back to article RIP... almost: Brit high street gadget shack Maplin Electronics

Maplin has slipped into administration after PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) failed to find a buyer for the hard-pressed gadget emporium. “I can confirm this morning that it has not been possible to secure a solvent sale of the business and as a result we now have no alternative but to enter administration,” said Maplin CEO …

  1. djstardust Silver badge

    Well at least

    If there's a fire sale the prices might come down to the same as everyone else's.

    1 - Actual electronics shoved in to a corner and no staff to help with anything technical (certainly in my experience anyway)

    2 - Shelves filled with cheap Chinese tat no-one wants .... not even at Xmas

    3 - Very expensive smart home and IOT guff no-one wants

    4 - Massively marked up cables and connectors

    5 - last year's technology priced higher than the current model

    Management are fully to blame for this. The business needed to be reformed to compete with eBay, Amazon and the likes of CPC Farnell but they sat there with high staff and store leasing costs until it finally caught up with them.

    Sad but not unexpected in the slightest.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Well at least

      Utterly clueless MBA types - I can get 90% of what I want easier and faster from Amazon or other online outlets.

      The only way for shops to survive is to be a) very local b) a positive customer experience/ advice

      Which means investing in product and staff - if they don't do either they are screwed.

      If they don't make their stores "sticky" in a good way for consumers we will vote with our mice.

      See also Tat R Us (gone today) & Homebase (going, going). Hideous stores - massive checkout queues, ignorant staff standing around chatting.

      I wont deny the execution is hard - but none of these guys even seem to have identified the problem.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Well at least

        "I can get 90% of what I want easier and faster from Amazon or other online outlets."

        Maybe 90% is pitching it a bit high and that applies to not only stuff from Maplins but also stuff from B&Q and other suppliers.

        The problem has always been working out which. If I order from Amazon I can get it next day but the downside is that the earliest I can only get it is next day. If I could get it locally I could get it today. But the times when I've trailed 10 miles each way to the other side of town so I can get it today and then returned to order online add up to an enormous waste of time.

        The downside of buying by order (online or otherwise) is that you have to rely on promises of availability. I've just ordered as small item online which the vendor's website describes as "available"; everyone else claims it's no longer made and they have no stock so maybe that vendor had some old stock. They sent an email saying it would be in their warehouse in a week and that they'd then despatch it. I now suspect that in a week they'll return my money and say it was unobtainable. At least if a local shop has something in stock you're not relying on empty promises, no matter how well meant.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well at least

          "At least if a local shop has something in stock you're not relying on empty promises, [...]"

          With Maplin it was too often an item someone had returned that was damaged if you looked closely - and the shop had just put it back on display.

          1. rickykemp

            Re: Well at least

            @AC pretty much every item that wasnt a dongle or a cable I got from them in the last year was broke. The best was an ATX power supply that had every 24pin ATX connector snapped off in the box.

          2. Wayland Bronze badge

            Re: Well at least

            In Colchester we have a Maplin and the home grown Rapid Electronics. Rapid is now what Maplin once was at it's best. Rapid are both Trade and Hobby with a great shop and massive warehouse.

            1. rototype

              Re: Well at least

              Anyone else tried RS recently, good prices (I remember they used to be horribly overpriced, or so I thought at the time) and good delivery, as well as 'Trade Counters' which can act as 'Click & Collect' or just pop in if they've got what you need. Or there's CPC/Farnell - similar but don't remember seeing anything about trade counters with them.

              Maplin have been going down the tubes for a long time, ever since some Eejit put the beancounters in complete charge of the company, ditching any product if there's a momentary dip in sales. A story I remember from a good few years ago (when the staff actually knew what they were doing) was that the D25 plugs weren't selling as well as the D25 sockets so they were discontinued, 3 months later they discontinued the D25 sockets as well as no-one was buying them there since they coundn't get the mating plug!

        2. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Well at least

          "If I order from Amazon I can get it next day but the downside is that the earliest I can only get it is next day. If I could get it locally I could get it today"

          Amazon Prime Now.

