Toys R Us and Maplins go bust

I am thinking of people like @supermatelot and his Chinese radio kit. What if a local store could help with giving him some guidance, replacing any missing components, and testing and fault finding - if and when needed?

Computers and cars must be another example. How many of us are slightly reluctant to do projects without some sort of back up and advice source?
Ah...I forgot about that thread...will update.

Long story short...did it work???


Did it feck!

...Must have been dodgy components...
 

endure

GCM
Maplin weren't cheap, either.

In their closing down 'sale' our local Maplins had reduced their 13 amp 1 meter kettle leads from £15 to £10. Farnell will sell you the same thing for £2.50...
 

skid2

LE
Book Reviewer
I am thinking of people like @supermatelot and his Chinese radio kit. What if a local store could help with giving him some guidance, replacing any missing components, and testing and fault finding - if and when needed?

Computers and cars must be another example. How many of us are slightly reluctant to do projects without some sort of back up and advice source?
Aren’t there things called repair cafes?
 
I am thinking of people like @supermatelot and his Chinese radio kit. What if a local store could help with giving him some guidance, replacing any missing components, and testing and fault finding - if and when needed?

Computers and cars must be another example. How many of us are slightly reluctant to do projects without some sort of back up and advice source?
Would they charge for such a service? And if not, why not? They have to make money; a shop like the average former Maplins has probably got an overhead somewhere between £100 to £200 an hour before it sells anything. An assistant spending ten minutes providing guidance and advice isn’t selling.

The added value approach works when selling products with high margins and strong customer retention. Think beauty consultants when you walk into a department store. It doesn’t work when you are selling cheap, low margin components for a hobby. Especially when your customer can buy the same stuff on line for peanuts.
 
In their closing down 'sale' our local Maplins had reduced their 13 amp 1 meter kettle leads from £15 to £10. Farnell will sell you the same thing for £2.50...
When Maplin was a catalogue / mail order business only (you had to buy the catalogue from W H Smith) they were great. When they opened their first couple or three stores they were also great - Aladdin's caves staffed by knowledgeable people who largely enjoyed being surrounded by a billion electronic components.

It went to ratshit following it's acquisition by a venture capital company around the turn of the century, increasingly losing its way with that and with each subsequent sale to the next VCC. By the time it went bust it was utter garbage with no product coherence, few if any shop floor staff with any product knowledge and ludicrous pricing.
 
When Maplin was a catalogue / mail order business only (you had to buy the catalogue from W H Smith) they were great. When they opened their first couple or three stores they were also great - Aladdin's caves staffed by knowledgeable people who largely enjoyed being surrounded by a billion electronic components.

It went to ratshit following it's acquisition by a venture capital company around the turn of the century, increasingly losing its way with that and with each subsequent sale to the next VCC. By the time it went bust it was utter garbage with no product coherence, few if any shop floor staff with any product knowledge and ludicrous pricing.
VDD if it's a FET circuit :)
 
When Maplin was a catalogue / mail order business only (you had to buy the catalogue from W H Smith) they were great. When they opened their first couple or three stores they were also great - Aladdin's caves staffed by knowledgeable people who largely enjoyed being surrounded by a billion electronic components.

It went to ratshit following it's acquisition by a venture capital company around the turn of the century, increasingly losing its way with that and with each subsequent sale to the next VCC. By the time it went bust it was utter garbage with no product coherence, few if any shop floor staff with any product knowledge and ludicrous pricing.
Without wishing to be pedantic, Maplins was bought and sold by a series of private equity companies, not venture capitalists. VCs invest in early stage businesses, not established businesses.

This is significant; when they sold Maplin’s owners had taken the business as far as they could. It needed a big slug of cash to grow and modernise. The first two PE investors took Maplins a long way. As late as 2012, it was profitable and debt free, and the PE owners were ready to exit by floating on the LSE.

The float never happened and it was again sold privately. The new owners took a risky approach; doubling the SKUs held in their eCommerce business. But they were taking on Amazon, EBay etc in a highly competitive space without the cash to do it properly.

My personal view is that hybrid retail business are doomed. Bricks and mortar operation with eCommerce tacked on won’t survive.
 

Yokel

LE
Would they charge for such a service? And if not, why not? They have to make money; a shop like the average former Maplins has probably got an overhead somewhere between £100 to £200 an hour before it sells anything. An assistant spending ten minutes providing guidance and advice isn’t selling.

