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Toys R Us and Maplins go bust

There was an item on the BBC South West news programme, Spotlight, last night, about shops in Exeter struggling with the burden of business rates and rent increases. Surely councils must realise that driving local, independent, shops out of existence is not in their interest?

I fear that soon every High Street will be a clone of charity shops and dumbed down national chains. Even independent food/drink vendors are under the cosh. Not everyone like Starbucks and would prefer a local coffee shop or cafe.
That's Ben Bradshaw's oasis of socialism in a majority Conservative region isn't it? It's all the government's fault for not giving them enough money no doubt.
 
That's Ben Bradshaw's oasis of socialism in a majority Conservative region isn't it? It's all the government's fault for not giving them enough money no doubt.
Ben Bradshaw is the MP - but so what? No idea what party runs the local council. It is the same story in every town and city. The same issue exists in the Conservative constituency in the North of the county. Nationally, independent traders are being screwed into oblivion by taxes, rates, rent.
 
Ben Bradshaw is the MP - but so what? No idea what party runs the local council. It is the same story in every town and city. The same issue exists in the Conservative constituency in the North of the county. Nationally, independent traders are being screwed into oblivion by taxes, rates, rent.
Labour seats 28/39 Tories 8/39
 
Ben Bradshaw is the MP - but so what? No idea what party runs the local council. It is the same story in every town and city. The same issue exists in the Conservative constituency in the North of the county. Nationally, independent traders are being screwed into oblivion by taxes, rates, rent.
Nationally, independents and small multiples are being screwed into oblivion by the the big retailers who sell everything imaginable at seriously screwed down prices from edge of town mega stores.

Taxes are taxes whatever business you are in. Rents are set by private landlords generally and business rates are set by central government. These are largely pro rata'd to the size of the business and its premises/location and of course, make up a lower proportion of gross profit in a million pounds of sales per week superstore than they do in a small business with sales of a few hundreds per week.

Independents cannot compete on price or range so naturally, they lose footfall, lose sales but largely, operating costs remain the same as gross profit drops. It is abhorrent but it is the way of a free market place. The only way it can ever change is by central government interference or a mindset change in people such that they start using local high streets en masse... use it or lose it holds very true in this case.
 
CarpetRight to close 92 stores and shed 300 jobs...

Won't be long before the rug is pulled out from under their feet. Things aren't going to get any easier any time soon that's for sure.
 
I'm sorry for their employees, but I'm not surprised. After enquiring and much teeth-sucking from the otherwise helpful salesman, I ended up buying the wool carpet - same make - from a single operator business in Darlington via ebay for a lot less/m2 than they were quoting, and it arrived in three days - unlike the 14 days minimum quoted by Carpet Right. Mr Darlington told me of an elderley customer (now his) who lived directly opposite the store and who bought a store remnant from them - which they refused to deliver before the 14 days threshold.

Economies of scale only work up to a certain point in business.
 

Joshua Slocum

LE
Book Reviewer
I did a job for WH Smith years ago, taking photographs of their execs and corporate headquarters for an annual report. I think it was in Swindon.

I had never met such a bunch of sour faced almost exclusively female stuck up opinionated bitches.

It was explained to me that these women were responsible for the positioning of where in the stores a book would be sighted. In pre Waterstones/Amazon days a huge amount of power, and their decision could be the difference between a book selling millions or hardly any copies at all.

No wonder they were so stuck up, having all of that power and having to live in Swindon.
Readers Digest used to be down there as well !!
 
That really would be lovely.

I avoid Smith's and Boot's wherever possible. If either or both ever go bust, then it will be for the most obvious of reasons; they have completely ignored the principles of operating in a competitive market and have priced themselves out of it.

Now, shall I buy a Chinese made greetings card from a card shop in the high street at 99p, or shall I buy the same thing from W H Smith's at £4.99? Hmm... difficult one.
QED.

