The next store to close is....

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    Toys R Us has gone into administration, putting 3,000 UK jobs at risk.


    Administrators have been appointed to begin "an orderly wind-down" of the UK's biggest toy retailer following the failure to find a buyer.

    They said that all 105 Toys R Us stores will remain open until further notice.

    Joint administrator Simon Thomas said: "Whilst this process is likely to affect many Toys R Us staff, whether some or all of the stores will close remains to be decided."

    Looks like the next round of blood letting in the retail world is about to start with both Toys R Us collapsing and Maplins about to follow them.


    I haven't been in a Toys R Us store for decades, but I did go in them while I was still a kid and in fact went in my local store when it first opened in 1985. Only wish I was younger, becuase for a young kid, I imagine it would've been something akin to heaven with toys stacked up high to the roofs.


    My first purchase in the store was one of the board games that was going around at the time and I got a bike a little later. But they did have one innovation during the 80s that was well ahead of its time and it was called a PCTV. It was as it sounds, a portable tv with a computer (a full IBM PC) built into the base of the tv. Just what I needed, the best of both worlds!


    I had all Commodore computers during the 80s and I eventually wanted to upgrade to a proper "adult" computer, the so called IBM PCs, so I went on a mission one day to the Toys R Us store to buy the PCTV.


    Like many things in the store, you could actually play/use their stuff, so I took quite some time having a good use of the PCTV and it was very innovative, with a interface akin to a smartphone today. You turned it on and you got screen of options in which you could choose to watch tv, record a show, play a computer game etc, all from the one interface. Fantastic, except it wasn't...


    Although the idea was well ahead of its time, the actual product was way behind other products on the market at that time. The picture quality of the tv was poor and the processor in the unit was terrible, not even sure it was a x386 let alone a x486. I had my own computer game with me and the PCTV struggled with it. The graphics of the game on the PCTV were awful. I decided not to purchase it. It was neither a good tv or a good computer, so it was the worst of both worlds, not the best.


    That was my last visit to Toys R Us store and that was around the late 80s.


    Have you ever been into a Toys R Us store. Will you miss them?

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    Have you ever been into a Toys R Us store. Will you miss them?

    No and no.


    Maplin started out as mail order only for the electronics enthusiast to get components and kits from. I think the "mistake" is in opening lots of expensive high street shops just when the professional suppliers like Farnell and RS components have moved on-line, abandoned trade only sales and minimum order value (except to qualify for free P&P).


    Little bit of trivia: The original IBM XT PC used a 4MHz 8086 CPU, pressing "Turbo" doubled the clock to 8MHz.

    • Official Post

    One of the UK's biggest electronics retailers has collapsed into administration after talks with potential buyers failed to secure a sale.

    Maplin, which has more than 200 stores and 2,500 staff, will continue to trade through the process.


    The business faced the slump in the pound, weak consumer confidence and a withdrawal of credit insurance.

    These factors made it "impossible" to raise capital, boss Graham Harris said.

    • Official Post

    No and no.


    Maplin started out as mail order only for the electronics enthusiast to get components and kits from. I think the "mistake" is in opening lots of expensive high street shops just when the professional suppliers like Farnell and RS components have moved on-line, abandoned trade only sales and minimum order value (except to qualify for free P&P).


    Little bit of trivia: The original IBM XT PC used a 4MHz 8086 CPU, pressing "Turbo" doubled the clock to 8MHz.

    I think the 8086 was before my time, but not sure, I was more interested in playing games then, than understanding the underlying technology.:)


    I think with Maplins, and a lot of shops all make the same mistake, is they all get onto each other's turf. They don't stick to what they're good at and they expand or try different things.


    Toys R Us was a model past its sell by date and a lot of these "big box" out of town retailers are or will suffer the same fate. Apart from things like bikes, which you could try in the stores, if there are toys cheaper elsewhere especially online, people will go for that.


    I read a article a few weeks ago,(I will try and post it if I find it) that said that Toys R Us should have turned itself into a "event" like shop. Become more theme park than retailer to attract the children and their parents, with the cash, to their shops.

    • Official Post

    One of the UK's biggest electronics retailers has collapsed into administration after talks with buyers failed to secure a sale.


    Maplin, which has more than 200 stores and 2,300 staff, will continue to trade through the process.

    The business faced the slump in the pound after the Brexit vote, weak consumer confidence and a withdrawal of credit insurance.

    I wonder which shop is next?

  • Toys R Us was a model past its sell by date and a lot of these "big box" out of town retailers are or will suffer the same fate. Apart from things like bikes, which you could try in the stores, if there are toys cheaper elsewhere especially online, people will go for that.


