PWC is managing the process, we are told.
Asset stripped and shuttered.
Ailing gadget souk Maplin is locked in eleventh-hour talks with a potential buyer of the chain but the company may be placed into the hands of an administrator if an agreement cannot be reached. Private equity owner Rutland Partner, which bought Maplin for £85m in 2014, is understood to be negotiating with interested parties …
What are you talking about? Maplin would never have had any assets to strip. They have basically no cash, large debts and crippling store rental commitments. There is the stock, but that's basically worthless if you try and sell it in bulk. The only reason you'd buy Maplin is for the dividends, and as dividends can only be paid out of profit, there won't have been many of those in the last twenty years.
Montagu bought Maplin for £244 million and sold for £85 million to Rutland who will be lucky to achive a token tenner for a sale. I don't think either Montagu or Rutland will be congratulating themselves on their spectacular corporate raiding skills.
The issue is that when the company goes in to administration, those administrators will be PWC. When the administrators start paying off company's debts, first in the queue is the administrators bill, lo and behold that is PWC.
So it's in PWC's interest for the company to go in to administration, as they'll earn more money that way.
Went int here for a couple of standard items. One not in stock and clearly hasn't been in stock for months, the others £9 more than what I could get it for on ebay. Can't actually think of the last time i bought something from them. You can definitely feel the despaeration in the staff.
This is very accurate. I went to the nearest one a couple of weeks ago and just left feeling depressed on behalf of the staff who had the look of broken people on death row. The product range had no USP and prices didn't beat anywhere. The could plausibly close 150/160 stores and double down on the hobbist market but they would need to make their prices very keen to outdo direct from china via ebay purchases.
They need to lobby the government to save their business, simple as.
The government is letting the Post Office and couriers destroy the entire UK manufacturing sector, along with the middle men supplying the public, by allowing through millions of clearly tax dodging packets and parcels every year.
They are all labelled "$4 gift", despite being a 4x4 CNC router, or "sample" despite being 400 left shoes (the 400 match right shoes came through the previous day!)
No tax, no duty, no VAT, no electrical safety, nothing. But just look at the price! And free shipping.
No wonder this country is stuffed.
"by allowing through millions of clearly tax dodging packets and parcels every year."
And how exactly do you propose to police that? Open every single parcel which comes into the UK from outside of the EU? The resources are simply not available. And if they were, workarounds would be found in no time (import into Poland first, for example).
Maplin's advantage used to be knowledgeable staff and the convenience of having everything on offer, instantly, in one place. Now most of the knowledgeable staff have gone, and people are used to ordering online so aren't as likely to pay through the nose for convenience, when it comes to electronics purchases.
They're running out of options pretty rapidly.
At least all Maplin's stock is hand made in the UK not imported from China
Shops are rent seeking middlemen. The reason we have had to pay a markup to merchants for the last 1000years is that is was difficult to pop down to the spice islands for your pepper.
Now that it is as easy for the end user to buy from the chinese as manufacturer as it is for the retailer - we don't need the retailer taking a cut.
At least all Maplin's stock is hand made in the UK not imported from China
Are you mad? 90% of the rubbish they sell is cheap 'n' nasty Chinese imports that you could buy more cheaply yourself directly from China. They charge 12p for a resistor that I can buy in the Far East at 15p / 100! They lost the plot some years ago when they tried to be "Tandy". Tandy / Radio Shack went out of business because people didn't want to pay premium prices for cheap Chinese tat. Maplin failed to learn the lesson.....
Edinburgh Woollen Mill has been buying up bust fashion brands (including Jaeger and Austin Reed) as it plans to launch a new chain of department stores. Good luck with that in the current retail climate.
Not sure whether they're wanting to add electronics to the portfolio (which depending on which EWM subbrand is involved may include tins of shortbread, the kind of bedlinen favoured by B&B landladies, DVDs of steam trains and the kind of "country" wear worn in suburbia) or just interested in the potential retail space.
Retail shops aren't automatically doomed because they are retail shops. They are doomed, because the management has a seeming imability to actually manage as much as a SWOT analysis and then taking action on the "O" and mitigation against the "T".
There is a miniscule, tiny little clothes shop locally to me that has survived many, many large chain stores around it. It survives because it caters specifically for men who work in offices who hate shopping, which is evidentely a big enough market to thrive on.
The shop has a decent selection of somewhat above average quality shirts, trousers and other "suitable for an office" clothing (in both casual and formal) at somewhat above average price, but below the price that people mutter "i'm not paying that" and go elseware. You can buy cheaper stuff online or from the ASDA clothing section down to road, which to many people ought to indicate immediate death for the company.
The pace is perpetually empty, but that's because they have what is by todays standards amazing service so your in and out in only slightly more time than a formula one pitstop. Alterations available at moderate cost if you'd like a perfect fit.
As a result, they have enough people visiting to keep them doing quite nicely.
This compared to M&S where menswear is at the back of the 999th floor, and everything is constantly moved around to make you hunt for things. Hellish shopping experiance, and the place deserves to die. Or ASDA which is full of cheap , tackily low quality stuff that falls apart after a few months.
So you can run profitably run retail shops, you just have to offer what people want to buy.
My thoughts exactly, like various other dinosaur companies they refused to see change coming or even do anything other than attempt to disrupt it, usually at their own detriment. For example, Kodak with digital cameras or Blockbusters. Both were major players in the non-digital field but utterly failed to translate this into digital equivalents despite them having a major brand that would have carried a lot of weight in doing so.
My thoughts exactly, like various other dinosaur companies they refused to see change coming
Well, all the investors who've sold Maplin over the past few decades (of which there are several) saw the change coming. Most, I suspect, didn't even intend to disrupt or try adapting - all they hoped was to run the company long enough to find a greater fool willing to buy it. It hasn't been conspicuously successful, but whilst PWC work their evil work, along came Edinburgh Woollen Mill, purveyors of the finest faux-Scottish tat to Japanese and American tourists.
EWM is of course where retail brands go AFTER they've died - Austin Reed, Jaeger, Peacocks, even bits of long forgotten gone-bust outfits like Rosebys and Jane Norman. I'm surprised they didn't snap up BHS, although I suppose they're waiting for Debenhams or House of Fraser to shuffle off their retail coil, or perhaps more in keeping with their previous purchases, Laura Ashley. Maybe they can keep open the Maplin stores in Windsor, Stratford Upon Avon, and Bicester "Shopping Village", and offer VAT free sales to long haul tourists? Get the Chinese manufacturers to screenprint a Union Jack on all the merchandise, and it'll fly off the shelves.