          Literally demonstrated that you could buy a Corsair ATX PSU plus a load of other computer-related bits with TWO HOUR delivery.

          Sure, out in the sticks, you don't have it. But then you're probably miles from a Maplins anyway. But if you're in a Prime Now area, there is almost no point in going near a retail store for... well... most stuff really.

          1. defiler Silver badge

            Re: Well at least

            Amazon Prime Now.

            I tried to buy coffee off Amazon today because I'm working from home due to the weather, and they won't deliver until Friday!! Bloody savages.

            It's only a bit of snow...

            1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

              "I tried to buy coffee off Amazon" - Even if they did deliver today I'm sure it would be...

              ... cold.

            2. JimboSmith Silver badge

              Re: Well at least

              I tried to buy coffee off Amazon today because I'm working from home due to the weather, and they won't deliver until Friday!! Bloody savages.

              It's only a bit of snow...

              Weirdly amazon insisted that they couldn't deliver before Thursday for the order I placed on Monday. So much for the One Day Prime delivery I thought. Then I looked at the time and it was after 6pm so it's maybe down to the weather. This morning I had an email telling me it was out for delivery and the bloke was at my door 10 mins later despite the blizzard. About to order something else and I hope they're still delivering as fast.

              1. Cynical Pie

                Re: Well at least

                With Amazon though their delivery estimates usually add a day or two.

                You pre-order albums and they often arrive before the release date. Similarly even when ordering some cheap tat for the kid that's coming from China its the exception that arrives on or after the estimated delivery date. If anything it usually arrives well before.

                I suspect its an element of excellent stock control (for Amazon held stuff), tight delivery requirements for partners and the odd little white lie built into the software - we will tell them 5 days when we actually reckon it'll only take 3

            3. MrZoolook

              Re: Well at least

              I'm putting this comment on the same pedastool as "Guess she don't like the cornbread either" in Aliens.

              A masterstroke in contextual humour.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well at least

            Amazon Prime Now....Sure, out in the sticks, you don't have it. But then you're probably miles from a Maplins anyway.

            Maplin have over 200 stores, Prime Now is currently focused on nine large and fairly compact cities, great for that lucky subset of city-dwelling troglodytes.

            By numbers, I'm guessing that 80% of the population have had some reasonable access to Maplin, but only about 40% of the population can get Prime Now.

          3. Chloe Cresswell

            Re: Well at least

            No, you're much more likely to have a maplins "near", then prime now for most of the country.

            There's only what, 9 prime now areas?

            Closest to me are 100 miles away.

            Maplins?

            1.2 miles, 28 miles, 35 miles and 45 miles.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Prime Now

            It's coming. Like it or not.

          5. BongoJoe

            Re: Well at least

            Sure, out in the sticks, you don't have it. But then you're probably miles from a Maplins anyway. But if you're in a Prime Now area, there is almost no point in going near a retail store for... well... most stuff really.

            When we were living in our motorhome we ended up in a Prime Now area.

            This was our first order

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well at least

          "I order from Amazon I can get it next day but the downside is that the earliest I can only get it is next day. "

          Amazon can deliver same day - via Prime Now.

          1. Ivan Headache

            Re: Well at least

            "Amazon can deliver same day - via Prime Now."

            Along with the associated increase in traffic and pollution.

            1. Chloe Cresswell

              Re: Well at least

              And if you're in one of the (iirc) 9 areas they offer prime now?

            2. Smooth Newt
              Meh

              Re: Well at least

              "Amazon can deliver same day - via Prime Now."

              Along with the associated increase in traffic and pollution.

              Why would it cause more pollution if the van came today instead of tomorrow? The backone delivery network behind it also runs whether it has to handle a million parcels or a million and one. Even comparing Amazon with going to Maplin and buying some piece of tat, in my experience most Maplins are in our-of-townish retail parks so each an every customer has to drive there anyway.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Well at least

                "Why would it cause more pollution if the van came today instead of tomorrow?"