    I read a article a few weeks ago,(I will try and post it if I find it) that said that Toys R Us should have turned itself into a "event" like shop. Become more theme park than retailer to attract the children and their parents, with the cash, to their shops.

    The big box stores (known in the US as "merchandise killers") rely on sheer volume of turnover and they rightly expect that effortless parking compared with the average high street will help attract customers. I think this retailing formula works better for Homebase, B&Q, Wickes and PC World. I'm not too sure it works for a product category where inspirational- or impulse-purchasing is required to convert a visit into a purchase, least of all when a parent takes a small child to a mega toy store (Toys 'r Us) and the child is inspired by almost everything and the parent knows from bitter experience that this inspiration may wane a couple of weeks after purchase.


    Even in the US, Toys 'r Us couldn't make it work and have gone bust. Yet The Entertainer toy retail chain is surviving ... so far ...... not least because they offer "retail theatre", a mini Hamly's, whereas Toys r' Us allows the pile-it-high heavily merchandised display to distract from the actual product appeal, where choice becomes confusing, boring and tiring. In making a sales pitch, if you throw several balls at a prospective purchasers all at once, the purchaser won't be able to catch any of them.


    On-line has enabled consumers to exercise price sensitivity without running themselves ragged. High street and out-of-town retailers have websites that include on-line shopping baskets. If purchasers wants to make closer acquaintance with the actual product they can visit the store and then go home and buy it online from another seller at the most competitive price. This knocks the stuffing out of retailer image as a purchase influence. As retail competition increases the finer points of retail image give way to price and convenience. Being a big box store, a merchandise killer, is so "yesterday" for products that can be bought on line and posted or couriered (or droned?!) to your door. DIY/home improvement emporiums are an exception for a number of reasons but even they need to offer on-line as an alternative method purchase which, in effect, becomes a retail shop delivery service.


    Mappins Electrical was nuts to open so many outlets. Their "offering" was never the stuff of mass high street sales and they didn't know how to cross over into a mainstream retailer - it was impossible without abandoning their niche reason for being.

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    The big box stores (known in the US as "merchandise killers") rely on sheer volume of turnover and they rightly expect that effortless parking compared with the average high street will help attract customers. I think this retailing formula works better for Homebase, B&Q, Wickes and PC World.

    As retail competition increases the finer points of retail image give way to price and convenience. Being a big box store, a merchandise killer, is so "yesterday" for products that can be bought on line and posted or couriered (or droned?!) to your door. DIY/home improvement emporiums are an exception for a number of reasons but even they need to offer on-line as an alternative method purchase which, in effect, becomes a retail shop delivery service.

    Where do you reckon the out of town furniture retailers fit into all this? Do they have a future?


    There have been many causalities over the last ten years or so, like MFI, but there are still many more shops and some of them such as DFS are hardly cheap for the tat they sell.


    I agree about shops like B&Q, but as the new Australian owners of Homebase are finding out, DIY is not a guarantee of success and you mention PC World which is doing fine now, now that Comet got knocked out. That was a surprise.

    Although not technically a furniture store, the media is reporting that Carpetright is almost finished too. Having been in on one of their stores and endured their customer "service" I can understand why.

  • I've seen so many out-of-town furniture emporiums bite the dust. It's not a high frequency purchase. You go into one and it's a ghost town. Remember World of Leather? The people who created that chain ought to have been certified.


    Comet stopped being cheap once on-line operators entered the market. Electrical appliances, white goods (fridges, freezers , ovens) and brown goods (audio, video, TV) are so easy to price-compare based on brand and model ..... and it's so easy to arrange delivery rather than haul it out out of the store yourself - the only thing that surprised me about Comet's demise was that it took so long.


    Carpetright as a superstore never made sense to me. You still have to order the carpet and arrange for it to be laid. So why bother with giant rolls which require a superstore. All that's needed are swatchbooks, good delivery arrangements with the manufacturers, good sales staff and customer parking space. I loved it when Carpetright defended it's profit warning years ago by saying it was gaining share in a shrinking market. That's a bit like being the last company in the early 20th century to make horse buggies - eventually your market share will reach 100% (unless your market universe is Amish communities).


    Don't forget that B&Q, Homebase et al are not just DIY but home improvement in a much broader sense. The wide range compensates for lack of frequency of purchase for any one specific type of product. If you don't need a new drill or lawn mower, you might want some draft excluder or a new kitchen or bathroom or shower-head or table lamp or paint or log burning stove or barbecue .... the list goes and on - and all of it is driven by home improvement.