I take it you've never been in the Stratford-upon-Avon branch? Not exactly in the tourist hot spot in the town. I have been in repeatedly, but usually come out empty handed because they don't have what I want. The staff are friendly and helpful but it just can't compete against the value & convenience of likes of Amazon and eBay.
...Both were major players in the non-digital field but utterly failed to translate this into digital equivalents despite them having a major brand that would have carried a lot of weight in doing so....
This is perfectly normal. It HAS to happen.
Think of the Kodak Board-Room when the issue of Digital comes up...
Junior 'Ideas-man': "I think we should invest more in this digital lark. It's the coming thing..."
Head of Chemicals and Processing: "Well, you can't have anything from my budget. We're pared to the bone as it is..."
Head of Films: "We're currently No.1 in the world for film. If I lose any budget we'll slip to No.3..."
Head of Paper: "If you invest in digital our entire business model is at risk. And I employ 2.5m people world-wide..."
Chairman: " Ok - put it on hold..."
Even now they haven't quite grasped the idea of the internet. I tried to buy some specialist cable from their online store a few months ago and on trying to add it to my basket it insisted on me finding my "local" store (10 miles away). So I placed the order with CPC instead. I did query Maplin about this via their feedback form, but never got a reply. I can only assume they don't want my business.
Having a local shop got me out of a hole last Sunday - my desktop PSU went bang on Saturday night, and Maplin was the only local outfit to have a suitable PSU in stock (PC World had the same item, same price, but no stock). If not for them it would have been a 40-mile round trip.
Icon: What my PSU did.
This post has been deleted by its author
"My PSU too, just after Xmas. Only place for a *now* replacement at a half reasonable price."
Amazon Prime Now:
Corsair CP-9020097-UK VS Series ATX/EPS 80 PLUS Power Supply Unit, 550 W,Black
(They had loads of other choices, I just picked one)
Sold by Amazon EU S.a.r.L. Remove
Check out now with 2-hour delivery for £0.00
I could have it before I got home tonight, if I wanted,
Welcome to the 21st Century.
watford went belly up 2007(?), circ 2000 using "keywords" to find a product not in that "insert" a nightmare.
try hdd,Hdd,HDD,harddrive, IDE,IBM, seagate, WD.oh and hard-drive. etc
They had 1000's of items unsold in the Luton warehouse because unable to find them on the system.
Unable to look in the warehouse to find stuff as a lowly "untrusted" tech support. Knew we had items as just seen pass testing and returned to stock, trying to find it to sell argggg.
So many CCTV cameras, Nazir Jessa spend most of his day just watching shit.
Having a local shop got me out of a hole last Sunday - my desktop PSU went bang on Saturday night, and Maplin was the only local outfit to have a suitable PSU in stock
Same thing with the last thing I *ever* bought from a Radio Shack store in the USA - a PSU - 15 minutes before closing time, and I wouldn't have been able to get to a "big box" store in time. Of course, the sales staff didn't know they even sold them, so I had to show them what it looked like.
Ah, Maplins, I remember the days when it was just a cardboard box I shopped at when I went to visit me granny in Westcliff.
"Should have been 100% online as soon as it became practical."
There is an historical similarity to Henry's Radio. They did mail order from their shop in the Edgware Road in the 1960s. Very smart new shop stocking all manner of electronic components - like 455KHz ceramic filters. They became a must-go-to shop on visits to London - leaving Proops and Z&I with the war surplus kit market. Lasky's moved upmarket too - into hi-fi type consumer goods.
Last time I went to visit in the 1980/90s? - Henry's had gone down-market and looked just like Proops etc had in the past. They now seem to have dropped the component side of the business - following Lasky's into consumer products.
You can't make a bricks-and-mortar business pay by selling electronic components or novelty toys and turntables etc. There's literally nothing that I can buy at Maplins (in store or online) that I cannot buy at Amazon or eBay.
It was inevitable that they would go the way of Radio Shack in the states.
Probably their best bet now is to "store share" as Argos are now doing, moving their Argos stores into Sainsburys etc.
I'll be sad to see them go as I've spent many a time in my local Maplins browsing (and buying) all sorts of components, from printers to a CCTV system to a soldering iron to a pack of resistors. Bloody handy to be able to blast down there on a Sunday and get a 10K potentiometer for some project that I'm playing with.
But not enough to base a business on these days, unfortunately.
And my best wishes to the Maplins staff that I always found open, honest, and very helpful.
Probably their best bet now is to "store share" as Argos are now doing, moving their Argos stores into Sainsburys etc.
That's not a voluntary or necessary thing. Argos were part of HRG, and were making a credible profit for a high street retailer. Sainsbury's "won" an acquisition battle that cost them 40% more than their first bid, and were doing so in the belief that Argos was merely a couple of order points and a sales desk, which could easily be done by the customer service desk in the Sainsbury's stores.
I think they'll find that they are wrong - one thing Argos were brilliant at was stock control - very high levels of availability, yet not relying on having thousands of items of low turnover stock in each store. Sainsburys of course are famous for the reverse - crap logistics, high prices, poor availability. From the outside, the world of general mechandise looks simple, and flogging a few high margin extras in your supermarket is indeed profitable and easy, but there's a world of difference between being a wide range general merchandise retailer and running a supermarket, where everything revolves around short shelf life groceries and cross subsidies between the stuff people will pay a lot for (like booze, branded goods) and the commodity stuff that's often sold at a loss (milk, bread, etc).
All of this will take a few years to unravel for Sainsburys because at the moment Argos is still largely operationally independent. The real fun will be when Sainsburys try and integrate the IT via their offshore & outsource "partners".
So true, the 'integration' has already begun. Argos stores are already closing and moving into the local Sainburys. Going from a shop front with a logistics operation behind it to a desk in a supermarket might seem a good idea from a short term rent point of view. But it has the potential to cripple the Argos business. Slapping an order collection desk in every supermarket branch isn't enhancing the customer experience in the age of eBay and Amazon.
