Ok - no preorders it is then...
...and the January sale could be interesting.
Yet another major credit insurer has abandoned geek emporium Maplin Electronics. Euler Hermes – the biggest trade indemnifier in the tech sector – has entirely removed all lines of coverage, El Reg can reveal. The decision, enacted on Friday, will come as a fresh blow to private equity-owned Maplin, potentially heaping …
They are a retailer. IE most of their business is 1 off stuff.
Not through customer accounts.
And they want 120 days to pay their suppliers.
In the country with the 2nd worse business payments record in the EU (only Italy has a more relaxed attitude of companies paying other companies).
BTW is that £12m+ number a profit or a loss IOW have they reduces losses or profits from last yr?
except Maplins are/were charging £359 for a Celestron nexstar 130 SLT (computerised telescope) - whilst in USA it is nearer $350 (natch, 1$=1£) a markup that we can live with etc VAT etc
In EU, the same telescope was typically being sold north of €500, [one 'prime' location demanding €567 at present,] which (after some math) means that Maplin were charging £141 LESS than the hard core EU xmas market distortion.
Their SLT has now gone up to £400, still a cool hundred euro saving, and I'm not sure if it is 'tat' but I'd say it's not that overpriced!
you might be right about much of their other stuff!
Like this (didn't even know you could get patch cable this short til I saw it when in the shop yesterday!)
Perfect for patching from switch to PoE injector. I'll grant you, that's a bit of a fringe case. I have a handful around the house from when I was self-employed and doing a lot of that, though.
"a markup that we can live with etc VAT etc"
Yes, also worth noting that a standard 2 year warranty has a cost compared to a US 90 day warranty. That has to be factored into the end user prices too so the $=£ parity is probably about right, especially light of the £ devaluation since brexit.
What I'd like to see are electronics lessons. I'd dearly love to learn electronics properly and would travel for lessons... and quality supplies that I can trust, instead of my ham fisted soldering, and taking a punt on caps and resistors from fleabay... learning bits and pieces from youtube videos.
I'm wondering how many people are out there, like me, who would love to get back to basics and the hands-on skills that my god father had... but I was too young to learn before he passed.
What a great idea. They could have a couple of traveling engineers who do workshops at all the different stores - It has to be someone who knows what they are talking about, not a sales rep. A couple of hours with a tangable goal and key learning objectives. Not just "build this kit-product we sell". No hard selling please.
Electronics is something I completely missed the boat on and and would love to be taught the basics
I have to find myself wondering how many stores already have competent engineers behind the counter. Judging by some of the casual conversations I've had in some stores, there is usually one that can read resistor banding without resorting to a sheet of paper.
There often is, but they'll have usually been there a while.
When I was a Maplin employee, working weekends whilst at Uni, we had mostly geeks and nerds in store. Most of us could tell our transistors apart, what type of capacitor someone had brought us to replace etc.
Trouble is, that all took time - you'd be 20-25 minutes assembling a bag full of components that someone had dutifully copied down from a dog-eared old book on DIY audio projects or something, and that bag would be worth less than a fiver at the till. Oh, and then they'd want advice on how best to assemble it, what cable to use, and then rattle off a story about how they used to build short wave radios out of tin cans and rocks when they were in the trenches.
We offered amazing customer service, but it was tough to see that make it into the till sometimes.
This was not lost on me when I went to Maplin last week to get a few bits for a project for the cubs, and found loads of stuff not in stock. Things we used to have loads of in my store, like 6V buzzers or LEDs or bulb holders. Instead they've got loads of random Smart Home stuff, really expensive batteries, CCTV etc... .exactly what you'd get off Amazon instead.
100% on the mark.
Maplin would shout down on us that customers come first always.
But managers weren't prepared to allow staff to chat to customers wanting small components or free advice.
Which was surprisingly two-faced as they also told us DIY customers were key customers for other customers.
As the technology level of most customers was appallingly, even dangerously bad. They relied on their knowledgeable friends to guide them.
But if someone even sniffed that they may want to buy a £400 CCTV system, there was no problem.
I give the company 4 years...
I've contacted Sussex University, but I fear their courses will be above my budget. I'll reserve judgement until I hear back.
I've checked out the Hacker shops, and there is one in Brighton, but no courses. I've got their e-mails and will send an e-mail tonight.
I've also checked out the Repair Cafes. Horsham, East Grinstead and Brighton are all doable, but they don't cater for courses either... but I'll drop one or two of them a line and see if they know someone who's willing to teach in an evening. The trick here is that the things I'm going to need to repair, are going to need spare parts.. and it won't be a thing that can be sorted in one session, if you know what I mean.
But... at least I have some avenues to follow now. Thanks folks!
Its not Maplins fault . As Chris123 says up there. It used to be all about electronics and hobbyists and that was tough to make money on. Nowadays even less people will solder anything - they'll just slot cards into motherboards. So Maplin had to morph into that tat bazzarre and keep a few resistors and caps as a token effort.
I disagree. There is a need for that supply. The components could easily go on-line. (As could electronics courses, to be honest.) Maplin could have a component section but optimise postage.
