back to article Dick limps towards inglorious end: Gadget retailer on the brink

Troubled gadget retailer Dick Smith Electronics is teetering on the brink, with banks sending in receivers after the company requested a trading halt. The company has appointed McGrath Nicol as its voluntary administrator, and lenders HSBC and NAB have sent in Ferrier Hodgson's James Stewart as receiver. Dick Smith …

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Discounting?

The discounts offered seemed to be on Dick Smith branded stuff only.

Offspring number one needed a new smartphone for Christmas, DSE were $80 - $120 more expensive than the competition.

A wireless printer seemed like a good idea for the whole family, DSE were $20 - $120 more expensive than the opposition, depending on brand.

Half empty shelves, half hearted displays, (often lacking price labels), unmotivated staff, (although who could blame them), the place stinks of death.

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Anonymous Coward

Oztralia

Can't you just put tedious news like this on your australian site, rather than cluttering up the UK with companies no one has ever heard about, let alone cared about.

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Re: Oztralia

Don't be so parochial. The Register has evolved into an international news site, for all that it is based in the UK. Show some interest in what happens outside your borders... you're starting to sound like an American! ;)

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Re: Oztralia

As an ex-pat your comment has just made me realise I still have the .co.uk bookmark that I'm accessing the site through, however, living in Sydney, this news is very relevant to me.

If you've not heard of them, why you read the article let alone make it through to the comment section? Too much free time before the return to work?

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Re: Oztralia

Can you try and prevent xenophopes and Little Englanders cluttering up your comments column?

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Re: Oztralia

I was wondering why I'd never heard of them. Still, it's an insight into Maplins future, at least.

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Re: Oztralia

Boo !%^*ing hoo.... we could say the same about Tesco and Dixons BUT we are adult enough to recognise that the site is/was UK centric. It's a wonder you don't complain about going to the loo it has foreign objects too..... polish your glasses you myopic TWAT and realize the site has expanded somewhat and the world is bigger than your basement/attic/bolthole......

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Re: Oztralia

you're starting to sound like an American! ;)

I think you misspelt Merkin...

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FAIL

Re: Oztralia

If you don't like Australian news, you shouldn't have colinised the place to begin with.

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Re: Oztralia

They're more like Comet / Currys / Dixons than Maplins ... a few of those already foreshadow Smiths ; )

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we may not have heard of the company but the headline sounds great out here

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You would like their technical support staff in store - their shirts say "Clever Dick" on them..

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their shirts say "Clever Dick"

DSE's delivery vans used to have "The Electronic Dick" on them. Dick used to commute between the first two stores on a motorised pogo stick!

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It's a sad end

for a childhood icon, although it has seemed inevitable ever since they dropped the hobbyist market and became just another phone/consumer electronics shop.

As a boy in the 70s and early 80s before I got into computers, I was into electronics. Tricky Dicky (as DSE was called by hobbyists then) was the go-to store whenever you needed hobbyist gear - from discrete components to common CMOS/TTL ICs to PCB etching fluid to soldering irons. I still fondly remember riding my bike all the way into town instead of the local shopping mall because of DSE selling transistors at 14 cents each when Tandy Electronics were ripping people off $1.95 for a two-pack, and because DSE was about the only place in my city to get the latest issue of ETI magazine. And of course his Fun Way into Electronics kits were what I cut my teeth on - digital counters, sound effect generators (remember the old SN76477 chip?), light chasers and even a digital bike speedometer.

So in a way it's sad to see them finally disappear from the scene. But in reality the essence of what they were had disappeared many years ago, when they transitioned from the hobbyist market to the consumer electronics market. When the hobbyist section gradually shrank from being most of the store to a small corner down the back was the death knell for the Tricky Dicky I used to know and love as a kid, and that was a long time ago.

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Re: It's a sad end

I was about to write a similar comment but you beat me to it. Nicely written by the way.

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Re: It's a sad end

Indeed, but luckily there is Aztronics who can fill that void, and to a lesser extent, Jaycar.

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Re: It's a sad end

Part of the fun was Dick Smith’s wicked sense of humour. Like promoting “Smith’s Chips” and his April Fools pranks, notably the Printed Integrated Circuit (The PRIC).

Still he showed great sense when he sold off the business and went off in a helicopter.

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Re: It's a sad end

You are so right - they haven't been a proper Dick Smith for years now.

And fwiw, it has only gone into receivership in Australia so far. New Zealand is still trading - let's hope it survives to the end of the week.