WHSmith sells £7.99 hospital toothpaste
 
And now House of Fraser to lose 31 of its stores.
Now, I realise these are big department stores under different names which take the House of Fraser as its corporate identity but found a lot of their stuff was really good quality. With quality comes a big price and not sure people want to pay that much in this day and age for things.
We bought a really good quality sofa and 2 armchairs from them about 20 years ago. Even then it was £2300 but is still going strong in its third home (daughter and then newly married niece ending up with it).
Six to eight thousand jobs going if you include those in head office etc.
Maybe we won't have a high street in the future. Simply a row of large TV screens where you press a button and make your choice.
Considering some of the crap I've bought on the internet that turns out to be nothing like it looks on the picture (example: Citizen ladies eco watch from Amazon that turned out to be about a centimetre across and impossible to read).
Clothes are especially bad on the internet. At least in a store you can actually see the size and never mind the quality but feel the width. (Cotton traders, one pair of trousers with 34 inch waist and another with 32 but the 32 being a bit loose and the 34 a bit snug for example).
 
And now House of Fraser to lose 31 of its stores.
Now, I realise these are big department stores under different names which take the House of Fraser as its corporate identity but found a lot of their stuff was really good quality. With quality comes a big price and not sure people want to pay that much in this day and age for things.
We bought a really good quality sofa and 2 armchairs from them about 20 years ago. Even then it was £2300 but is still going strong in its third home (daughter and then newly married niece ending up with it).
Six to eight thousand jobs going if you include those in head office etc.
Maybe we won't have a high street in the future. Simply a row of large TV screens where you press a button and make your choice.
Considering some of the crap I've bought on the internet that turns out to be nothing like it looks on the picture (example: Citizen ladies eco watch from Amazon that turned out to be about a centimetre across and impossible to read).
Clothes are especially bad on the internet. At least in a store you can actually see the size and never mind the quality but feel the width. (Cotton traders, one pair of trousers with 34 inch waist and another with 32 but the 32 being a bit loose and the 34 a bit snug for example).
Sainsburys seem to be going that way, our local used to stock Blurays and music CDs, but no longer

It's been replaced by an instore Argos with a load of display kiosks like you're in a MaccyD

So instead of sometimes making an impulse purchase, I think why bother with a kiosk when I could browse on the internet at home and probably get it cheaper anyway

It rather takes the fun out of it....
 
I've said it all before, but I'll give my ha'pennys worth again.

The high street is dying. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. The reasons are many, and online and out of town competition is just part of it.

Councils, Government and private landlords are all part of the reasons too.

I'll try to explain my logic.

First of all, local councils, etc, are greedy. They are short of money all over and they feel that one way to raise revenue is with milking motorists and local businesses. Car parks are expensive, in most places, and god forbid you don't get back to your car on time, or the ticket will cost an arm and a leg (ask how I know!). This puts people off going to the high street in the first place.

Businesses then suffer and start to close down. This leads firms to close down completely or relocate. The council then sees a fall in business rate revenue and then raises the levy on the remaining businesses. These businesses then feel the squeeze and can't remain and then they close, and so on.

The government wants its pound of flesh from all these firms too.

Finally, many private landlords stick up their rent as far as they can, until businesses can no longer afford all the accumulated charges and close.

All of this results in a high street that is just worth going to, paying high parking charges, risking a fine for being ten minutes late....so more businesses lose trade etc etc etc.

I'm afraid that I no longer support local traders in my local towns since I got a, fairly hefty, parking fine for the ticket blowing off the dash when I closed the door. Yes, my fault, I should have checked, but have you noticed how many tickets are no longer of the "sticky" variety? Cheaper for the council to operate the machines, but also more jeopardy for tickets for the motorist. Co-incidence? Not sure I believe in that. Win-win for the councils that one. Lose-lose for the local shops. The short term gain for the council on me paying twice to park that day, is a long term loss for the high streets.

I can simply order my stuff online and have it delivered next day or so at no risk. Who loses here? Not me. I get the stuff cheaper and at no risk. The local businesses, however, get no revenue from me at all.

So, how is it to be combated?

First of all, make parking in the town centers free. Yes, I understand that councils want to ensure that car parks are not taken up by commuters and workers, so make it sensible. four or five hours free. Give people time to go and do what they want to do, unhurried and stress free.

Lower business rates and taxes for startups etc for the first year or two. Give the firms a chance to get going and establish themselves. Then start to charge on gross profit etc, up to a fixed point. The lower the profit the lower the charges. Surely 2% of something from an operating business is better than 10% of nothing from a closed shop?

Landlords need to understand that they are dealing with an endangered species. They need to price appropriately and to work with their tenants to ensure that they can actually afford the rent. Too much, the firm folds and they have no income.