One of the reasons I don't buy as much as I would from the current component suppliers is the ridiculous postage they are demanding for small orders. I'm sure that this could be brought down easily because, as a hobyist, I can easily wait a few extra days for a package of a few bits and pieces. It would save the store fronts, and keep UK hobyists ticking over without costing Maplin so much of a small fortune. - I mean, I'm having to wait for deliveries from China right now, for crying out loud.
They could also do an e-mail query service instead of tying up someone in-store, at point of sale, it can be done on an e-mail exchange basis on an as-and-when, to make the best use of time.
One of the decisions which drove me absolutely bonkers was the A55KJ solder station. (which appears to have been rebranded, yet again.) Replacement bits can only be bought in a pack of three mixed bits. A19KK Wasted money for bits I'll never use. In fact, looking at the current bits on there, none of them are even screwdriver let alone chamfered. Totally bonkers decision. Even trying to get official Hakko bits was impossible because Hakko told me that they only sell bits for genuine Hakko stations... so I couldn't work out which of their station bits fitted this one.
End game... I went to Antex and bought one of their stations instead.
Maplin management have a number of things to answer for, in my personal opinion.
If you have a local Hackspace you might find they run an introduction to electronics course, for free or for a nominal donation. In Oxford, we have Meetups on introduction to electronics, such as:
(And if you have a local Hackspace which doesn't run such a course, you might be able to encourage someone to start a course.)
Maplin went downhill after being bought by Saltire group, who owned Altai, one of Maplin's suppliers, back in 1994. My Saturday job changed from trying to help the hobbyists with their list of components to trying to push prebuilt electronics, e.g. the in-car entertainment speakers and amplifiers, on which the company made more margin. Sales not being my forté, I ended up more frequently booking in and counting stock, and only helping out on the tills when the queues reached four or five deep.
Admittedly, the most complicated circuit many customers wanted was a flashing LED and the correct resistor to limit the current from a 12V battery - otherwise known as a fake car alarm.
Have a look out for a repair cafe in your area. My local one is staffed by volunteers who have skills in diagnosing and fixing electrical items. No formal lessons, but you can learn a lot from the old hands who have previously worked in the electronics industry. We're crying out for young 'uns who want to learn how to fix things rather than throw them away.
"Amazon and Ebay all the way down"
The thing is though both of those two are not single organisations - they are a collection of sellers all competing with each other and all getting reviews and feedback from every sale , and in addition to normal selling laws have to behave themselves more and follow extra rules that their hosts have added on.
A pretty good system in theory. I've got to admit, its where I do most of my shopping. Except bread and beer. The high street can go **** itself . Sorry Maplin , you were one of the good ones back in the day , but your number is up.
"Will be a big shame if Maplin close. I don't use them often, but when I forget to order what I need from Amazon they usually have the plug or adapter that I need quickly."
Fixed That For You.
It amazes me the number of people who want places to stay open, but dont actually use them on a regular basis. Dont get me wrong, a wander around Maplins a few days ago was a "Tat-Fest" but they have sections on satellite installations, Home Wi-Fi, Computing Kits (Ardinio, Pi etc) that felt like add-ons rather than stuff they could be focusing on to fill a niche.
" I despise every gouging step of the Amazon checkout process."
You must be doing it wrong. Let me guess: You're such a privacy freak you empty all cookies , disable all scripts , flash and other runtimes , insist amazon render you a text only browser page , and of course you never put any bank details online so you use their popular "post a cheque" payment method?
"You must be doing it wrong" .... not at all. They have all of those details. They only think I havn't turned on is one click check out, for very good reason.
The thing I despise is that some of the stuff is Amazon some from other vendors but fulfilled by Amazon and some fulfilled directly by the vendors. Some stuff gets free delivery other stuff free delivery if the total amount is enough which doesn't include half the stuff. So when you hit checkout the bill is inflated with multiple extra delivery charges that unlike eBay aren't explicit at the time you add them to your basket. And at the checkout screen they don't give you a button or link to go back and amend your purchases to get a better deal (why would they!). Instead you need to type in the amazon.com URL and from there go to your basket to update it, only to find that when you go back to checkout the new combination of vendors doesn't qualify either. I "might" consider using Prime if it applied to everything on their site, but it doesn't.
" extra delivery charges that unlike eBay aren't explicit at the time you add them to your basket."
They always say "fulfilled by Amazon" (which means Amazon delivery charges) or "Free Delivery" if they offer it. Otherwise just assume you pay. I usually won't choose suppliers who don't offer either of these.
"And at the checkout screen they don't give you a button or link to go back and amend your purchases to get a better deal (why would they!). Instead you need to type in the amazon.com URL and from there go to your basket to update it"
I thought you could click the Amazon home page logo at the top of the screen. Or at least just use "back" to a previous page.
RS have a number of stores around that you can pop into. There is one in Glasgow that is certainly still there, and one in Team Valley for those Newcastle based. Got to be others too. I personally gave up on Maplin years ago because they stopped selling components. Fortunately this was just the time that the web was coming on line and Farnell/RS started take web orders from Joe Blogs who was not a company and was willing to make a minimum order or pay postage.
These days Maplin is Tandy mark 2 and we all know how well that worked out for Tandy...