The added value approach works when selling products with high margins and strong customer retention. Think beauty consultants when you walk into a department store. It doesn’t work when you are selling cheap, low margin components for a hobby. Especially when your customer can buy the same stuff on line for peanuts.
Selling components yes. However it was talking about the sort of kits that featured in their catalogues back in the days of them being a mail order business. Kits ranged in both difficulty and price range, from a project for a newbie that costed a few quid to one for the expert that cost over £100 or more.

Things like Raspberry Pi should have been a great opportunity for them.

Anyway even the High Street KFC has closed and left an empty shell.
 
Selling components yes. However it was talking about the sort of kits that featured in their catalogues back in the days of them being a mail order business. Kits ranged in both difficulty and price range, from a project for a newbie that costed a few quid to one for the expert that cost over £100 or more.

Things like Raspberry Pi should have been a great opportunity for them.

Anyway even the High Street KFC has closed and left an empty shell.
You need to sell a lot of £100 kits just to cover your overhead. To put it in to perspective, their Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) are going to be at least 40% of retail price. So their Gross Profit on a £100 would be £60 and they need to sell four kits an hour just to break even. There is simply not the demand for the volume to make it viable when customers can buy online from businesses that don't have the overhead.

Business is about the numbers; that's the harsh reality. Maplins were on the wrong side of the D2C revolution in the sector they operated.
 

TamH70

MIA
Are there? Never heard of them. What are they? Genuine question.
I think that this kind of thing is what's referred to:


No use to me as I don't do Facebook but it may be of some interest to those that do.
 

skid2

LE
Book Reviewer
Are there? Never heard of them. What are they? Genuine question.

Allegedly places where people who know one end of a screwdriver from another they fix things that other people bring in.
Mainly electrical and mechanical things. Try repaircafe.org
 

endure

GCM
I think that this kind of thing is what's referred to:


No use to me as I don't do Facebook but it may be of some interest to those that do.

I can see lots of problems with liability especially if they're repairing electrical goods that go on to burn their owner's house down after repair. That's why most charities will no longer take in electrical goods.
 
I can see lots of problems with liability especially if they're repairing electrical goods that go on to burn their owner's house down after repair. That's why most charities will no longer take in electrical goods.
I imagine they are like the now rare diy garage facilities to rent. You rent a bay by the hour/day or whatever and get the use of all a fully equipped workshop, tools, lifts and associated machinery etc with expert advice on hand. You do the work, the expert adviser advises but doesn’t actually do any of it for you.

There used to be a Google Cafe or some-such in Sheffield city centre - never went in it but I think it was a learn to do stuff over coffee and cakes with similar anorak clad cake googlers.
 

Yokel

LE
I can see lots of problems with liability especially if they're repairing electrical goods that go on to burn their owner's house down after repair. That's why most charities will no longer take in electrical goods.
There is such a thing as PAT testing! Many charities do collect and sell electrical items, and check and PAT test them.

I would be interested in the repair cafe thing as an opportunity to use and develop faultfinding skills. Surely everyone has a go at repairing their own stuff?

I think I have mentioned things like FABLab....
 
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Yokel

LE
I used to look in the project section of the Maplin catalogue and wonder could there be an opportunity to construct kits for people who were not interested in doing the work themselves?

That could be a small business. Not sure how one would market it though. These days you could use a lot of modules and kits from the likes of Velleman who are decent enough to drill holes in the PCBs.

Sometimes kits formed the basis of student projects.
 

Yokel

LE
There must be some sort of market for things such as displays, parking sensors that you can fit to any car; remote controls, timers, home automation, that sort of thing. The likes of Velleman offer a good variety of things that could be of interest to the homeowner, motorist, or small business.

I am thinking of the times when a few tweaks and modifications are called for.
 
There must be some sort of market for things such as displays, parking sensors that you can fit to any car; remote controls, timers, home automation, that sort of thing. The likes of Velleman offer a good variety of things that could be of interest to the homeowner, motorist, or small business.

I am thinking of the times when a few tweaks and modifications are called for.
There is a solid market, but it’s satisfied by eCommerce. There’s no way it’s viable to run a shop with stock and staff when the stiff can be bought direct from the maker.
 
There is a solid market, but it’s satisfied by eCommerce. There’s no way it’s viable to run a shop with stock and staff when the stiff can be bought direct from the maker.
And it’s a pity because I used to love wandering around Maplin and buying bits and pieces of electronic gear. The chances of anything arriving by post in Saigon without being nicked Are vanishingly small - although I should add the most of the theft happens at the UK post office side.
 

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