The more businesses that are in the high street and the easier it is to go in, the more people will go. It needs to be somewhere WANT to go, as they most certainly no longer NEED to go anymore.

The answer lies, first of all, with local authorities. Change the attitude now, or end up even more short of funds soon.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
I remember hearing a tale years ago. It's best summed up in this blog from 2009.

The buggy whip industry
The buggy whip industry has long failed and ceased to exist (except for a few remaining artisans making a handcrafted product for a very small and discerning equestrian client base and one small community in the Pennsylvania Dutch country). But, despite popular opinion, it was not the advent of the automobile that caused the demise of this once prosperous industry. The industry failed because makers of buggy whips thought they were actually in the buggy whip business.
Clear? No? Really?
Ok, let’s look at it this way, they were so involved in worrying about their “product” they forgot to focus on the “industry” in which they existed. More to the point, they failed to clearly define the “service” their product provided to their client base. Therefore, with product moving off the shelf everyday, it was difficult for them to see the end of the need for their product was approaching. They confused “product” and “product sales” with “market” and “market potential.” It is like throwing a rock into the air: before it falls, it reaches it highest point. So up until the very last minute, you look good. What service did the buggy whip industry provide?
When automobiles were still in the minds of visionaries, everybody who had somewhere to go within a certain radius of their home rode a carriage, coach, or a buggy. It might have been his or her own buggy, a rental, or a cabbie, but whatever it was, it inevitably had a horse on the front end to make it go. To make the horse go, you had a buggy whip. In essence, a “personal convenience starting mechanism.”
The “new fangled automobiles” had starting cranks located in the front of the car. This item had to be provided for every automobile manufactured. Why? Because this item was used to make the engine start, a “personal convenience starting mechanism.” The original cranks were often lost or broken and needed to be replaced — the first replacement “auto part.” Therefore, isn’t it logical that, rather than disappear as the need for its existing “product” declined, buggy whip companies convert from a “buggy part” company into an “auto part” company? But they didn’t. They just kept making buggy whips until nobody was buying them anymore.
So the buggy whip industry disappeared not because cars made their product obsolete, but because they forgot the service that their product provided was “ignition.” As the product needs of the client change, you change your product or service or go the way of the buggy whip.
Is this a unique instance of self-directed obsolescence? No, not really. The railroad passenger business all but disappeared in this country, as they competed with the airline industry in the 1950s and 1960s due to the fact they forgot they were transportation companies that happened to own trains. They could have just as easily become transportation companies that owned trains ! and planes. The steamship industry waited twenty years to shift their focus from “transportation” of travelers to the “partying” of vacationers, a shift in “end product” that saved an industry that has been in distress since the late 50s. (Of course, movies like Titanic” do not help a lot.)
Every industry needs to look at its product offerings periodically to insure that it is making the needed changes in those products, product delivery, and product cost to provide needed and relevant services that will help in the mission of building client base. It is very difficult to do this when unprecedented growth has blinded the industry to changes in its clients’ service needs, requirements, or conditions of business.
Well, it is not quite as busy now as it was six months ago, and that gives the recruiting industry an opportunity to review our business, services, practices, and client costs to determine if we are truly relevant — or a buggy whip seeking a market
 
Their chain of 99p stores went into administration last year. Even with the inflated £1 stores they couldn't make enough profit.
Probably had to employ too many people to answer the "How much is this, please?" customers.
 
That has been on the cards for a while... it seems the vultures are circling though. Sports Direct or Edinburgh Woollen Mills may pick up the business for a bargain basement price.

The Department Store as we know it model has had its day though... who's next? My money is on Debenhams.

Watch out for Homebase too. Things are definitely looking shaky there with 60 stores being closed. Farmers/Bunnings should be very proud of themselves for practically destroying that business and then selling the wreckage on for £1.
 
hardly surprising hardly surprising , I took Doris over to Edinburgh a couple of months ago as she waned some perfume stuff , for her birthday present , we found everything in the shop was eye wateringly expensive , she sampled the stuff she wanted , and was dithering as usual whether to pay the hundred pounds or not, we were going to return and buy it when she saw a dedicated perfumery about 50 yards down the road that were selling the same for £20 less...three guesses which one she got... same was going for their ladies and gents clothing... they were living ion their name and reputation and failing to keep in line with current trends and competitors (and I don't mean Mattalan or Primark)
 

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