"RS have a number of stores around that you can pop into. There is one in Glasgow that is certainly still there, and one in Team Valley for those Newcastle based. Got to be others too."
16 according to RS...
"RS have a number of stores...one in Team Valley for those Newcastle based."
Do they take walk in retail customers these days? Last time I went there, quite some years ago, it was basically just a trade counter and weren't interested in selling me anything without a "proper" business account.
We'd see so much counterfeit goods it beggars belief.
People who through no fault of their own just think all shops are selling legal goods.
That phone charger in Maplin for £18 can't compete against the £5 forgery.
The number of times I'd save a customer's life!
Made getting minimum wage almost worth it.
Amazon seem to push Prime to the point of distraction, found it very difficult to get round it, so dumped the account, just use them as a search engine now, then go direct.
Maplin do sell components, but not the ones I wanted, so made up an order for over 5quid, CPC sent for free.
I have had Prime stuff that was fulfilled by Amazon and it took a week to get the delivery ready for shipping. The estimate on the product page says receive by tomorrow, at checkout it says receive the day after tomorrow up to a week later (huh?), and after purchase it said it was going to take a week.
So cancelled I bought the same product sold by a different shop and again fulfilled by Amazon. Same problem. I assume there's some logistics going on between Amazon warehouses that they're not telling you about or they're different shopfronts but the same shop.
And if you're lucky enough to work at a place which won't allow personal deliveries, it's just easier to go to the high street (as much as I hate to).
There's an Amazon Monopoly on electronic components and related stuff? Check out our curated list of suppliers on Reddit:
CPC Farnell UK
Electron Electronics UK
Element14 UK AKA Farnell.
Mallinson Electrical UK
Mega Electronics UK
Rapid Electronics UK
RS Components UK
Squirrel Labs UK
Arduino, components and robotics:
Cool Components Some say "The UK's Sparkfun".
Kitronik BBC micro:bit partner. Kits, Arduino, Sparkfun parts and components.
Oomlout Arduino, Adafruit, Sparkfun and components.
Pimoroni Stocks Adafruit parts.
Proto-PIC Stocks Adafruit and Sparkfun parts.
SK Pang Stocks Sparkfun parts.
ExpTech Boards and modules, robotics etc.
Tinkersoup Arduino, modules etc.
Waterott Electronic Boards, kits, robotics, components.
There's also a supplier in Thailand called Tayda that has stupidly-cheap stuff and 2 week delivery - they are used by many UK and global hobbyists.
Yes, Maplin is on our list - with a comment that they aint what they used to be in terms of stock and pricing. I could go on, but suffice to say I have a 4 digit Maplin customer number as one of their early accounts and the current company is not a patch on the 'original'. For others that hark back to the 1970s-80 hobby electronics scene and the Maplin catalogue, coloured vouchers you could collect towards future orders and the decent projects, check out some nostalgia here:
"Once we are left with an Amazon monopoly we will all be worse off."
It was a sad day when Goughs in South Shields closed, The sons carried on after their father died, but there was not enough business to pass it on to their kids. Same with the Red Radio Shop on Sunderland. Even Tandy, at a push, usually had components. Now there's only Maplin and the writing is on the wall for them.
"The wagons are also circling Poundland as well."
Poundland were the subject of a PE buyout in 2010, then floated in 2014, then another PE take-private in 2016, so like Maplin they've had three rounds of pillaging by the financial barbarians, and likewise pursued aggressive growth that made them lose sight of what they were originally good at.
So, Maplin and Poundland are in the mark-down bin. Who else will be joining them? Dixons Carphone are cutting costs and stores, but dodging the grim reaper this Christmas. Debenhams and House of Fraser appear to be in a race to go bust, and New Look (partly owned by the same owners as Poundland) is another one having its obituary written.
<iToy r Us is another one that is having its last rites read to it at them moment.</i>
Indeed so. Surprising they lasted so long, given the hostile "You're all shoplifters!" messaging that their stores have always had, and the miserable, down at heel atmosphere - everything that a toy shop shouldn't be.
Ref Toys R Us 'experience'.
Our local store is a masterwork of everything a retail store shouldn't be - usually boiling hot, illogically laid out, promo overload, incredibly noisy because it's a warehouse full of kids, and as you mention, guilty until proven otherwise mentality projected by surly disinterested teenage staff.
Even my spawn don't really enjoy going there, only requesting a visit if they're really bored on a wet Sunday and happen to have some cash to burn. Even then it'll be a surgical commando raid style visit, timed for the quietest part of the day and in and out in three minutes or less.
These Insurers seem to be able to 'break' a business
It's not the fault of the insurers - they're simply reflecting the risk that the business will go bust leaving its suppliers unpaid (and hence leaving the insurers to pick up the tab).
Maplin may seem like a simple chain of shops, but - as befits its private equity ownership - it has a very complicated corporate structure - there are references to MEL Topco, MEL Midco, MEL Bidco, Maplin Electronics Group (Holdings), Maplin Electronics (Holdings) and Maplin Electronics Limited at Companies House.
I'm not sure I'd recognise that as a picture of a passive victim.