    Also, your comment about poor customer service applies to several of these superstores, not just Carpetright. If you're unlucky enough to find a sales person then the problems include gormlessness, ignorance, stupidity or mindless hard sell. Adding to the problem is a range of choice with gaps, which makes you wonder why the hell you went there in the first place. Anyway, if you happen to see just what you're looking for you are bound to find it is cheaper online. Why go to a store for gormless impersonal service when you can go on-line, sidestep the merchandise flogger sales goon, home in on the exact product specification, check a few reviews, buy it cheaper and get a fast delivery date that you can count on?


    I wouldn't be surprised if PC World is eventually going to feel the draft and either downsize into a shop-within-a-shop at Dixons or stretch their range beyond PC's. . Their prices are uncompetitive, their sales staff are inexpert and helpful to customers who can't read what's printed on the display card. Again, if one wants to just stroke a few products, press a few keys , then PC World or Dixons might suffice - and after that one goes on line and gets exactly what one wants at a keener price.

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    Is Currys any different though, with regards to gormless sales assistants? I had an experience of Currys last year and it wasn't so good.... I take your point about online and being cheaper and all that, but when I went into Curry's last year to buy a fridge freezer, I did need to actually see them and they are not all the same, not by a long shot. Sometimes we need to actually have a bricks and mortar shop still. I did like Comet, overall.


    I agree about with your points about Carpertright. Most people get someone in to fit the carpets, so why bother having huge rolls of carpets in the first place. Their customer service in my local town is appalling, so much so that I felt like putting a brick through one of their windows after my last visit to their store. Good riddance to them.


    On the DIY stores, my DIY skills are almost zero and less and less people do their own DIY now. Do you see this as a problem for stores like B&Q, or do you think they'll adapt and offer more various home improvement services?


    I do remember Word of Leather, but why the certified comment? What do you think was the issue with them? It's been a while now, so my memory of that particular store is somewhat lacking now.

  • I agree totally that, for gormless assistants, Currys/Dixons is up there in the top decile. When Artificial Intelligence gets into orbit, these types of human sales staff will be on the scrapheap. My prediction of PC World downsizing into a hole in the wall within Currys/Dixons is just part of a slow death, quite possibly for the whole tawdry Currys/Dixons empire. Large corporations stay in denial for too long, playing with name changes, new ad campaigns, store re-design .... whatever it takes to fool the city to prop up the share price for just long enough for the board to retire on fat pensions and gradually and quietly sell their shares or cash in if some external corporate megalomaniac thinks it can acquire the whole mess and turn it around (or sell it off in bits). I bought Currys/Dixons shares back in the seventies when it was run by Stanley Kalms and it was a terrific performing stock. I sold out when Stanley Kalms kicked himself upstairs into chairman, and 2 years later he retired and the share price became a straight line and then zigzagged downwards.


    I think stores like B&Q, Wickes, Homebase etc are already adapting or re-positioning themselves from mainly DIY to DIY+Home Improvement. In other words, from only the means to also the end.


    Why the certified comment about World of Leather? Because it's stupid enough to create a vast emporium concentrating solely on a low-frequency purchase like upholstery but to then concentrate on a sub-segment of that product segment (leather upholstery) takes a degree of stupidity that should be kept off the streets. The trouble is that it's not really stupid if you can hype up the retail concept with a deceiving business and marketing plan and get investment/backing from enough mugs (including banks which back in those days were offering cash by the barrow load. Then the directors of this retailing mirage can line their pockets, go into receivership yet bail themselves out and somehow just manage to stay out of gaol.


    https://www.mirror.co.uk/opini…of-leather-victims-533543


    Egon Von Greyerz was the chairman. Prior to that he was finance director of Curry's/Dixons! Today he runs Matterhorn Asset Management, and his proposition is that world currencies are all going down the toilet and only gold will prevail. How he has managed to wipe out his earlier history goodness only knows. Everyone knows that garbage and cream both float to the top. But garbage is supposed to eventually float to the bottom. You're good at the internet and all of that, can you find out anything about Egon Von Greyerz? Are there two Egon Von Greyerz's? A bad one and a good one?

  • I like going into actual shops just to check out what I want to buy see the item in the flesh so to speak, and then look online to see if it can be got cheaper and if it is cheaper then buy it online.

    Young boys in the park jumpers for goalpost that's what footballs all about isn't it.

    • Official Post

    I agree totally that, for gormless assistants, Currys/Dixons is up there in the top decile. When Artificial Intelligence gets into orbit, these types of human sales staff will be on the scrapheap.

    Normally, I wouldn't agree about people losing their jobs, but I take exception to the special kind of breed of people that work for Currys and PC World. If you do a search on this site for Currys, you'll eventually find my post about them somewhere (perhaps in the Endless thread) about my trip to get a fridge freezer. An experience, it most definitely was!

