Toys R Us and Maplins go bust

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.
...another pernicious reason that Landlords won't lower rents is that lowering rent on a commercial property = lowering the capital value of said property. Many multi-commercial property owning landlords rely on the high capital values to leverage futher borrowing.
 
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.
Name one local authority in the UK that is that switched on. Just one.
 
Name one local authority in the UK that is that switched on. Just one.
I'd have to say ours isn't bad...

  • No (local authority) parking charges anywhere in the council area
  • Clean streets and open spaces
  • Free doggie poo bags to everyone that cares to pop in to any neighbourhood office to collect them
  • Well maintained parks
  • Free fortnightly garden waste collections for 9 months of every year
  • A number of council funded or sponsored events over each year
All small things perhaps but after living in Harlow, Essex for quite a number of years it is quite refreshing to have a council that at least outwardly, appears to have its population's interest at heart instead of squeezing them for every penny they can in every area of their lives.

I don't think I have ever seen a parking warden here.

 
I'm involved in a skincare products business that is starting to scale. We're in Australia, so naturally we are looking at Asia. We were discussing the South Korean market; one of the market analysts quoted to me that 90% of non-commoditised discretionary purchases made by Koreans are made on line. We throwing this around and concluded that there is a big slice of the developing world that will never use supermarkets. They'll jump straight from bartering at street stalls to buying online.

There's massive change and dislocation going on.
 
I'm involved in a skincare products business that is starting to scale. We're in Australia, so naturally we are looking at Asia. We were discussing the South Korean market; one of the market analysts quoted to me that 90% of non-commoditised discretionary purchases made by Koreans are made on line. We throwing this around and concluded that there is a big slice of the developing world that will never use supermarkets. They'll jump straight from bartering at street stalls to buying online.

There's massive change and dislocation going on.
The same way most of the developing countries are going straight from no phones/internet/desktops to cell phones/ smartphones. Everything there is done via a phone app. Everything.
 
Lots of reasons for the dying high street already covered but...Maplins.

I like Maplins because I could often find something in store and needed/wanted it that day. As time went on they stocked less. ''You have to order it from our online store'' became the norm. Thing is if I had to order it online I wouldn't necessarily buy from Maplins, so they lost the trade. They were a good shop who sealed there own fate by stocking less electrical parts and trying to force the customer online. Meanwhile they stocked up on toys. Staff unfamiliar with the products didn't help.

Oh and a favourite rant of mine...music. Some of these place were like walking into a damn disco. I refuse to believe loud music increases trade in any way. I can easily believe they pissed of potential customers though. Something even eateries seem to fail to grasp. Nowadays I just don't go into any shop or restaurant playing loud music.
 
Maybe the way in future, will be for consumers to order things on line, then go to a dedicated 'try it, take it or return it' type place. Comfy changing rooms etc with cafes and other shite.

But the high street department store as we know it, and probably many other ordinary shops are soon to be a thing of the past.

The shops I miss most? Wollys and Maplins.

Next to go? The NHS
 
HoF went formally down the crapper because it had to: £400+m due to debtors.

Landlords were still being difficult but they can now play ball or get stuffed along with the existing management, who will now of course be treated to the full Mike Ashley Experience
 
That will be interesting to see, the Glasgow shop is suffering from rent. Is a good place to shop for now.
Rent will be a crippling factor across the entire estate - that and shit board level management, high prices / poor sales and very poor adoption of technology (online market place).

Be interesting to see what Ashley does with the chain. Store closures and job losses are certain though.

Perhaps not so much a rescue as a cherry picking exercise - it seems it is no secret that Ashley will renegotiate rents and convert suitable locations to Sports Directs. If landlords do not agree to lower rents, the store will likely be closed down and vacated - just another largely unrentable and oversized retail space that'll blight yet another town/city centre.

We'll see in the fullness of time. Persisting with the HoF model though is just pointlessly flogging the nearly but not quite dead horse.
 
The Developers certainly aren't waiting to redevelop one former Maplins site in Edinburgh. Last time I looked on Google street view a Maplins store had sat on the site below for many a year, now it is just

Maplins.JPG
 

Joshua Slocum

LE
Book Reviewer
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.
I think a certain supplier of hand tools on a nationwide basis might be going the same way from their recent attempts to sell me stuff, i used to have to travel 30 miles to the nearest branch and it was always worth it, but now every town has one, our local one is rarely busy
 
I think a certain supplier of hand tools on a nationwide basis might be going the same way from their recent attempts to sell me stuff, i used to have to travel 30 miles to the nearest branch and it was always worth it, but now every town has one, our local one is rarely busy
Screwfix? ToolStation? If it is an opinion that you believe to be true you can say their name without being sued for defamation.

If it is Screwfix, the synergistic stocking by Screwfix of 'Diall' branded goods (B&Q own label) and Screwfix exclusive items appearing in B&Q may have been the first sign that serious cost cutting was on the cards.

ToolStation is owned by Travis Perkins who also own Wickes who are reporting a sales slowdown in the first half of this (trading) year.

Wickes’ parent company Travis Perkins is launching a “significant cost reduction programme” at the DIY retailer after recording a slump in interim profits.
DIY is not in a good place right now... the public aren't spending, tradesmen have many buying options but invariably, they don't use the 'sheds' on a regular and loyal basis.

Screwfix and ToolStation seem to be becoming the Argos for the DIYer after a packet of screws and a tube of glue rather than the high trade spend outlets they set themselves up to be originally.

I love the little old fashioned hardware stores and timber yard/builders merchants etc where there is real knowledge of the products they sell... unfortunately they too are being subsumed by the nationwide 'big boys' chains.
 
^My old man was group personnel manager for Travis Perkins - when they took over Wickes he took early retirement. Many senior people thought it was a bad move - The company had no experience of retail. They had always been trade.
 

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