I work in the town where Argos was within 5 minutes walk from my office. (And only 10 minutes from my house), where I could get most stuff I needed in my lunch break. So why will I drive to an out of town supermarket (that I never use) to pick up a cheap phone that they can have in stock within half a day? Or not, depending on the order cutoff time
Answer, I won't. Amazon had it at my door the following day after I ordered it at six in the evening. (Or at my chosen pick up point near my office!)
On Easter Sunday at 7am last year, my 3 year old niece came bounding into my bedroom with her Ipad to tell me that the WiFi was broken and I needed to fix it. On investigation, the router lights were all off with a vague odour of burnt-out capacitor.
Being England, rather than a civilised country like Scotland, I knew nothing would be allowed to open. But after a quick check, I found that... Argos "Fast Track" delivery was open as usual. So at 07:15, I placed an order, at 08:00 I had a call from the delivery driver to say he was on his way and at 08:15 I had a brand new router in my hand - all for £3.95 extra.
"I work in the town where Argos was within 5 minutes walk from my office. (And only 10 minutes from my house), where I could get most stuff I needed in my lunch break. So why will I drive to an out of town supermarket (that I never use) to pick up a cheap phone that they can have in stock within half a day? Or not, depending on the order cutoff time"
You are extrapolating your own experience as though it was common and in this case, wrong. Most people do use the out-of-town supermarket and would never dream of walking to the shops. Base any retail model on people not driving absolutely everywhere in any area of the UK outside a major city and you are doomed. Let's face it, town centres are dead apart from coffee and charity shops.
Not forgetting that Argos are absolutely ruthless on financials.
They had details of all the bank accounts for all the companies involved in factoring or cashflow financing. So if a company was caught using a factor, they'd immediately demand the equivalent discount on the debt themselves.
"Bloody handy to be able to blast down there on a Sunday and get a 10K potentiometer for some project that I'm playing with."
Online ordering from people like Bright Components is worthwhile as you can get 25 or even 100 of the same thing for 99p. So you use what you need and the rest go into stock. You can even throw in a few possible future needs for the stock cupboard.
Maplin want £19.99 for an Arduino Nano - which ebay UK vat paying sellers do for under £3 including 2nd class post.
"Maplin want £19.99 for an Arduino Nano - which ebay UK vat paying sellers do for under £3 including 2nd class post."
Maplin's is a genuine Arduino Nano, whose price includes quality control and a contribution back to the Arduino project. Your Chinese clone from eBay doesn't.
"[...] whose price includes quality control and a contribution back to the Arduino project."
The Arduino software project seems happy with the idea of clones - and they accept donations. Like the IBM PC - the clones are probably driving the popularity in a way that would not have happened otherwise. At £3 a throw they are expendable in a learning curve - in a way that £20 a throw would not be.
As for clone quality - not had any real problems since I started using them a few years ago. Always solder my own headers as the ones that come ready soldered are a pig to redo if they are not aligned properly.
"The Arduino software project seems happy with the idea of clones"
Are you sure? Your link goes to a donation page but doesn't provide any support for your statement.
Below what the project actually says:
"He detailed out what ‘counterfeit Arduinos’ are, and why they are harmful to the whole open-source hardware movement. We release Arduino’s hardware design files so that people could make their own versions, but this doesn’t mean manufacturing boards only for profit and pretending to be Arduino.
" We don’t release any element of the Arduino brand identity (logo and graphics of the boards), so whoever uses the trademarked Arduino graphics makes a deliberate act of Trademark infringement and prevent us in our effort to guarantee the quality of our products, always replaceable if defective."
Most of the eBay sellers make no attempt to differentiate themselves from the real product. There's a difference between an IBM PC and an IBM-Compatible PC.
Anyway, the original point is that it's really stupid to criticise Maplin for selling a genuine product more expensive than a counterfeit.
"Your link goes to a donation page but doesn't provide any support for your statement."
When I follow the link to the donation page there is only one block of text - that says (their capital letters):
"NO LONGER JUST FOR ARDUINO AND GENUINO BOARDS, HUNDREDS OF COMPANIES AROUND THE WORLD ARE USING THE ARDUINO IDEs TO PROGRAM THEIR DEVICES, INCLUDING COMPATIBLES, CLONES, AND EVEN COUNTERFEITS. HELP ACCELERATE THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE DESKTOP AND WEB-BASED IDE WITH A SMALL CONTRIBUTION! "
When explaining how donations will be used they say:
"There are also a lot of products which claim to be “original” Arduino, using our graphics and branding, but provide no contributions back to Arduino for the development of the software and running the website."
That suggests that they would use their cut of a sales price towards that stated aim. I suspect they don't get much from each unit that Maplin sell at £19.99.
I presume many people do as I do. Buy expendable clones and then make a donation based on the value of the project. It goes direct to the Arduino Project - no middle men presumably all taking their cut.
See my comment above about how untaxed Chinese imports are killing the UK.
No tax, and the total cost of the Chinese part is less than we would pay to ship.
Is it worth making stuff in the UK? Not really, unless you're already doing huge volume. I can't buy the steel for what China can deliver the thing to your door for, it isn't worth doing because just the VAT on the finished item is more than the ticket price from Asia.
When I need a slow blow / random fuse or other component for some random bit of kit I could always find one at Maplin or be directed to the nearest store that had them.. I would buy all they had and put them in my car kit. I'm happy, customer is happy that they don't have to wait until the next day etc
Maplin made almost nothing on the sale.
Sorry to see them go but they should have seen it coming years ago.
Back in my teens, Maplins were on a par with RS and Farnell for their stocks of electrical and electronic components, with the added bonus that if you lived near one of their shops you could just nip in and get what you wanted - not something you could do with the other two.
Unfortunately, in an effort to remain relevant, they've almost entirely stopped stocking the electronic components in their stores, and it's mostly overpriced consumer tat, instead.
I agree with AMBxx above, they should have moved to a purely online presence, as the others have done, and maybe they would have maintained their relevance.
There's still a place in this world for Maplin but they should have not pushed into large "superstore" style places on retail parks, and instead focused on the "Richer Sounds" model of buying smaller, out of town locations. Geeks will travel if they know they can get a 25A SPDT subminiature illuminated toggle switch off the shelf for their latest creation - exactly the kind of thing Amazon won't send next day because it's only 99p.
