back to article One more credit insurer abandons Maplin Electronics

Yet another major credit insurer has abandoned geek emporium Maplin Electronics. Euler Hermes – the biggest trade indemnifier in the tech sector – has entirely removed all lines of coverage, El Reg can reveal. The decision, enacted on Friday, will come as a fresh blow to private equity-owned Maplin, potentially heaping …

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  1. a cynic writes...

    Ok - no preorders it is then...

    ...and the January sale could be interesting.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They are full of it.

      Overpriced tat that is.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        WTF?

        Just a f**king minute

        They are a retailer. IE most of their business is 1 off stuff.

        Not through customer accounts.

        And they want 120 days to pay their suppliers.

        In the country with the 2nd worse business payments record in the EU (only Italy has a more relaxed attitude of companies paying other companies).

        BTW is that £12m+ number a profit or a loss IOW have they reduces losses or profits from last yr?

        1. Nik 2

          Re: Just a f**king minute

          The cash-flow exposure to Maplin is more to do with the amount of time that stuff sits on the shelves, rather than a delay in obtaining payment from customers.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They are full of it. overpriced tat?

        except Maplins are/were charging £359 for a Celestron nexstar 130 SLT (computerised telescope) - whilst in USA it is nearer $350 (natch, 1$=1£) a markup that we can live with etc VAT etc

        In EU, the same telescope was typically being sold north of €500, [one 'prime' location demanding €567 at present,] which (after some math) means that Maplin were charging £141 LESS than the hard core EU xmas market distortion.

        Their SLT has now gone up to £400, still a cool hundred euro saving, and I'm not sure if it is 'tat' but I'd say it's not that overpriced!

        you might be right about much of their other stuff!

        1. HmmmYes Silver badge

          Re: They are full of it. overpriced tat?

          You might be confusing incompetence with benevolence.

        2. Spacedinvader

          Re: They are full of it. overpriced tat?

          Like this (didn't even know you could get patch cable this short til I saw it when in the shop yesterday!)

          https://www.maplin.co.uk/p/maplin-cat6-utp-ethernet-patch-cable-025m-grey-a31uh

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: They are full of it. overpriced tat?

            " (didn't even know you could get patch cable this short til I saw it when in the shop yesterday!)"

            They have their uses (the cables , not maplin )

          2. defiler Silver badge

            Re: They are full of it. overpriced tat?

            Like this (didn't even know you could get patch cable this short til I saw it when in the shop yesterday!)

            Perfect for patching from switch to PoE injector. I'll grant you, that's a bit of a fringe case. I have a handful around the house from when I was self-employed and doing a lot of that, though.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: They are full of it. overpriced tat?

            "Like this (didn't even know you could get patch cable this short til I saw it when in the shop yesterday!)"

            Obviously you've never wired up a patch panel to a switch in a rack :-)

            (although I'm not sure why a retailer would be selling them)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: They are full of it. overpriced tat?

              Not for £7.49 anyway.

              At 74p it might be worth getting a bunch..

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: They are full of it. overpriced tat?

          "a markup that we can live with etc VAT etc"

          Yes, also worth noting that a standard 2 year warranty has a cost compared to a US 90 day warranty. That has to be factored into the end user prices too so the $=£ parity is probably about right, especially light of the £ devaluation since brexit.

      3. Mage Silver badge

        Re: They are full of it.

        "high cost base and low margin"

        Wut?

        There is a x2 to x10 markup of cables and components.

  2. Warm Braw Silver badge

    The third consecutive private-equity buyer of the business

    Surely there can be no correlation.

  3. msknight Silver badge

    Probably for nought but...

    What I'd like to see are electronics lessons. I'd dearly love to learn electronics properly and would travel for lessons... and quality supplies that I can trust, instead of my ham fisted soldering, and taking a punt on caps and resistors from fleabay... learning bits and pieces from youtube videos.

    I'm wondering how many people are out there, like me, who would love to get back to basics and the hands-on skills that my god father had... but I was too young to learn before he passed.

    1. Aaiieeee

      Re: Probably for nought but...

      What a great idea. They could have a couple of traveling engineers who do workshops at all the different stores - It has to be someone who knows what they are talking about, not a sales rep. A couple of hours with a tangable goal and key learning objectives. Not just "build this kit-product we sell". No hard selling please.

