in staff being loyal.

  28. c
    Thumb Down

    empire direct

    this company got rid of 150 of its 350 saff butt it still has the remaning staff working inside all its buildings dealing with the stock that is left inside right now, most of it new sealed stock , if i was still owed goods/money i would be waiting for the Management to open the gates and make sure i received my goods,£50/£2000 is some peoples life saving just for the Government

    to say sorry but its tuff luck you have lost it.

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