Equally if they were the trusted experts on Smart Home, then I think people would visit them even if they weren't tucked in between a Pets at Home and Halfords. You know - walk in, ask a question and get a decent conversation, demonstration and a feeling of confidence instead of "Erm.... I don't know what that thing you're talking about is". I know it's not a particular El Reg favourite but people out there are buying thermostats, light bulbs and intimate hair groomers that all talk to each other (probably, in that last case, but I'm not Googling it). Maplin could have nailed this by actually knowing what works together and exploring new things with customers rather than a load of boxes on the shelf and not knowing what the fuck works with anything else they sell.
I'm not pretending having more 17p resistors out back would have saved them, but their plan to dominate the world of cheap plastic toys, out of date computer parts and overpriced cables hasn't really worked. People will travel to speak to an expert, but from my experience the last experts left Maplin about 2001 to make room for a 12 function 1:18 scale plastic excavator with flashing lights and a need for a dozen batteries.
But if you just go to the store for the 99p stuff, and buy everything else on Amazon because it's cheaper and delivered to your home, the store won't survive.
My father runs an hardware store, but more and more people just come for the stuff they can't find on Amazon - but really, you can't keep open only for marginal sales, and you can't compete with Amazon on prices.
"My father runs an hardware store, but more and more people just come for the stuff they can't find on Amazon - but really, you can't keep open only for marginal sales, and you can't compete with Amazon on prices."
Yes, the same people whinging about losing the local, specialist shops are the people causing them to close by not using them. The small independents will likely have that odd thing that you need because they know that if they have a reputation for being helpful and stocking those odd bits that sit in the back room for years will make people remember them and shop there. But the chains steal the low hang fruit end of the business, killing off the independents and the chains never carry the odd bits because they have accountants costing the square footage of the shop and demanding that every square foot pays for itself with rapid turnover. Unlike the independent who want to earn a decent wage for him/her and the staff, the chain has debts which must be serviced and shareholders who demand growth and dividends.
We lost are handy car parts shop a year or two back. It's a "nail bar" now. The guy retired and no one want to buy the business. But he did/does own the shop and the flat above, so still has an income (or the option to sell the asset), unlike a chain which would almost certainly see it as a cost centre, ie they are renting.
@Chris 125. Exactly. My Amazon backet is currently sitting at about £17.85 and won't be checked out until I think of something else to buy, putting it over £20 and saving about £4.50 shipping. It is a real inconvenience with Amazon, which Maplin could/could have taken advantage of.
Enthusiats will indeed travel for a £5 component which they really need, and might just buy a £20 multimeter while they are in the shop. But a £100 toy which is needed for a child's birthday in 4 weeks ? Not so much.
"[...] Amazon [...]"
There are lots of online component suppliers who have a presence on ebay and the web. They often offer 1st Class RM delivery for free or at a small premium.
For example: Bright Components does 1st Class as standard - and a single fixed P&P of 99p no matter how many things you order. Small components come in reasonable size multiples. Admittedly there are some gaps in the component ranges - but they stock enough things to be useful in a hurry. Typically 250mw carbon resistors of one value - pack of 50 for 99p.
Just musing to myself, I used to love going to Maplins to just browse the vast array of switches, resistors, capacitors and ICs which they stocked, as well as their enclosures, fans and so on.
In the days before the internet, it was somehow more satisfying to be able to do that, rather than dig through the massive mail-order catalogues that both they and RS used to produce.
Nowadays, it's very easy to buy anything you want online and have it delivered to your door, and for components, that's what I would invariably do.
Strangely though, for things which by their nature you would normally have delivered - I'm talking about domestic white goods, televisions, stuff like that, I wouldn't order them off the internet, I'd much rather go to a store and see the things in the flesh, and be able to prod and poke the real thing before ordering.
Which makes no sense, when you think about it. I mean, if you are buying a new washing machine, you can't take a basket of mixed coloureds to the store and run them through the machine, the best you can do is stare at serried ranks of different makes in the store, all new and shiny and unplugged and not working. So what's the point?
But for me, I just feel happier to go and see the thing, and order it from a store, instead of sitting at home and buying it off the web.
I'm obviously not the only one who feels like that, as the likes of Curries seem to be packed with people of all ages staring at washing machines and cookers and dishwashers and televisions. Maybe some of them go home and order it off the web afterwards, but they still feel the need to go and look at them in the flesh first.
Aren't humans weird?
Best way of buying a TV.
As long as decent feed.
Seen it with a bunch of Sony TVs 5 different models all same size.
Shop 1, Crap & cheap, almost acceptable and not very expensive, great and good value, great and expensive.
Then next shop
The last two and another between them in price.
great, better, great
I bought the better one in the end.
Unseen would have bought the next one down as slightly cheaper. With no knowleage the cheapest as people think "Can't be much difference between them" Money no object the expensive one.
Always pays to test a TV
Yep, I agree with you that for TVs it makes sense to go and see one working, as the price difference doesn't necessarily portray the real world performance. But why do we feel the need to to that for washing machines, dishwashers etc? It's not likely that you can see them working.
For things like white (in name at least, if not in actual colour these days) goods, being able to poke and prod at the controls (for stuff like dishwashers, microwaves etc. which have them), opening the doors and checking what the storage arrangement is like inside (fridges, freezers), checking how much space is required around the unit itself to do things like open the doors (e.g. could you have the unit hard up against a wall, or does the door overhang the side of the unit when opened), even just down to exactly what shade of white/grey/brushed metal/etc it is under real world lighting conditions as opposed to the carefully styled photoshoots used by some online stores. can still be quite important details to determine for some people, but how many online retailers bother going into sufficient detail with their product information to let you figure all of this out remotely?
"But why do we feel the need to to that for washing machines, dishwashers etc? It's not likely that you can see them working."
When I bought our washing machine and dishwasher I went to Curry's to have a look at them. Only because I wanted to see the size of the drum. You can't tell that easily on the internet, regardless of dimensions. One washing machine said it was 9Kg, as did the one we ended up buying. But the first machine had very shallow drum, whereas the one we bought had a deeper drum.
So that's one reason to look in the flesh rather than online I suppose.
Local independent white goods shop owner came to look at my washing machine for a possible repair. He also brought along a new replacement that we agreed on if the repair was not economical. He also came equipped to fix the built-in electric oven's faulty grill*** while he was there.