"These Insurers seem to be able to 'break' a business just what like the credit reference agencies can do to countries."
Yes, they can. They broke a friend's business almost overnight - proper Audio/Hi-Fi and TV business. Profitable, healthy, growing... Stopped it dead in the water, especially since when one withdrew, the others inevitably followed.
By a curious coincidence, that particular trade insurer was in some way connected with their bank, who went on to make a very large sum of money in breaking up and disposing of the business, assets, and whatnot - although not before an independent consultant not in any way connected with the bank at all had charged them a fortune to restructure in the business in such a way it made the bank's (who they definitely weren't connected with) task of breaking it up much easier.
in some way connected with their bank, who went on to make a very large sum of money in breaking up and disposing of the business, assets, and whatnot - although not before an independent consultant not in any way connected with the bank at all had charged them a fortune to restructure in the business in such a way it made the bank's (who they definitely weren't connected with)
Royal Bank of Scotland again? I know they've operated that as a cookie cutter business model, and even seen them appoint their cronies as "consultants" into a business they'd reigned in credit to, bankrupted, then sold to their PE mates in a pre-arranged deal. And I know that because I worked for that business, as a direct report to the CEO (who they forced out).
You may very well think that, but of course, I couldn't possibly comment.
In my mate's case, they poured honey in his ear and got him to put up increasing amounts of collateral to increase his business overdraft "until the trade credit is restored", then promptly withdrew it completely; thus personally shafting him for the rest of his days, and increasing their property portfolio to boot.
I've been selling to banks for the last twenty years - front office stuff mostly. I'm always bemused by 'the people's' perception of evil bankers being the shouty trader types in the Square Mile. Granted, they're generally unpleasant and don't pay taxes, but they mostly shaft each other. The really nasty side of banking is in the regional business offices of the big six, who happily go around destroying businesses and lives whilst somehow being perceived as the acceptable side of banks.
It's a bit ironic that Maplins started out as a mail order company at a time when there were lots of small electronic component shops. Now the small shops have all gone, it's the only place a kid with a handful of change can go and get just one of each bit he needs.
If these kids are to progress beyond rote assembly of (poorly designed) kits, they need places like this, and it's those kids, not the talking heads, who will ultimately decide whether the country has a future in electronics.
Kids, buying electronic components from maplins? Are you joking?
This is a breif sample of maplins pricing.
For those that can't be assed to follow the link, it's a PP3 connector for a bog standard 9v battery, at £1.79. For a single connector.
Meanwhile, on Ebay, here is a pack of ten of the same item, for the same price.
Or if your after that single, then you'd go to a real electronics supplier like Farnell, who does them for £0.35 each.
Unless your hypothetical kid pays prices that I turn my nose up at, he certainly wouldn't be buying from Maplins unless he has very, very rich parents. (and you don't get rich by wasting money, so he probably would be told to order from elseware!)
Maplins basically has the same problems as PC world. Not great sales staff who rarely know what they are talking about, low skilled "technicians", and massively overpriced equipment that can be bought cheaper anywhere else.
The problem really is that they don't specialise in anything, have no plan or strategy. IMO, when shopping you have the following factors that are sold on.
3) Speed of Delivery
Lack of adaption and a total absense of business planning is the problem, not internet shops. Internet shops are probably always going to win on price, so any physical store that wants to survive ought to be offering quality, service and speed of delivery.
The shops going out of business frankly don't really deserve to be in business. They exist becuase they always have and think that should still be the case without doing business planning or adapting to changing conditions.
How to make a profit out of Maplins? Easy. Offer things that have a value to people higher than the financial cost (like portable air con units in summer) plus accessory kits for properly tossing the hose out of a window at a relatively low price (and 5m hoses, rather than silly short ones). If you did a bulk order then you can make a good profit selling small air con units at under £200. They'd sell at that price, and you'd be selling accessory kits as well. Then offer to let people pull up in the loading bay and knock on the loading door and you'll get this nice young lad to help load the unit in the back of your car. That's a service that people will pay for and appreciate.
Attempt tp sell a 5p (in bulk) component for £2 and people will generallly neither pay for it nor appreciate it.
Maplin's opinion of these tiny components is that, they're just a local shop away. So yes individual items are expensive.
But you can get technical support and a years guarantee on that.
But then a member of staff will hopefully tell you what it's suitable for or not if you ask them.
"Or if your after that single, then you'd go to a real electronics supplier like Farnell, who does them for £0.35 each."
To be fair though, you pay your money in Maplin and walk out with the piece. As a private (non business) person, I can buy cheaper from Farnell France (as I live in France...) but you then have to factor in that stuff is sent by courier which can be eye wateringly expensive. They were kind enough to send me their catalogue (RS flatly refused as I'm not a business) and it came by UPS. I'd order stuff from Farnell if they'd use Colissimo (sort of same as Parcel Force) like most others, but a courier?...?
Customers simply aren't prepared to spend more money to get advice.
They want online prices. But with unlimited chat.
I've helped so many customers in my 10 years with Maplin, helping building and advising kits for their kids.
I tried selling them a £1 screwdriver as a sort of hint. Nope.