    Why the certified comment about World of Leather? Because it's stupid enough to create a vast emporium concentrating solely on a low-frequency purchase like upholstery but to then concentrate on a sub-segment of that product segment (leather upholstery) takes a degree of stupidity that should be kept off the streets.

    That's an interesting point, which begs the question, do you think ten, twenty years down the line that Starbucks, Costa Coffee et all will be in the same position, if consumers tire of coffee?


    And thanks for the link and info about World of Leather and its boss. I shall read up on them.

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    I like going into actual shops just to check out what I want to buy see the item in the flesh so to speak, and then look online to see if it can be got cheaper and if it is cheaper then buy it online.

    When I bought my fridge freezer, I had to see it, because they make all look similar on the outside, they differ vastly in terms of usable space inside, especially in the freezer section.


    So, yes I still want "proper" shops too.

  • To Horizon and Ron Manager: If the shop has a decent range where you found a £700 fridge-freezer you wanted and it offered a reliable and reasonably prompt delivery, how much extra would you pay compared with the price from a reliable on-line supplier? £710? £720? £740?


    To put it another way, how much extra would you pay to see it in the flesh before you buy? Because if the answer is 0% - and most consumers felt that way - then this real retail facility will die.


    I wonder whether on-line virtual retailing will advance in a 3-dimensional way, to obviate the need to see the fridge-freezer in the flesh.


    What a bleak brave new world!

    • Official Post

    To Horizon and Ron Manager: If the shop has a decent range where you found a £700 fridge-freezer you wanted and it offered a reliable and reasonably prompt delivery, how much extra would you pay compared with the price from a reliable on-line supplier? £710? £720? £740?


    To put it another way, how much extra would you pay to see it in the flesh before you buy? Because if the answer is 0% - and most consumers felt that way - then this real retail facility will die.

    I know most people go by price, so you're probably right, but the Currys prices are very competitive to online and I did price check the items in-store with what was available online and Currys were either selling the stuff at the same price or only £20-£40 difference.

    I wonder whether on-line virtual retailing will advance in a 3-dimensional way, to obviate the need to see the fridge-freezer in the flesh.

    True, but what you can't do is what I did. I took some food with me and put it in the fridge freezers in the store, because I wanted to check the depth of storage of the freezer compartment. You couldn't do that even with virtual retailing.


    Another example is buying a tv, the only way to know what the picture quality is like on a tv, is to see it actually working in the shop.

  • Normally, I wouldn't agree about people losing their jobs, but I take exception to the special kind of breed of people that work for Currys and PC World. If you do a search for Currys, you'll eventually find my post about them somehow and my trip to get my fridge freezer. An experience, it most definitely was!

    That's an interesting point, which begs the question, do you think ten, twenty years down the line that Starbucks, Costa Coffee et all will be in the same position, if consumers tire of coffee?


    And thanks for the link and info about World of Leather and its boss. I shall read up on them.

    I googled Currys complaints - a vast number - wouldn't know if I'd found yours - the volume and type of complaints seems typical for Curry's. They say the rottenness of a company cascades downwards from the top - a prime example being the automatic attempt at point of payment to flog extended product insurance on an item that only cost £50-100 quid and has a 1 or 2 year manufacturer's warranty. Currys and John Lewis are at polar opposites.


    Your question about tiring of coffee in 10-20 years time is more interesting than might be imagined.


    When it comes to coffee drinking, I would say that fashionability/lifestyle takes precedence over taste discernment. This is especially the case in specialist coffee houses - a metro(-style) cafe society that can accommodate a British rather than Mediterranean climate. I would contend that the continued success of Starbucks is proof that frequenting coffee houses is more about a fashionable lifestyle than about coffee quality taste discernment and taste satisfaction (I have plenty of research examples of blind taste testing to prove that lacking a quality coffee taste is seldom a handicap to Starbucks. In a way that can be the danger of fashion-ability; that it can go out-of-fashion. On the other hand, there is no way coffee houses would have proliferated so greatly if relying on real coffee aficionados. Starbucks is smart enough to have refurbished their outlets to resemble traditional coffee lounges and offer a variety of valued-added coffee-flavouring extras to rise above dependency of a 1-dimensional coffee taste. In other words, never mind the coffee taste, think about the coffee experience!