***the grill hadn't been viable since the house was fitted with a 30ma RCD. Turns out there was earth leakage in an element - probably from when it was new. One of those repair jobs where you had to know a few wrinkles from experience.
"It's not likely that you can see them working."
Shopping for a replacement microwave oven there was a list of criteria from experience. Many stores' online shops were not consistent in the information they displayed. Eventually wandered round the local large Tesco and realised that a Breville (own brand?) might fit the bill. I still had to go to the online shop to find a specific model I bought - but they did have reasonable descriptions. The only important thing that couldn't be determined was how much condensation to expect - but that proved not to be a problem in the model I bought.
"But why do we feel the need to to that for washing machines, dishwashers etc?"
Definitely. Basic checklist (for top loader machines due to lack of space):
* Is the door latch a bugger that will snap your fingers off?
* Will the buttons fall off when the machine hits spin cycle?
* Will the soap dispenser tray last until the end of the warranty period?
* Is the evacuation pipe a decent width or will it clog up with anything more demanding than the outflow of an average pee? [tiny pipe loads the drain pump and makes it take forever to drain]
* Is the gunk filter easy to get at or is it like changing an oil filter where you basically play Twister with yourself?
* Poke prod and push. Is it flimsy? Does it look like fast spin with a couple of towels will cause pieces to fall off?
* Look at the screws and rivets. Does the build quality look good or will you be expecting a breakdown before the warranty period is up?
* Do you need specific features? Woollens cycle, boil-the-poop-laden-nappies cycle, done in thirty
seconds minutes cycle, prewash, 8000rpm spin, variable weight sensing, extra large capacity, blah blah. Sure, you could probably find this part out online but you really can't imagine the difference between a 5kg capacity and an 8kg capacity when it's given in litres, cubic inches, or metres of oatmeal. You can visualise it when you pop open the lid/door (checking to see if it bites) and then stick your head inside.
And finally... Before buying, pull out your phone and check two sources to see what ratings the machine received. Read the 1* reviews in case there are any potential gotchas (washes amazingly but takes 2,000 litres per load, holy crap!) and then Google to see if there have been any recalls (badly placed wire rubbed against when on spin cycle, leading to self combustion). Check Which and Que Choisir (if you can read French).
Then when you're happy, buy! [and then realise that delivery is going to be a PITA......]
tl;dr: There are loads of reasons why it makes sense to go look at an actual physical white good such as a washing machine.
I usually download manuals before I plump for any white goods, or TVs for that matter. The quality of the manual does indicate the quality of the product and it also provides details of the functionality you will get as well as dimensions and other practicalities.
Richer sounds is a good example of how to get customers. Decent prices and they've always been willing to let you try stuff out. I've always used techno classic LFO to test hifi. Never been a problem in richer sounds but I can't imagine it would go down well being played full blast in John Lewis on a Saturday afternoon.
They rip you off for so-called premium leads and cables though. I always used to buy from maplin and solder my own. More recently it's been CPC etc al for that kind of thing.
Yep, I agree with you that for TVs it makes sense to go and see one working, as the price difference doesn't necessarily portray the real world performance. But why do we feel the need to to that for washing machines, dishwashers etc? It's not likely that you can see them working.
Right, but you feel like you're plonking down a lot of money and you want to at least SEE the thing before you buy it, to get a physical impression of it. This is another reason why Big Box stores will be in trouble when Amazon brings you decent holographic imaging - you'll be able to see how big it is, will it fit in my space, etc. WITHOUT having to drive to the store.
This is another reason why Big Box stores will be in trouble when Amazon brings you decent holographic imaging - you'll be able to see how big it is, will it fit in my space, etc. WITHOUT having to drive to the store.
Which will only work with Amazon's Alexa Holograph add-on. And you still won't be able to slam the tyres and kick the doors until they've added HoloTact.
"Nowadays, it's very easy to buy anything you want online and have it delivered to your door, and for components, that's what I would invariably do."
Yeah, but browsing a Maplin catalogue, with all the IC pinouts and often example circuits, tech specs for everything, often triggered ideas for projects, especially in this young teens mind at the time. There was a huge amount of reference material in there, all in one place that you rarely get now. It's much more fun to flick through a thick book than to randomly click on links on a web page that may or may not take you to something related. You really can't "browse" the internet the same way you browse a good catalogue/reference book for ideas or new information.
If the business is anything like the tat they flog, I wouldn't be surprised if it won't work properly and the buyer wouldn't get their money back if they complain.
40 years ago (somewhere I have a catalog with a Concorde on the cover) they were a force: I could post in an order on a wednesday and get the stuff delivered on saturday. Now it just seems to be a purveyor of over-priced flashing lights.
You used to be able to ring through an order - using that home made touchtone order system they had - at lunchtime and it'd arrive at 7.30am next day just before school. That was when first class post used to arrive before breakfast.
As a teenage I was excited by the arrival of a physical shop.
These days there's one 10 mins walk from both home and work. The St Paul's shop always has a big queue. I've bought a fair bit from them at the £20 mark; batteries, power supplies, Arduino and tools as well as an urgently needed 30p phono plug. I guess their overheads are too high.
They had good prices for cable ties and spiral wrap when I decided I really needed to tidy up the cables in my home office, but apart from that I've only bought things I am willing to pay a premium for because I need them right now. Anything that can wait a day or two is online and cheaper.
'relatively low margins made on the kit' - what??
Low net margins.
Maplin's gross margin (difference between wholesale cost of product and retail price) is quite healthy, as we've all noticed (around 47% for the full year ending March 2017). The operating margin is what matters, and that is after all the staff, lease costs, business rates, utilities, head office and corporate costs like HR, IT, procurement, etc. That operating margin was about 1% of sales in the same year. Now take out the "non-operating" costs like interest payments, and Maplin were making a loss of 2.5% of sales. For any retailer with no real assets, making a loss sucks the life out very quickly.
Beat me to it. I went for a 10m CAT 5 cable the other day, £20, the same at Screwfix less than a fiver. I'm all for helping out your local Maplin but not when they are attempting to gouge the cash from your pocket so brazenly. Those cool little wireless keyboard and mouse have over doubled in price since I last bought one, granted that was a couple of years ago.