“For their kids”
Oh don’t you just love those ones
Always starts off “/I/ have to do this for my child’s homework”
So your kid can’t do their own homework?! I always did mine....
Then it turns out THEY can’t do it either, they want YOU to do it, you tell them precisely what components need connecting in the exact way, and soldering will be out of the question, so you end up having to put it together for them.
What also drives me nuts is “I need cable for iPhone 7”
Ok a lightning cable here you go
“Can I open it to make sure it’s the right one”
Funnily enough I bought an over priced LED torch in Maplins for exactly that reason... I'd gone in to try to find out what transistors would be good to allow a Raspberry Pi to control a load of remote control gate openers. Hmm, said the old chap at the counter, have you thought about using an opto isolator instead of having physically connected circuits?
I hadn't, because I didn't know what one was, but I got a small,useful and friendly lesson before taking his advice on which to buy and I said I'd buy two in case I mis-soldered the first one. I can't remember what the price was but they were so cheap that I didn't feel like I could honestly leave the shop without contributing something.
"Maplin didn’t start out as a mail order company." ........ Yes they did. I remember getting their first catalogue in 1972. Just a few sheets of A4 with a dark orange cover sheet. I remember them announcing their first store in Wesfcliffe on sea in a subsequent issue and soon after their Hammersmith store which was really exciting as it was one I could visit: and I did. Somewhere along the way their catalogue exploded from a few sheets of A4 to a massive fat glossy catalogue with thousands of components and there were branches of Maplin everywhere. I'll be sad to see it go.
Maplins is going to go pop *because* the niche it's in doesn't exist any more. Full stop.
There will be no "replacement" in the "how it used to be" way. There may be a replacement in another random store selling tat that is cheaper in most other places, but there will never be another shop chain launch that is how maplins used to be, if there was still a need for such things, maplins would not have stopped doing it.
but there will never be another shop chain launch that is how maplins used to be,
Looking at the range of product, the presentation, marketing, and everything, Maplin have in the twenty-teens recreated the business model of Tandy UK c1990. That of course bit the dust for much the same reasons that Maplin is folding up. The plethora of private equity vultures who have owned Maplin indicates that they buy it in hope, realise the inevitability of collapse, and look to quickly sell on to a greater fool.
Looks like the music will stop soon, and Rutland Partners will find that there's no chair for them. You have to wonder what made them think that they could either turn this business around, or find a greater fool to give them more than the £85m they paid for it?
What amazes me is that despite years of problems they still have so towns and cities with multiple stores in them. Places like Southampton really aren't big enough too need two stores, particularly so close to each other, I'd be amazed if either are making a profit. I really don't get why the owners haven't done a round of store closures to remove the duplication.
I'm sure there were 3 in Cardiff at one point.
I remember poring over the catalogue as a youngster, and ordering an aircraft band to MW convertor kit (which I never got to work) but there was some mystery about the place.
Now it seems to be full of expensive drones and gaming keyboards.
It would be sad to see them go, but they stopped being an electronics shop ages ago and seem to be competing with too many other mainstream retailers to survive now.
As a customer from (almost day 1) circa 1973, they used to be great; as they were the cheapest place to buy electronics with a wide stock. Unfortunately, most of what they now sell can be brought cheaper elsewhere and the electronics are just a sideline.
I fear this will be another "Woolworths" we loved the brand, mourned it passing, but when you thought about it you cannot remember the last time you brought anything "serious" from there or though of it as your first choice destination to buy any particular product.
Last time I went in was a couple of months ago - wanted some new leads for the multimeter (brought from Maplin many years ago) and ended up with a set as well as a couple of magnifying glasses (something I never needed when first doing electronics) because they were on offer (about same as online), but to be honest only because I was in a shop nearby and had recently had multimeter out so remembered I needed a new set when I saw the Maplin store.
I'd like to say I will miss them - but I wander in occasionally, but always leave without the feeling of excitement I used to get from the new catalogue
Which reminds me a I need a replacement set of leads for my multimeter also,.... I got a pair of meters in some 2for1 deal ages ago from Maplin, and spannered one set of leads. Just checked Maplin, £9.99 for a simple replacement, not available for delivery or click and collect (so maybe instore?), or eBay, £3.99 with an array of connectors, including alligator, which I could really do with.
I used to be quite happy flicking through the old catalogue with a mug of tea, musing on projects I'd never get around to,..... would be sad to see it go, but it looks like it's following Tandy.
"@Muscleguy ....,,, A 500ml Pyrex jug.....Robert Dyas of course. The spirit of Woolworth's lives on, but for how long?"
Or Wilko. Or Dunelm.
Of course, if you want to savour the last of a dying breed, when you've come out of Maplin with a feeling of sad nostalgia, head directly for your nearest House of Fraser or Debenhams. I was in both the other day trying to buy som't for the missus, and I was struck by how empty of customers these large, expensive to run shops were. At the perfume counters, I asked for some things off of my list, and was told in both shops that they didn't have even the couple of items I was after "We're having difficulty getting stock, I'm afraid". So looks like they're going down.