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Re: It's a sad end

DSNZ are in receivership too and are not honouring gift cards for instance. The whole show is coming to an end. As others have said, JB Hifi is a better bet for consumer goods and if I need bits of wire etc I can go to Jaycar which has all the stuff I used to get at DS.

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Re: It's a sad end

@ Steve Roper

Amen!

FWIW, the very large premium being charged by Tandy was likely due to blowing a huge amount of money in their first year attempting to put DSE out of business.

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Re: It's a sad end

I can go to Jaycar which has all the stuff I used to get at DS.

No co-tanger replacement car aerials, but!

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JB HiFi killed them?

There was some discussion here and elsewhere that JB HiFi was stealing all of Dick Smith's business in the expensive consumer electronics space, and that shoppers found JB HiFi a more pleasant place to shop (bigger range of stuff, better prices). My complaint is that JB HiFi plays f*cking terrible music at high volume - I need to wear noise reduction earplugs when I go in there (and those damn kids are on my lawn again, neehhh). At least Dick Smith was fairly quiet, and the staff generally pretty knowledgeable.

But yes, when they stopped selling components, and started only stocking Belkin and Monster A/V leads, the death knell had sounded......

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Re: JB HiFi killed them?

At least Dick Smith was fairly quiet, and the staff generally pretty knowledgeable.

Knowledgeable? Hah. Not for more than 10 years. The people there generally are marketing folk who think a serial port is a place sailors go to eat breakfast.

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Re: JB HiFi killed them?

They never made the transition from hobbiest to high-street store, partly because they never threw off the legacy locations and commercial leases.

As a hobbyiest store, people would, as described above, go out of their way to shop at DS. Once they moved to selling commodity electronics, their shop locations were mostly non-commercial. The new private owners had a shot at fixing that (many years to late), but picking up good retail locations is a tough and long-term proposition.

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Re: JB HiFi killed them?

Glad to see that PC World in the UK isn't the only place that employs staff like that.

My ex-boss had an (admittedly weird) PC that only had SCSI on board (no IDE, and it was before SATA was around). His HDD died while he was doing some important work. Thankfully he had backups, but obviously needed the HDD to get the PC running. So, he drove down to the local PC World and was told they didn't stock SCSI HDDs as SCSI was a dead technology. We went up Tottenham Court Road in London (which was then a good place to go for tech) and had a new HDD within a few minutes.

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Re: JB HiFi killed them?

As with all such places, it depends on who you are lucky enough to get. I once went in to upgrade my DSL modem and the guy I got asked my present model and told me a firmware update was available for that model so I didn't need a new one.

I would have bought something else to say thanks, if only they carried anything in stock I actually wanted to buy.

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The main reason they seem to have died is a massive con----struction job on the part of their parent company according to the article pointed to by the Reg:

https://foragerfunds.com/bristlemouth/dick-smith-is-the-greatest-private-equity-heist-of-all-time/

It seems they only wanted them from Woolies to put them on the stock market and turn a 20 mill investment into a 520 mill payday...

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@ Mike Green

I'm sure you're right about the con job, but I can't help wondering who would have been stupid enough to pay that sort of price for DSE.

When it refloated I remember reading an opinion piece in the local paper, (NZ) saying something along the lines of "You'd need to have rocks in your head to pay that much".

I guess it's the old one born every minute thing.

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Meh

Good old days as a kid

A quick trip to Dick's for some component or electronic kit, a feed of (hot) chips from the store next door, and then back home to solder...

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why gift cards?

I mean, what economic service do they actually perform. These days, you can get bits of polymer denoting many quantities of currency that are accepted at any shop, don't have an expiry date, fits into a birthday card and are backed by the central bank. It's called cash!

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Re: why gift cards?

"I mean, what economic service do they actually perform."

Gift cards discounted to face value (e.g. 10% off Dick Smith gift cards at Coles recently) offer a discount to the purchaser, whilst offering the shop a chance they may never get redeemed.

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Re: why gift cards?

I can't recall what the global value of unredeemed gift cards per annum is, but I do recall being staggered by the number!

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Re: why gift cards?

Sorry. Should have been clearer there. I am very aware about what is in it for the shop. It is guaranteed revenue at some time and they are under no legal obligation to honour it and can exclude all manner of things. (Try buying an Xbox or iTunes card with a discounted gift card). Yes it might get discounted from time to time but you will get that much off if you ask for a discount or show any competitor's website or brochure. It just doesn't make logical sense for the consumer to bind their money in such a way.

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