    Sure, it's possible the British could tire of coffee. It's also possible they could tire of fish & chips, Chinese food, curry, Champagne, spaghetti bolognese, burgers, Kentucky Fried. I can think of loads of products and services that have not well stood the test of time. My top-of-the mind list put in alphabetical order is:


    Butcher shops (blind purchasing superseded by the predictable mediocrity of the supermarket)

    Carnaby Street (swinging Britain at its tattiest – nowadays Britain is more tatty than swinging)

    CD players (sharp decline, replaced by IPlayers/MP3 and usb memory sticks)

    Cinemas (increasingly threatened by the advent of streaming and home cinema)

    Desktop PC’s (superseded by eternally-connected out & abouts preferring Laptops, IPads, Smartphones).

    Discos (near vanished)

    Fax machines (near prehistoric)

    Film rental stores (technologically superseded)

    Gastropubs (reaching a plateau)

    Happy Eater (long gone because even the Great British Palate had its lower limit)

    High street travel agents (replaced by online semi or fully independent travel planning)

    Jazz clubs (dead or dying performers, with an audience to match)

    Lyons tea shops (a way of life in the middle of the 20th century Britain)

    Maps (occasionally useful; was once indispensable)

    Milk delivery (cast into oblivion by the Tetrapack)

    Polaroid (killed by mobile phones)

    Public pay phones (ditto)

    Record stores (mutilated by the record industry and on-line copying)

    Restaurants – classical/haute cuisine (trampled out by the affluent masses)

    Tape recorders (replaced by cassettes, then CD’s, then IPlayers/MP3’s, then USB memory sticks)

    Theatre – plays (bankrolled by a wealthy literate cultural elite)

    Ties (declined occasions for use, except at the Ritz and funerals))

    Video players (CHS to DVD to Sky Plus, Netflix etc)


    ***


    It’s all about changing to stay on course and survive.


    Alvin Toffler said “If you don't have a strategy, you're part of someone else's strategy ”

  • I know most people go by price, so you're probably right, but the Currys prices are very competitive to online and I did price check the items in-store with what was available online and Currys were either selling the stuff at the same price or only £20-£40 difference.

    True, but what you can't do is what I did. I took some food with me and put it in the fridge freezers in the store, because I wanted to check the depth of storage of the freezer compartment. You couldn't do that even with virtual retailing.


    Another example is buying a tv, the only way to know what the picture quality is like on a tv, is to see it actually working in the shop.

    re your freezer food size check: I must tell my wife - she thinks I'm more obsessive than anyone else she can think of who isn't locked away.


    re TV picture quality: Richer Sounds are brilliant for that and highly competitive on price. The opposite of Curry's

    • Official Post

    re your freezer food size check: I must tell my wife - she thinks I'm more obsessive than anyone else she can think of who isn't locked away.

    They're far from the same inside, even if the external dimensions are identical between models.


    It all changed when frost-free was invented. The tech to do this takes up a lot of space in the freezers and most of the freezers in Currys with the exception of two models I found, were not suitable for my needs.

    Richer Sounds are brilliant for that and highly competitive on price.

    I don't have much luck with shops....perhaps its the deodorant I wear!


    Had a bad experience with my local one, would never go in there again.

    • Official Post

    They say the rottenness of a company cascades downwards from the top - a prime example being the automatic attempt at point of payment to flog extended product insurance on an item that only cost £50-100 quid and has a 1 or 2 year manufacturer's warranty. Currys and John Lewis are at polar opposites.

    Agree about it all stems from the top and the latter comments, could create a whole new thread on that in itself.


    When it comes to coffee drinking, I would say that fashionability/lifestyle takes precedence over taste discernment. This is especially the case in specialist coffee houses - a metro(-style) cafe society that can accommodate a British rather than Mediterranean climate. I would contend that the continued success of Starbucks is proof that frequenting coffee houses is more about a fashionable lifestyle than about coffee quality taste discernment and taste satisfaction (I have plenty of research examples of blind taste testing to prove that lacking a quality coffee taste is seldom a handicap to Starbucks. In a way that can be the danger of fashion-ability; that it can go out-of-fashion. On the other hand, there is no way coffee houses would have proliferated so greatly if relying on real coffee aficionados. Starbucks is smart enough to have refurbished their outlets to resemble traditional coffee lounges and offer a variety of valued-added coffee-flavouring extras to rise above dependency of a 1-dimensional coffee taste. In other words, never mind the coffee taste, think about the coffee experience!

    I agree about its all the experience. In a way these coffee shops have replaced pubs as the go-to place to meet up.


    As for taste, I'll take supermarket own brand instant anyday! And at a fraction of the price.


    Lyons tea shops (a way of life in the middle of the 20thcentury Britain)

    Ahh, don't know that one. Too many old folks on here!:P


    That was a really good post, by the way. Each one of those listed items could be a discussion in itself.


    :thumbup::thumbup:

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