Maplin's first shop was opposite it's current Westcliff store on London Road in Southend in the 70's I believe - I know it from the late 80's. A blatant rip off of Bi-Pre-Pak (in West Road) from whom my dad bought components for his Heathkit style radios and amplifiers. These days they're just a bit too expensive, but still the only actual shop you can really get components from. They should be doing astronomically well with the PIC/Arduino/RaspberryPi world we're in now, just they seem to be failing at this.
They're the type of outfit Alan Sugar should be interested in - same home town as where Amstrad once were :)
Yep, I think there is a cheap Chinese Buffet place on the other side of London Road - Remember that place by the Cricketers where you had to go upstairs and climb over dismantled TV and HI-FI bits to get to a capacitor, like a scrap metal yard for 1970's electronics ?
Maplin got to big for its market at exactly the wrong time, people can browse online and buy via Amazon or have direct access to Chinese goods via ebay - if you are willing to go with Amazon Prime you can get any delivered the next day these days
Whilst its a shame its the progress of user choice, market forces and capitalism, in a decade there will be no access to stores selling electronics or white goods, nor banks or estate agents
.... just as we all get to become house bound pensioners
You mean Sendz Components. Fascinating place with a downstairs, high street frontage which just contained some front facing shelves with random stuff on it, door in the middle of the glass. That door was never open, there were no lights on and all you could see throught it was piles of... electronic crap. Entrance was next to it, which actually took you to the flat upstairs. Where previously people would have lived, there were rooms heaving with shelves stacked with high with electronic crap. and a small office where you could buy stuff.
we all thought it was a drugs den as judging by the lack of people going in and out of it, you couldn't see a business working out of it, as there seemed to be no stock control with that much random stuff there.
and yeah the original maplins on london road southend. nerd city. a nerd went through your list of 2p resistors and stuck them in a bag. can't have been profitable.
and for bonus curious points, why the name Maplin? Like a lot of businesses started at the same time they were named after Maplin Sands where in around 1974 it was lined up to be london's third airport. so if you see Maplin in a business name you are 90% sure it started in south east essex in the mid 70s.
Less than 12 months to go I'd think.
I'll be surprised if they last to April. Once the credit insurers start pulling out, the company either can't get stock, or has to pay cash up front for stock, that bleeds cash at a vast rate because they don't get paid until they sell the stock (or a month or more later if paid by credit card), and without cash the retailer can't afford the lease payments that are quarterly in advance.
Maplin's South African owner will now be thinking about how to minimise their losses, and a pre-pack administration seems a likely outcome - unsecured creditors will get burned, and most (if not all) stores will be closed.
I used to go to the nearest city centre shop quite often (by bus or train), have a look in case anything caught my eye (always more fun to browse a physical shop - more likely to come across something unexpected as online searches by definition are always quite focused and so unlikely to stumble upon unconnected interesting items) . If I found something I liked I would buy tyhre as a bit of support (instead of looking online to shave off a bit of cash) - plus used to grab the odd "emergency" purchase when time critical replacement of something
However they closed their city centre shop (I imagine rent was high) - they retained presence in out of town retail park (which presumably is far cheape rentr) but thatch of no use to me as nowhere near the city centre, and not well served by public transport (essentially aimed at car users only)
I'm sure it was cost effective wrt rental costs, but the city centre shop would get a lot of eyeballs, people might see something in window display and pop in (e.g. drones or whatever is the tech toy of trendiness this year) - whereas the only time I made the long trek to the out of town store, it was very quiet as less likely to get casual visits.
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Wouldn't surprise me if they do close. As has been mentioned in the comments in previous articles, they must be the most overstaffed outfit in the land. It's excruciating walking through the door knowing that you're going to be followed at every turn by one of the bored staff in case you should want to steal some cheap, but grossly overpriced tat.
As a loyal Maplin customer in the early/mid 80's, I remember berating Tandy back then for their overpriced, over-packaged, low stock levels and poor range of electronic components, and always thought they sold mainly tat.
It's ironic that Maplin, an independent mail order company with only a couple of shops went down precisely the same route as Tandy, and seem destined to suffer the same fate at the hands of the competition in the form of mail-order only outlets.
They're good for batteries, as long as you buy them at the 'offer' price and not the interim inflated prices, but then Poundland just around the corner also sell decent alkalines for around the same price, and as for the rest of the tat, get it from eBay at less than half the price.
As for kids of today needing Maplin to get into electronics, I don't think so. That just sounds like an excuse for today's "I want riches without any effort" youth. As a enthusiast then student of electronics in the 80's, I can tell you that there has never been a better time than now for a kid to get in to electronics. Components are stunningly cheap, test gear is cheap, and the amount of information available at your fingertips (literally) is vast. No more ordering data sheets for 25p at time and waiting for a week for them to turn up in the post. You can buy a complete microprocessor system for a couple of quid and teach yourself proper assembly language on the family laptop. Hell, there are even analogue circuit emulators out there more than powerful enough for hobby use for free.
As a enthusiast then student of electronics in the 80's, I can tell you that there has never been a better time than now for a kid to get in to electronics.