      Electronics is something I completely missed the boat on and and would love to be taught the basics

      1. msknight Silver badge

        Re: Probably for nought but...

        I have to find myself wondering how many stores already have competent engineers behind the counter. Judging by some of the casual conversations I've had in some stores, there is usually one that can read resistor banding without resorting to a sheet of paper.

        1. Chris 125

          Re: Probably for nought but...

          There often is, but they'll have usually been there a while.

          When I was a Maplin employee, working weekends whilst at Uni, we had mostly geeks and nerds in store. Most of us could tell our transistors apart, what type of capacitor someone had brought us to replace etc.

          Trouble is, that all took time - you'd be 20-25 minutes assembling a bag full of components that someone had dutifully copied down from a dog-eared old book on DIY audio projects or something, and that bag would be worth less than a fiver at the till. Oh, and then they'd want advice on how best to assemble it, what cable to use, and then rattle off a story about how they used to build short wave radios out of tin cans and rocks when they were in the trenches.

          We offered amazing customer service, but it was tough to see that make it into the till sometimes.

          This was not lost on me when I went to Maplin last week to get a few bits for a project for the cubs, and found loads of stuff not in stock. Things we used to have loads of in my store, like 6V buzzers or LEDs or bulb holders. Instead they've got loads of random Smart Home stuff, really expensive batteries, CCTV etc... .exactly what you'd get off Amazon instead.

          1. Stuart Halliday

            Re: Probably for nought but...

            100% on the mark.

            Maplin would shout down on us that customers come first always.

            But managers weren't prepared to allow staff to chat to customers wanting small components or free advice.

            Which was surprisingly two-faced as they also told us DIY customers were key customers for other customers.

            As the technology level of most customers was appallingly, even dangerously bad. They relied on their knowledgeable friends to guide them.

            But if someone even sniffed that they may want to buy a £400 CCTV system, there was no problem.

            I give the company 4 years...

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Probably for nought but...

              "I give the company 4 years..."

              That long? Wow, you must be a glass half full kinda guy :-)

        2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Probably for nought but...

          I agree - I occasionally shop at Maplins, and have found that there is at least one employee in the store who knows their anode from their cathode, and who is called PDQ if the sales guy doesn't know the answer (and he will admit that he doesn't know).

          1. msknight Silver badge

            Re: Probably for nought but...

            I've contacted Sussex University, but I fear their courses will be above my budget. I'll reserve judgement until I hear back.

            I've checked out the Hacker shops, and there is one in Brighton, but no courses. I've got their e-mails and will send an e-mail tonight.

            I've also checked out the Repair Cafes. Horsham, East Grinstead and Brighton are all doable, but they don't cater for courses either... but I'll drop one or two of them a line and see if they know someone who's willing to teach in an evening. The trick here is that the things I'm going to need to repair, are going to need spare parts.. and it won't be a thing that can be sorted in one session, if you know what I mean.

            But... at least I have some avenues to follow now. Thanks folks!

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

              Re: Probably for nought but...

              Its not Maplins fault . As Chris123 says up there. It used to be all about electronics and hobbyists and that was tough to make money on. Nowadays even less people will solder anything - they'll just slot cards into motherboards. So Maplin had to morph into that tat bazzarre and keep a few resistors and caps as a token effort.

              1. msknight Silver badge

                Re: Probably for nought but...

                I disagree. There is a need for that supply. The components could easily go on-line. (As could electronics courses, to be honest.) Maplin could have a component section but optimise postage.

                One of the reasons I don't buy as much as I would from the current component suppliers is the ridiculous postage they are demanding for small orders. I'm sure that this could be brought down easily because, as a hobyist, I can easily wait a few extra days for a package of a few bits and pieces. It would save the store fronts, and keep UK hobyists ticking over without costing Maplin so much of a small fortune. - I mean, I'm having to wait for deliveries from China right now, for crying out loud.

                They could also do an e-mail query service instead of tying up someone in-store, at point of sale, it can be done on an e-mail exchange basis on an as-and-when, to make the best use of time.