                Isn't that obvious? It doesn't matter what day it is it's an extra van journey that doesn't need to be made. It's an extra van clogging up an already busy street full of vans delivering groceries, parcels from ebay, parcels from john lewis, parcels from QVC and all those other 'shopping channels', parcels from the post office and the umpteen other things that are too big to go in the postman's sack. Each drop-off means more stop-start diesel fumes, more miles to drive, more brake dust, more speed from the driver in order to get the drops done in time.

                As for Maplins being 'out-of-townish', I can walk to three from my house in under 30 minutes - all in shopping streets.

                The world is being over-run with white vans because of internet shopping (and oversized SUVs).

              2. Pseudonymous Clown Art

                Re: Well at least

                Surely theres a net loss in pollution given the hard knock the mobile DJ industry will have as a knock effect of Maplin going bust?

            3. A____B

              Re: Well at least

              But heaven help you if the item doesn't work.

              Amazon is on my 'back of the queue list' and I won't buy from them unless I really have to [not found a need in nearly 2 years now].

              Bought a phone from Amazon - allegedly UK spec Huawei. ( months later it failed. Amazon won't replace it (says it's not our problem - although we advertised it and we took your money, it was a 3rd party), the 3rd party has vanished (and Amazon has less interest in finding them or chasing them up than a politician has in giving a truthful straight answer), Huawei claim it's not a UK phone and won't honour the warranty, the credit card company say talk to Amazon, we won't refund you....

              So for the sake of a few pounds, Amazon's not only lost a customer but now has one who'll try to dissuade family and friends from using them. If they devoted a fraction of the effort they spent on tax dodging to providing a service they'd have two lots of Christmas shopping and probably a monthly Prim income from me.

              Back on topic - comparing Maplins and PC World (who are almost next to each other where I live) is interesting. As mentioned by someone else the Maplins staff do at least engage with you (often too much) whereas PC World staff hide; I wanted to buy a vacuum cleaner recently and there were no staff in sight apart from a chap standing by the door. I asked if he could fetch me a cleaner so I could buy it and got a "not my job! you need a salesperson" reply. Needless to say they lost a sale.

              1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

                Re: Well at least

                I've had few issues with Amazon, but I'd have to say I think their customer service is slipping. They've moved beyond trying to do everything, and have dropped some of their range, but at the same time as letting in all manner of third parties of various repute. Prices have gone up too, and it's not unusual to find a 'next day' Prime delivery that isn't.

                For the lower end stuff ebay is now a better option.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Well at least

                  "and it's not unusual to find a 'next day' Prime delivery that isn't."

                  I don't have Prime and usually go for the "free" delivery. That used to take at least a week. The last few times it has been delivered the next day - even on a Sunday.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Well at least

                When Amazon pull that crap... do what I did... I have access to 2 amazon accounts, my own and one I share with my mum (I have POA over her affairs).

                Bought a dashcam, it failed after 4-5 months, seller caused all sorts of issues... wanted it shipped to china for repair/replacement... cost of shipping was ridiculous and they refused to pay. Offered £10 to repair it locally. Amazon refused to help as 3rd party seller... suggested I do a chargeback... except it was purchased with a gift card. Told Amazon we'd do a chargeback on the giftcard then which was more than the dashcam... They disputed the charge back and bank refunded, then debited the money again.

                So instead of getting pissed of and losing money... Bought another dashcam.. a better model.. using Prime only seller... When it arrived... 'oh dear me' Amazon appear to have sent the wrong one... and not only that it's faulty... Better return it for a refund... postage paid for by amazon.

                End result... I've had a better dashcam for the last 18 months and the broken one was returned to amazon.

                My motto is simple.. if they fuck with me... fuck em right back.

                As for Maplins... they went from a decent place to get those little bits and bobs you needed quickly.. like some wiring, PCB, and LED's to make up a custom OBDI reader for an old sports car... to purveyors of poundland style tat that was sold for £10 a time instead.

                They are the victims of their own complacency and ineptitude... and whilst I feel for anyone who gets made redundant without any notice... I cannot feel sorry for the morons who made it possible.