As a enthusiast then student of electronics in the late 60's and 70's, I wholeheartedly agree. I in the 70's we still had GW Smith (Soho), HL Smith (Edgware Road) (got all my Denco coils for the superhet I built from them), Home Radio (Mitcham) and still loads of ex-WD 19 sets out there. But though the kit was easily available, the information, as you say, wasn't - the "maker movement" has changed all that, powered by the internet, without which it wouldn't have happened.
Loooong ago - I lived up on Pollards Hill, Norbury S.W.16 - and weekly went to the Mitcham Ham Radio Club & also constructed items - mostly from bits acquired in Lisle Street & Tottenham Ct Road,
By 1967 I had "woken up" to the way UK was heading - so I headed out on a round the world hitch-hike, and finally, years later I ended up in Hong Kong with a HK Chinese wife!!
Been here more than 40 years and am as happy as a "Pig in shit" - with places like Aplui Street in Sham Shui Po filled with components - and then there's "SEG Plaza" in Futian District of Shumchun which is a veritable cornucopia (12 floors of components & electronic devices & has several other competing component buildings close by).
Seen flee -years ago - Aussie outlet Dick Smith in Tsim Sha Tsui "Lost face" when his sign was blown away in a typhoon - and that outlet was gone soon afterwards!
Holding hundreds of batteries is a risk. And why use single use batteries instead of rechargeables anyway?
Only single use batteries I have came with stuff. They usually sit in the drawer until they begin to leak then taken for recycling. I've had some of my LiMH rechargeables for over a decade. They are now not charging properly in ones and being recycled but they have been remarkably cost effective. In 20 years I have replaced the charger precisely once. Wireless trackpad on the desktop, wireless keypad for this laptop, the slave doorbell chime (main is plug in), torches, the wife's 360 controller, TV remotes, portable phones, my head torches (have head torch can run beyond the streelights in the winter), my Polar footpod.
My only gripe is that I can't seem to find rechargeable coin batteries. The gap in the market. That would cover the coarse scales and the Polar HR monitor amongst other things. I think I might have to replace the one in the HR monitor. Starting to play silly buggers, HR over 200 just after hitting start as I leave the drive, then after a while it jumps suddenly to a more realistic 148.
... is a slightly strange way of putting it - when talking about shops across a geographical area you'd generally name the two most distant points geographically rather than alphabetically!
As far as I know they have shops across the UK from Inverness to Truro which is pretty decent coverage. I've not used the physical shops for years (since they're mostly full of cheap tat and very few useful components if my last visits were anything to go by.)
I once had great respect for Maplin and their catalogues what with the data within and spaceship on the front. But now they sell mostly expensive tat.
We do electronics and soldering classes mainly for school kids at the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge, they're very popular and something we will do more of. I enjoy helping out except maybe when I held a PCB and component in place for a little girl to solder but she took forever and I was sure my fingers smelt slightly bacon afterwards.
Just left Maplin employment.
They've stopped all overtime and recruitment as their turnover is down from last year. They're feeling the pinch from online sales.
The trouble with Maplin is that they seem reluctant to compete with online with regards to availability.
Customers would walk in and out again as Maplin's policy of having a minimum of 2 of each item for their shops fails them.
Sure, they 'stock' 20,000 items but a huge proportion of these are not held by Maplin, so not available in store.
Their Web site is shockingly bad to search. Staff use Google search to improve things. They don't seem to understand that technology has several names for things. If you do find the item, then lucky day!
Their policy of giving free p+p to out of stock items was commendable 10 years ago. But with other stores offering 4 hours delivery, Maplin's 3-4 days delivery is appallingly out of date.
I got tired of all the behind the scenes rushing to keep up and knowing the problems were being ignored. Enough I thought.
With plans to put GAME stalls inside each store or doing Mobile Phone repairs. Just seems like flogging a dying horse.
Five year guarantee not good enough?
Correct amount of copper in it to work across all Apple devices not good enough?
I had a woman come in with a £4 one and it was only rated for 0.5A which means that it's got virtually no copper in it, plugging in a iPhone will overload it causing it to get a but 'warm'.
She'd replaced it 3 times...
Maplin don't do themselves any favours with cables, the problem is not just pricing but display stock.
Let's take the lightning cable as an example. On a like for like basis, a 1.5m Lightning to USB A is £13 on the Maplin website. A 1.8m Amazon Basics (one year guarantee, certified on all devices, rated to handle 90 degree bends thousands of times) is £9 delivered.
A four quid markup for immediately available retail stock is not unreasonable (some people may disagree, but how, exactly, do you think people are paid?)
Problem is, I can almost guarantee the only cable on display in store will be the 3m 18 quid Lightning cable, with special in store markup (and a better margin). The 13 quid cable will be available, but you have to know it's there, and ask for it.
50% margin? Sort of alright for low value items. 120% margin - nope, people aren't going to wear that.
The minute you enter my local Maplins you are watched like you are a prolific shoplifter by the young staff there, who pretend to tidy up hanging things at the end of every aisle you are browsing. More unnerving than the ridiculously high prices for some things.
They may never be able to compete with online mail orders shops on price but some of the prices seem to be just fleecing customers who don't have a clue. If they had more sensible prices I would buy more there and accept the premium for having the item instantly.
Customer service and great advice like Maplin used to give (and probably still do) doesn't make money and keep customers in this brave new world.