                One of the decisions which drove me absolutely bonkers was the A55KJ solder station. (which appears to have been rebranded, yet again.) Replacement bits can only be bought in a pack of three mixed bits. A19KK Wasted money for bits I'll never use. In fact, looking at the current bits on there, none of them are even screwdriver let alone chamfered. Totally bonkers decision. Even trying to get official Hakko bits was impossible because Hakko told me that they only sell bits for genuine Hakko stations... so I couldn't work out which of their station bits fitted this one.

                End game... I went to Antex and bought one of their stations instead.

                Maplin management have a number of things to answer for, in my personal opinion.

                1. Mage Silver badge

                  Re: Probably for nought but...

                  Online?

                  Their website used to be bad, now atrocious.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Probably for nought but...

        I am a sales advisor for Maplin and I build guitar pedals in my spare time , so I could teach you a thing or two but then, being a sales advisor, I don’t know what I’m talking about do I ;p funny how my circuits always work somehow, must just be luck

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probably for nought but...

      Check your local college's adult education brochure around August each year..

      1. FensMan

        Re: Probably for nought but...

        If you have a local Hackspace you might find they run an introduction to electronics course, for free or for a nominal donation. In Oxford, we have Meetups on introduction to electronics, such as:

        https://www.meetup.com/Oxford-Hackspace/events/245838757/

        (And if you have a local Hackspace which doesn't run such a course, you might be able to encourage someone to start a course.)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probably for nought but...

      Maplin did look at this. But with the majority of Staff untrained in technology (paid at minimum wage) let alone any repair skills and very limited floor space. Forget it.

    4. Mike Dimmick

      Re: Probably for nought but...

      Maplin went downhill after being bought by Saltire group, who owned Altai, one of Maplin's suppliers, back in 1994. My Saturday job changed from trying to help the hobbyists with their list of components to trying to push prebuilt electronics, e.g. the in-car entertainment speakers and amplifiers, on which the company made more margin. Sales not being my forté, I ended up more frequently booking in and counting stock, and only helping out on the tills when the queues reached four or five deep.

      Admittedly, the most complicated circuit many customers wanted was a flashing LED and the correct resistor to limit the current from a 12V battery - otherwise known as a fake car alarm.

    5. MrBanana

      Re: Probably for nought but...

      Have a look out for a repair cafe in your area. My local one is staffed by volunteers who have skills in diagnosing and fixing electrical items. No formal lessons, but you can learn a lot from the old hands who have previously worked in the electronics industry. We're crying out for young 'uns who want to learn how to fix things rather than throw them away.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will be a big shame if Maplin close. I don't use them often, but when I need them they usually have the plug or adapter that I need quickly.

    Once we are left with an Amazon monopoly we will all be worse off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Same here, it's Amazon and Ebay all the way down to the bottom.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        "Amazon and Ebay all the way down"

        The thing is though both of those two are not single organisations - they are a collection of sellers all competing with each other and all getting reviews and feedback from every sale , and in addition to normal selling laws have to behave themselves more and follow extra rules that their hosts have added on.

        A pretty good system in theory. I've got to admit, its where I do most of my shopping. Except bread and beer. The high street can go **** itself . Sorry Maplin , you were one of the good ones back in the day , but your number is up.

    2. SniperPenguin

      "Will be a big shame if Maplin close. I don't use them often, but when I forget to order what I need from Amazon they usually have the plug or adapter that I need quickly."

      Fixed That For You.

      It amazes me the number of people who want places to stay open, but dont actually use them on a regular basis. Dont get me wrong, a wander around Maplins a few days ago was a "Tat-Fest" but they have sections on satellite installations, Home Wi-Fi, Computing Kits (Ardinio, Pi etc) that felt like add-ons rather than stuff they could be focusing on to fill a niche.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't Panic, All is Not Lost

      There are other supplies, such as CPC and RS Components, and then the Ham Radio suppliers for RF connectors. Yes they are parcel based, but so are Amazon and Ebay

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: Don't Panic, All is Not Lost

        CPC have an Argos style shop in Preston. I bought my first Pi from them a few years ago.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't Panic, All is Not Lost

          Surprised people still use eBay. Amazon prime all the way now. eBay needs to be improved, eg next day delivery.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Don't Panic, All is Not Lost

            "Amazon prime all the way now" ....... not for me. I despise every gouging step of the Amazon checkout process.