Back in the day when RS and Farnell were strictly trade vendors we had Maplins and Cirkit or others like Criklewood and Watford for components. At the same time we had Laskeys and later Comet catering for Hif-Fi enthusiasts.
RS & Farnell, and their sibling CPC, will now sell online to anyone online or via the phone. Tandy went some time ago as did Laskeys and Comet. Maplins tried to cater for components and hifi and CCTV at the same time and didn't really do a job at anything.
With the growth in the Maker movement with 3D printing, Raspberry Pi's Arduinos etc, I think they missed a golden opportunity to move their business model. They could have even run maker workshops in their stores alongside their stock of suitable parts.
I have been getting an email a day from Maplin for the last two weeks which looks desperate. Sad to see them go though.
"I'm starting to wonder if you are one of the outfits using eBay to sell counterfeit Arduinos..."
There is a difference between clones and counterfeit. The latter carry markings falsely purporting to be made by Arduino.
The hardware design of an Arduino Nano is very simple - mostly being the physical presentation of the pins of the ATmega328 chip.
Arduino publish the open hardware design - see the Nano "Documentation" tab for the below statement.
The Arduino Nano is open-source hardware! You can build your own board using the following files:"
The innovation value is in the software for the upload and the IDE - which can be supported by direct donations that avoid the retail middlemen's cuts.
Used to find an excuse to walk round to Maplin in Westcliffe in the late 70s when visiting my girlfriend's (now wife!) mother... Was always an interesting place to wander around...
Cirkit used to be at the end of the road I lived in in Acton (or was it Ambit at the time?). There's a Cirkit multimeter on the table next to me at the moment!
Maplin started as a mail-order supplier to electronic hobbyists, back around the time nearby Maplin Sands hit the headlines as London's designated Third Airport and main operating base for Concorde. That's where the name comes from. Must have been the mid-Seventies?
I used to marvel at their huge range and low prices. They knocked RS, Farnell and all the surplus shops lining Tottenham Court Road into a cocked hat. Anyone remember ElectroValue?
Then the shops started appearing and at the start of the home computer craze, not to mention CB radio (anybody remember the "ten-four rubber duck" bit?), they were riding high. But then we stopped buying components and bought ready-made computers - and games. The competition hotted up and they never really found a new niche.
Still, while there's life there's hope.
From my memories of them in the early-mid 90's that was the business model for their stores (certainly in what was my local store at the time). The store was fairly small, some items were on display, but for pretty much everything else you'd go up to the counter screwfix style with your list of XY34Z style catalogue numbers.
I think it was around the late 90's - early 00's that the rot started to set in*. They moved to a larger store display area, they then started opening the 'out of town' stores, increasing the number of stores they have and the rest is history as they say.
* Probably around the time Tandy disappeared, filling the void they left.
Very sad. Maplin is like an old friend. I rember buying components there in the late 80s/early 90s - resistors, capacitors, tools, breadboard and so on. They were there for us, man. More lately, rechargeable batteries and just last year a Netgear router. All good stuff and still running well, even the bits form '89.
It was always going to be hard for Maplin - basically a mail order business with a few shops - to withstand the Internet. But they put up a good fight, and lasted longer than most.
They were/are also cheaper and more convenient than Amazon - no confusing delivery options or Prime rubbish, delivery was just free - and that Netgear router was about £20 less. However, Amazon will now be quietly reviewig their prices.
"[...] rechargeable batteries [...]"
Went to our Maplin for a replacement sealed lead acid battery for an emergency lamp. They had a couple at an eye-watering price - and with no "use by" date to indicate how stale they might be. The battery manufacturers' faq suggested that no charging for three years would be end of life.
Bought them more cheaply online from Farnell with free postage. A much better chance of fresh ones with their quick stock turnover.
I used to buy Maplin MSF radio controlled big wall clocks from their local shop. Every so often they would slash the price to £9.99 for "clearance". Two weeks later they would be restocked at three times the price.
I miss Tandy for a couple of reasons, they were the only local shop where you could get components when you needed them in a hurry (next nearest location, 25 mile train journey), and it was fun winding up the suits who populated the shop who, to a man, had zero electronics knowledge (cf. the current situation with Maplin) and used to talk the most egregious shite when trying to flog their 'Hi-Fi' stuff to unsuspecting members of the public.
What I don't miss about Tandy was the scalper prices they used to charge for components, but hey, needs must.
It is interesting that you bring up Tandy/Radio Shack here though, you'd have thought that the various manglements that Maplin has had over the years would have looked at the demise of Tandy here in the UK and taken notes..
I tried to shop in Maplins a few times recently. Most of their computer component stock was relatively old, as in at least a year behind what I could get online for the same price.
<old man rant> They insist on blasting out music and offers over their speaker system to a degree it became painful to stay in the shop. I recall Virgin Records trying a similar tactic before they "downsized". Never understood the "play music so loud it drives away potential customers" tactic./<old man rant>
On the odd occasion I did by something I was begged to buy batteries at the same time. Don't know what the usb keyboard I bought needed batteries for nor where they would fit but the sale assistant tried really hard to sell batteries to everyone who bought something.
Used to be a weird niche fun store. Now it's just weird.
I hate loud music in shops. And in pubs. Always did, even when I was young. Don't get me wrong, I've always been into techno and used to go clubbing all the time but there's a time and place and it's not when I'm trying to hold a conversation or think.
If the music is too loud, or it's that nouvelle vague shite I'll just walk out. Is either that or punch someone.
You're not wrong. I drink more quickly, and then leave.. Some pubs I went to regularly with a group of friends we switched away from, because we couldn't have a conversation.
Pubs are for conversation, that's their main purpose, secondary even to alcohol.
Horrible I know but... but if they could get the wage bill down, maybe they could compete with the online giants. The guy in the cubbyhole at the back needs to be replaced with a "Let me Google That For You" kiosk.
They'll be asset stripped and sold for parts. I bet there's lots of bricks and mortar value hidden away in Maplin shops for the vultures to feed on.
"Horrible I know but... but if they could get the wage bill down, maybe they could compete with the online giants."