My local bicycle shop is the only one in town. Last year I was walking past and the owner had come out to view a "youths" bike. I heard the conversation from half way through...basically it was along the lines of, "what gearing system should I buy to replace this broken one?", the advice came back as "xyz, we have them in stock and I'll fit them now", the reply was "cheers mate but I'll buy them on the internet, cos they're cheaper". They didn't ask the price, and weren't told. It was presumed (correctly).
I chipped in with, "support the local shop because he gives you good advice which you can't buy anywhere else, it's worth paying a bit more to support your community", the youth and his friends said "of course you can, that's what forums are for",
Off they went without a care in the world. They were only asking the shop because he was there and genuinely couldn't care less if he wasn't.
Price is king and the Internet solves all the other issues in other ways, such as how to fit (Youtube) what to buy (reviews), advice (forums). The modern youths have no idea about community....probably because they haven't seen it, our generation killed that off.
What do Maplins, Argos, PC World, (insert name of shop), give to, or do for, the new generations that the Internet can't give them bearing in mind that communities are now taught as being "facebook" groups and shops are called websites?
Maplins may be on it's way out.....but aren't all shops that sell "things"?
I think it's all very wrong indeed...and scary. The world I knew doesn't exist any more and I don't understand this new one.
The local bicycle shop in the town I grew up in closed a few years ago.
It was also a toy shop that would make Toys R Us look like a nice place to visit - looking at toys and the shopkeep shouts over "look don't touch"!
They effectively had a local monopoly before Halfords moved into a newly built retail park and offered cheap bikes, and even some of the supermarkets started selling them. They sold up and are now an optician.
I'm all for local shops and community - but shopkeeps need to meet the public halfway - don't assume everyone is a shoplifter, and offer opening times to those of us who work during the week to be able to afford to buy your things.
Believe me I would rather go to a good local shop than buy some of the kit I own mail order.
For instance my nearest local camera shops are Norwich, Cambridge, Lincoln or Leicester (you can probably deduce which large town I live in from that). Now if I want a new lens (canon DSLR) I don’t want to buy it sight unseen but would prefer to go to a camera shop. As there aren’t any local to me I tend to wait for the photography show as it gives me a chance to try it out first.
Same with a local bike shop, why would you spend around £1000 without trying a bike for size and comfort first. Yes the accessories can be a bit expensive but support the local shops. Besides I would often prefer to pay someone who knows what they are doing to replace things rather than spend hours doing it myself and probably getting it wrong....
I reckon this sort of thing will be going on for a while. I'd open some international branches close by and start acccepting euros. First port of call in any new place, tend to navigate by them instead of the tube. You never know the magic credit fairy may well return. #wishtheAteamhadamaplinsepisode #undernierepourlaroute
There are people on ebay selling Farnell's stuff, using photos and text scraped straight from the web site, with a 400% markup and 99p delivery fee, despite the fact they get free drop shipping straight from Farnell to the customer. One of them, "Top Quality Tools", has 126,000 feedback - there's clearly a (perceived) need for it. Of course, people will probably whine if they ever see the actual markup, which the ebay sellers manage to conceal effectively.
Used to love Maplins - when I was PC building or handling electronics / fixing things, I'd always nip along. They knew what they were on about re:components and electrical bits. My last venture to Maplin was just last week and no discussion, just sales - the experience just wasn't satisfying as a techie. If I wanted to look online to find something, then likely that I'll now buy online too.
They've slowly turned into Blockbuster video with their inability to adapt and protect against online. If I was in their management, I'd be using the Amazon and eBay platforms to sell the stuff from a low overhead warehouse and make the retail stores focusing on gift and specialist toys / RC and robotics/Raspberry PI/sensors and remove all the disco/PA and amp stuff. Also a section, for cables and chargers but cheaper than what they are.
Maplin used to be a place with a great catalogue full of electronic components I could order by post or later on on-line.
If they'd stuck with that as their business model rather than insisting they needed high-street outlets, they might not only be in better shape, they could have evolved into a UK competitor to Amazon.
Maplin's biggest issue is the fact that it is owned by Rutland Partners.
I'm not sure they've managed to successfully turn around a single business, and they're certainly not specialists in electronics. Previous failures include Bernard Matthews*, and who would have thought they'd have gone under. Won't be long before they call in Deloitte, who will then sell off various parts to get Rutland their money back.
* Rutland had to put out a statement on that investment, denying they deliberately turned down an offer to buy Bernard Matthews so they could sell it through pre-pack administration - writing off all debts and making themselves a profit.
Having spent 56 years in Electronics (and Broadcast Engineering) with this dynamic and exciting career (!); it does grieve me when looking at old "Practical Wireless"´s to see that practically 99% of all businesses have folded. Of course the problem that befell Heathkit was the surface mounted components that produced the death knell of projects. Nowadays, with Erie resistors and all the capacitor manufacturers gone from the UK, it is a pain ordering via internet and resistors from Hong Kong, is dreadful. Even Valve circuitry is appealing for its simplicity and reduced component count, but the transformers are extortionate in cost.
Alas I feel like a Railway Steam Loco Driver whose livelyhood has all but disappeared.
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