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Don't Panic, All is Not Lost

              " I despise every gouging step of the Amazon checkout process."

              You must be doing it wrong. Let me guess: You're such a privacy freak you empty all cookies , disable all scripts , flash and other runtimes , insist amazon render you a text only browser page , and of course you never put any bank details online so you use their popular "post a cheque" payment method?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Don't Panic, All is Not Lost

                "You must be doing it wrong" .... not at all. They have all of those details. They only think I havn't turned on is one click check out, for very good reason.

                The thing I despise is that some of the stuff is Amazon some from other vendors but fulfilled by Amazon and some fulfilled directly by the vendors. Some stuff gets free delivery other stuff free delivery if the total amount is enough which doesn't include half the stuff. So when you hit checkout the bill is inflated with multiple extra delivery charges that unlike eBay aren't explicit at the time you add them to your basket. And at the checkout screen they don't give you a button or link to go back and amend your purchases to get a better deal (why would they!). Instead you need to type in the amazon.com URL and from there go to your basket to update it, only to find that when you go back to checkout the new combination of vendors doesn't qualify either. I "might" consider using Prime if it applied to everything on their site, but it doesn't.

                1. David Nash Silver badge

                  Re: Don't Panic, All is Not Lost

                  " extra delivery charges that unlike eBay aren't explicit at the time you add them to your basket."

                  They always say "fulfilled by Amazon" (which means Amazon delivery charges) or "Free Delivery" if they offer it. Otherwise just assume you pay. I usually won't choose suppliers who don't offer either of these.

                  "And at the checkout screen they don't give you a button or link to go back and amend your purchases to get a better deal (why would they!). Instead you need to type in the amazon.com URL and from there go to your basket to update it"

                  I thought you could click the Amazon home page logo at the top of the screen. Or at least just use "back" to a previous page.

        2. jabuzz

          Re: Don't Panic, All is Not Lost

          RS have a number of stores around that you can pop into. There is one in Glasgow that is certainly still there, and one in Team Valley for those Newcastle based. Got to be others too. I personally gave up on Maplin years ago because they stopped selling components. Fortunately this was just the time that the web was coming on line and Farnell/RS started take web orders from Joe Blogs who was not a company and was willing to make a minimum order or pay postage.

          These days Maplin is Tandy mark 2 and we all know how well that worked out for Tandy...

          1. Simon Harris Silver badge

            Re: Don't Panic, All is Not Lost

            "RS have a number of stores around that you can pop into. There is one in Glasgow that is certainly still there, and one in Team Valley for those Newcastle based. Got to be others too."

            16 according to RS...

            https://uk.rs-online.com/web/generalDisplay.html?id=services/branch-network

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Don't Panic, All is Not Lost

            "RS have a number of stores...one in Team Valley for those Newcastle based."

            Do they take walk in retail customers these days? Last time I went there, quite some years ago, it was basically just a trade counter and weren't interested in selling me anything without a "proper" business account.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Shop story

      We'd see so much counterfeit goods it beggars belief.

      People who through no fault of their own just think all shops are selling legal goods.

      That phone charger in Maplin for £18 can't compete against the £5 forgery.

      The number of times I'd save a customer's life!

      Made getting minimum wage almost worth it.

    5. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Amazon also have somehow convinced a lot of people to pay for Prime, and yet delivery dates certainly aren't the next day that was originally promised.

      If you factored Prime into the cost of your purchases, the stuff you buy from Amazon is probably as expensive as Maplins.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Dont get me started on Prime

        Amazon seem to push Prime to the point of distraction, found it very difficult to get round it, so dumped the account, just use them as a search engine now, then go direct.

        Maplin do sell components, but not the ones I wanted, so made up an order for over 5quid, CPC sent for free.

      2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        That's a different Amazon experience than I have - Prime products almost always arrive the next day, and it's usually cheaper than Maplin.

        There's starting to be a lot more tat on Amazon, though, and it's sometimes difficult to find the decent products.

        1. rmason Silver badge

          Next day/Prime

          My experience mirrors @Binky...

          If the prime eligible item is in stock, we get it next day, or sometimes the day after if we order late at night.

          We even have items turning up during the day on sunday that were ordered either Fri or Sat.

          Prime is excellent.

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