Nope. They have to pay the shop staff the going retail rate or they end up with higher turnover and higher costs. Average salary per the accounts was about £21k per full time equivalent for all employees, so allowing for the professional staff, head office and store managers, the run of the mill shop workers won't be getting much more than about £15-17k. Paying less than that and you won't retain staff, and the costs of recruitment exceed the savings. Not to mention, how little do you think they should be paid?
"I bet there's lots of bricks and mortar value hidden away in Maplin shops for the vultures to feed on."
I very much doubt that - the properties will all be leases. Company cars will be leased. Corporate IT and furniture is worthless on the secondhand market. The brand is worth perhaps a few tens of thousands. Even the stock in the shops is worth only about 20% of the retail sale price.
I hope they come to some arrangement that allows them to continue to trade but hopefully improve the business model as some here have described. There really are too many stores in high-priced locations. I do wonder about the number of central London stores they have, which is convenient for me but must cost them a fortune.
They do have a lot of RPi and Arduino stuff, but again, that is probably 95% online these days.
It's handy having a bricks-and-mortar source of various components, cables (shame about the prices of course) and other stuff for emergencies.
Ah well, maybe there will be some bargains to be had if they close down.
I remember the Maplin Catalogue in the 1990s, you could buy it at WHSmith. I could buy kits to build amplifiers and spare components to fix stuff. Nowadays its cheaper to throw it away and buy a new one. A modern TV or home speaker cannot be repaired anyway.
I never lived anywhere near a Maplin store until the 2010s and then I didn't see the point when buying online was the norm for everything they stocked.
It will be interesting to see what happens to all the retail space in the long term. Hopefully developers can build housing on the out of town sites.
I bought my first (an current) multimeter there 25 years ago. Still works great. It must have cost £40 back then, probably would cost over £100 to replace it now.
"It will be interesting to see what happens to all the retail space in the long term. Hopefully developers can build housing on the out of town sites."
A lot of out of town shopping centres are built on ex-industrial (or at least commercial of some sort) land. The clean up process for commercial or shopping centre redevelopment is a lower bar than clearing up for residential development. If the local planning department are on the ball and do proper due diligence, it might be expensive to build houses there.
I shopped at Maplin this Christmas. They were the only actual shop that stocked the correct bulbs for my Father's extractor in the kitchen. None of the three DIY shops nearby had the right rating to match the specced bulbs (and to match the other installed bulb/s)
I also bought myself a maplin own-brand wireless keyboard with trackpad which has been brilliant. It's better (for me at least) for typing on than a couple of other brands including the equivalent Logitech model which I had been considering, plus it was slightly cheaper.
It's a shame that they are in trouble, as I like being able to poke around and see things in person, even if I am just picking up the boxes - it's a much more fulfilling experience than shopping online.
Needed a capacitor and the options were to pick it up at Maplin or try and work out which of the eBay/Amazon Marketplace traders weren't lying in their teeth about the delivery timescales.
I will miss them, but my level of trade wouldn't keep them afloat.
There used to be loads of places you would go for something really obscure about once every year or so. Then grumble when they ceased trading.
I bastarding hated Tandy. Maybe it's because in Sheffield we had N R Bardwell, which was the ultimate place for electrical gear and components. Now, Bardwell has gone but at the time, Tandy was a pale, overpriced, understocked imitation that I'd only ever visit if I couldn't get across town.
Yep I found a few long Cat5 cables about 10 years back in Poundland, along with massive cans of air duster, recently scored some assorted lengths of Cat5e in a establishment in Canada called Princess Auto (All sorts of surplus goodies amongst the car stuff, tools & machining equipment).
I was quite excited to see Exeter was finally getting a Maplins about 12 years ago, but the pricing was wayyyyy of bat even then, so CPC continued to get my cash, unless it was a really really urgent need for a case or resistor etc.
The Source (Radio Shack) in Canada, has nice glossy stores following a recent rebranding\reimaging & not before time but really are just glorified phone shops for Bell\Virgin.
I see they are still charging £1 for a Maplin's catalogue. I could never understand how they got away with charging customers to take away what was basically a book of advertisments.
Last time I checked Maplin was for an 5V illuminated push button - £2.89 each (plus £2.99 standard delivery if you can't be bothered driving into town) (£5.88 each)
Or sit at home and buy FIVE of the exact same thing from a Chinese Ebay seller for £1.69 with free delivery. (34p each)
At 17x the price, you'd have to be pretty impatient to use Maplin.
I'm not an investment manager but I often wonder if the folks who make these kind of decisions have any connection with reality. I strongly suspect the only thing they look at is waffly sales and potential growth forecasts and it looks like they never actually venture into the real world to see what they're buying (ironically, a bit like buying online).
In 2014, I wouldn't have touched Maplin with a barge pole, never mind paying £85m. I don't claim to be any more astute than the next guy, but anyone visiting one of their stores surely couldn't have not noticed the over-staffing and lack of customers and the disjointed array of tat. 2014 was recent enough that it was obvious there was no way a bricks and mortar outfit could survive selling this stuff.
If the business had radically changed direction as others have suggested, then possibly maybe, as a very risky gamble, but between 2014 and now, I've seen no difference in their offerings. Seems they were bought with no business plan in place.
As for EWM buying it now - Well, I'd like to offer my services for the going rate as an investment consultant and guarantee I can save them a few million quid.
"I often wonder if the folks who make these kind of decisions have any connection with reality"
Two things were going through their heads. The first was "retailing is easy, the current bozos just haven't got a clue. We'll buy it, streamline it, and clean up". The second was "even if we can't turn it round, there's always a greater mug. We don't need to be profitable - run it for a couple of years, and sell on at a great profit to somebody as a fantastic growth opportunity".
As the current and previous owners have discovered, THEY were the greater mugs, the ones at the back of the queue when strategic thinking was being handed out.
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The last time I bought from our HMV shop was to pre-order a CD - as someone had given me an HMV gift voucher. I then ordered another copy from Amazon - which was much cheaper.
The Amazon one dropped on the doormat on the day of release. The HMV one finally reached their store several days later - and it took some pressure on the assistants to get them to go upstairs to unpack the deliveries that had arrived earlier that day.
"Went into my local branch for an SD card for my dashcam and the guy I spoke to quietly suggested that if I'm not desperate, go to Amazon and even pulled up the relevant item on his own phone on Amazon's site!"