                1. chas49

                  Re: Well at least

                  So you've basically defrauded a different seller? Nice attitude. I see why you posted as AC.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Well at least

                    No it was Amazon I did it too... they refused to refund me for faulty gear, and then told me to do a charge back.. which I did... and they then disputed the charge back and got the funds retaken from my account.

                    So Amazon were directly responsible for my loss by refusing to adhere to the basic statutory consumer rights... Take your pick if it's the sale and supply of goods act or any other of the consumer rights acts that apply.

                    AC because I'm not stupid.. If Amazon behaved better, so would I. :)

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Along with the associated increase in traffic and pollution.

              Yeah because one van doing a multi-drop is worse than many individual vehicles driving into town and sitting in queues. Dickhead.

              1. Ivan Headache

                Re: Along with the associated increase in traffic and pollution.

                Thanks for the namecall. Just how many delivery vans visit your street each day?

                I promise you It's not the same one doing every delivery.

                I live in a small street of about 100 houses. There's a delivery van approximately every 30 minutes - even after dark.

                Who's the dickhead?

                1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

                  Re: Along with the associated increase in traffic and pollution.

                  How many cars visit the high street or retail park every day?

                  Every parcel in a van means one less journey out the door, the majority of which will be in a car poorly warmed up and spewing pollution. At least the vans will be running warm.

                  I bet there is a net drop in pollution even if the vans are a little less good at emissions.

            5. Blitheringeejit
              Mushroom

              Re: Well at least

              ..plus the associated decrease in corporation tax revenues, making it harder for the state to pay for decent snow clearance and gritting capability.

              Proud to be in the minority of upvoters.

          2. tiggity Silver badge

            Re: Well at least

            @AC

            As LEE D said, Prime Now only in some big urban areas, not available in the arse end of nowhere FSVO nowhere that include quite major towns / cities

          3. lybad

            Re: Well at least

            Prime Now? Where I live, next day delivery is usually 2 days.

            Or delivery to a locker at work, which is next day, but up to 10pm, when I usually leave work before 5pm.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Well at least

              "Or delivery to a locker at work"

              Sounds like you work at Morrisons. I'd be worried about them too.

          4. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: Well at least

            Amazon can deliver same day - via Prime Now.

            Not where I live. Anybody know what percentage of the population is covered?

        4. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Well at least

          "f I order from Amazon I can get it next day but the downside is that the earliest I can only get it is next day. If I could get it locally I could get it today. "

          It doesn't help when you do look online, find the item is supposedly in stock but then it's nowhere to be found in-store.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well at least

            "It doesn't help when you do look online, find the item is supposedly in stock but then it's nowhere to be found in-store."

            Had that with Tesco this week. Their online price comparison for a branded tub of parmesan cheese quoted £1.59 against Sainsbury and Waitrose at £2.20.

            We have a large 24hour Tesco - I went in and they had never heard of the product.

            Reminds me of the old joke about two shops having a price war over bacon. As soon as one advertised a lower price the other undercut it. Finally one shopkeeper went across the road and asked how they could have such a low price - "We don't sell bacon".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: See also Tat R Us (gone today) &

        I know someone who does toy sales into retailers. They remarked a few months ago that in fact TRU isn't that badly off as toy retailers go; but that the US parent is in /much/ bigger trouble, and has been siphoning as much money as they can out of the UK part and then over to the US. If I understood correctly, it's this what really did for them [a] as regards their other troubles - credit insurance or whatever. I'd just advanced the "internet competition" argument for TRU's problems, and was then corrected.

        [a] (or was doing for them, at the time I heard).

        Of course, I may have got the wrong end of the stick somehow. It'd be interesting to see if any real details eventually surface. It's not quite clear how to me the money-extraction theory works with the private equity ownership.

        1. Wayland Bronze badge

          Re: See also Tat R Us (gone today) &

          Yes American companies will suck money from their British subsidiary to keep the home fires burning. Block Buster had this.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: See also Tat R Us (gone today) &

            Well, they are only doing what comes naturally to Americans.

            The perceived benefit of overseas subsidiaries has always been an out-of-tax-range money-pot waiting to be of use to the parent when the need arises.

            Our sceptred isle's contribution to making America great again.