Could be that the Maplins employee was running his own side business selling items on Amazon and that i why he was directing you to go there and buy. I wouldn't buy any SD cards from Amazon or Ebay again, there are loads of Chinese fakes for sale on these platforms that will report they are the correct size to the OS but after you have written about 8GB you files will start to disappear or corrupt. I got my fingers burnt with that one and will only buy from a reputable retailer now
Maplin started because hobbyists couldn't buy from RS etc without being a business or in massive qty. Want a couple of 1k resistors, buy 1000 of them. Maplin would buy from RS type companies and then sell low qty to the customer.
Now that RS and Farnell etc sell direct to hobbyists and in low qty Maplin's original purpose has moved on.
I think also they lost focus. They done what Woolworths done, tried to do everything but ended up becoming a place where you didn't really know why you would go there.
Maplin could have been in a great position to embrace the Maker community. Parts of stores could have been dedicated to offering tools for people to use to make projects, as well as selling the tools as well. Have a bank of 3D printers so people could being in designs have have them made there and then. Small CNC routers for the same purpose. Offering, as they do, kits for arduino or raspberry pi but having the facility to actually build things in store.
Instead they have become a glorified tech shop that doesn't know if it wants to sell toys, dj equipment, smart devices, gimmick trash, batteries, electronic components, computer parts, TV parts or home security systems. They just don't do anything well anymore, it is a hodgepodge of products and categories with nothing that decent being sold or at a price that would make you want to buy it.
"Maplin started because hobbyists couldn't buy from RS etc without being a business or in massive qty."
In the 1960s Henry's Radio smartened up their war surplus store and had a major mail order components business covering all the UK. Our local Ham Radio shop sold a lot of basic components and surplus radio gear - but Henry's had some of the newer things like 455KHz mechanical filters. Possibly that was also the source of my Heathkit oscilloscope that I spent a Christmas building.
Later on Maplin were obviously aiming at the same market with several shops dotted round the country.
It's not as if Maplin are a Woolworths - where everything they sold could be bought elsewhere. Unless Clas Ohlson expand and extend their range, there's nothing on the high street which directly competes.
In retail parks DIY stores could be competitors.
I reckon Maplin could make money, but only by selling most of the stores. Limit to high footfall and student areas, and rationalise the stock.
"It's not as if Maplin are a Woolworths - where everything they sold could be bought elsewhere. Unless Clas Ohlson expand and extend their range, there's nothing on the high street which directly competes." "
Except that a lot of it can be, for example Screwfix carries lots of basic networking and TV cables and components (e.g. signal boosters or RJ45 crimps) and even more advanced things like CCTV kits.
As for electronics components like resistors etc the only advantage Maplin had was instant supply, otherwise they are massively more expensive than online.
Yes, that's why I said :
'there's nothing on the *high street* which directly competes.
In retail parks DIY stores could be competitors'
Screwfix is usually tucked away in the arse end of nowhere to reduce costs, it isn't on the high street.
Networking and TV cables can be bought anywhere, just at excessive prices. Half decent power supplies, basic electronics stuff, not so much (Argos do some, Maplin looked better last time I checked).
Maplin's market is 'I need to get my laptop/desktop working again now' or 'I need to bodge something together'. Clas Ohlson could definitely give it a go, but there's a very limited number of stores, and they're more generic and less electronics focused than Maplin.
Who shops on the high street any more? Even maplin stores are out of town now and have free parking. High street shopping is expensive (either through parking or the four buses it takes to get there) before you start.
As for "need to get a desktop working *now*" I must say I see very few desktops in home service these days, the ones that I do see are either gaming/pro rigs where the owner has their own spares stash or older users who wouldn't know what to do with a power supply to start with. Also, when was the last time someone changed a power supply? At my work I think we've changed one desktop power supply in the last 3 years.
"[...] because All The Young Dudes (and Dudettes) are coding instead of soldering."
The Arduino - and possibly Raspberry Pi - are usually associated with building something from cheap modules. I do wonder whether that will lead them into an understanding of basic electronics.
Reading some of the Arduino Q&A pages on the web it seems that many people are foxed without a paint-by-numbers guide that enumerates "connect A to B" etc. Even V=IR seems to be considered arcane knowledge. When I use a convenient module I always look up the chip specs to understand how the available driver is using the functionality.
The Arduino and Pi prove my contention, being relatively expensive ways (in the case of the Pi) of reducing a circuit design to a coding problem.
I wanted to set up a simple pulsing green light effect. I was told "Oh, you need an arduino and some LEDs and a resistor or two" by the cognoscenti. What I actually needed was a 555 timer, a transistor, three resistors, three capacitors (one just to make the glow fade instead of just going away if someone cut the power) and however many LEDs were deemed proper for the maximum oomph.
Yes it took longer to test, but for the cost of the Arduino set-up I could get two to six of mine depending on source of components.
Plus, putting an Arduino in a "dumb" maker project "just because" is lazy.
Also: Get Rid Of Needless Computers In Stuff Now. (GRONCISN).
Yes I am shocked, shocked I tell thee... That Maplins is still trading, what a pile of crap (most of the stock).
If the tech isnt a year behind (with original prices) its just rubbish cheap crap.
The staff are also a blast, no knowledge of products and a teenagers atitude of "dont know mate" followed by chatting to his co-worker about the weekend.
I prefered Tandy :)
I'd really miss the opportunity to buy overpriced electronics if I'm desperate or spend some time browsing without the intention of buying.
A friend of mine who worked there said "High paid management who made nothing but bad decisions based on ideas that worked years ago.
Not listening to ideas that would work.
Knowing how financially bad things were but still spending well over half a million on a radio campaign which brought in very low returns
Trying to purchase and (re)brand poor quality audio and gaming equipment from the far east at stupid prices... And sell it for an even higher price.
And not realising that online shopping sites such as amazon were their main competitors rather than brick and mortar stores like argos, John Lewis etc. "
I'm surprised that they have lasted this long with how overpriced everything is (especially in Ireland). I bought a USB 3.0 128GB flash drive at Media Markt in Germany about a year ago for EUR 27, in Maplin today your would be looking at approx EUR 70 (Maplin own brand) or around EUR 80 for a branded one. This is just one example why this is happening to Maplin.
I'd go in and have a browse around but then be ambushed by the staff straight away wanting to know what I wanted... another thing that is offputting...
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