            As more and more specialist businesses are run by money-market firms, the expertise is driven out of the equation smartly followed by the overpaid executives who move on to the next killing field as the losses mount.

            'It's only money' is the mantra of today. Grab your severance pack and run.

        2. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

          Re: See also Tat R Us (gone today) &

          Currys PC World must be fucking shitting themselves.

        3. Grouchy Bloke

          Re: See also Tat R Us (gone today) &

          TRU

          Interesting analysis...

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JYUo9WKkao

        4. paulc

          Re: See also Tat R Us (gone today) &

          but that the US parent is in /much/ bigger trouble, and has been siphoning as much money as they can out of the UK part and then over to the US.

          oh yes over half a Billion pounds 'written off' in a loan to a shell company based in a tax haven...

          https://www.ftadviser.com/pensions/2017/12/19/toys-r-us-pension-trustees-kept-entirely-in-the-dark/

          In letters sent to the scheme trustees and to The Pensions Regulator (TPR), Mr Field accused the firm of waiving a sum of £584.5m in loans owed to it by a firm in the British Virgin Islands in the year ending January 2017, when it made a pre-tax loss of £673.3m.

          The firm had stated in its accounts this was part of a "group reorganisation".

      3. Dr Who

        Re: Well at least

        One dreads to think what "sticky" in a bad way might be. Ann Summers perhaps?

      4. caffeine addict Silver badge

        Re: Well at least

        See also Tat R Us (gone today) & Homebase (going, going). Hideous stores - massive checkout queues, ignorant staff standing around chatting.

        Homebase belongs to Bunnings now. Unless there's news I've not heard it's not at any imminent risk...

        1. smudge Silver badge

          Re: Well at least

          Homebase belongs to Bunnings now. Unless there's news I've not heard it's not at any imminent risk...

          https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/bunnings-uk-woes-deepen-with-1-billion-writedown-20180205-p4yze8.html

          "Retail giant Wesfarmers could abort its troubled invasion of the British Isles as soon as June after admitting it made serious mistakes when trying to transplant the successful Bunnings model to the northern hemisphere...."

          1. Pseudonymous Clown Art

            Re: Well at least

            Yes I had a wander around one, prices are amazing...but I don't need a 24-can beer cooler, shark cage and spearfishing gear...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well at least

          There is indeed news you've evidently not heard:

          http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-5352979/Up-40-stores-shut-following-poor-trading-results.html

          Homebase has been a basket case for years. Dingy, ramshackle, poorly lit stores full of ancient stock, mostly over-priced, poor customer service, and lacking real scale or a sense of market positioning. Lord knows what was going through Bunning's management's heads - presumably they'd never been here, believed the consultant's powerpoint lies about the profitable growth opportunity, didn't know what a shite outfit Homebase was, and fell in love with the idea of paid-for trips to London. Imagine how horrified they must have been when they realised they'd spend over a third of a billion quid on a shit-palace, and then had to take a further writedown of half a billion quid.

          I'm sure there's a few busy stores, all the ones I know of you're more likely to bump into tumbleweed than another customer, and even with the store closures the new owners have a dog eared brand, 10-30 less stores to cover the overheads, and they're fighting an uphill battle on most high value products against internet retailers, for tools and the like there's Toolstation and Screwfix, and on the low margin heavyweight stuff they are uncompetitive against builder's merchants and "heavy grade" DIY sheds like WIckes.

          1. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: Well at least Homebase

            The best Homebase was for me in Kensington where they had staff who knew what they were selling and were enthusiastic about it but not pushy. That and the outside was done with beautiful carved hieroglyphics and Egyptian columns which looked fantastic. Very sadly it was sold for luxury housing and demolished.

            Homebase Kensington

            1. MrZoolook

              Re: Well at least Homebase

              The only Homebase I heard of, where cuntstomers expected to go in with a shopping list, give that list to staff, and go sit in the foyer while somone else did their shopping.

              Just as well I never worked there.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well at least

            Everything you've written applies to Wickes too. They'll surely be gone soon.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well at least

            I haven't been near a Homebase store in over fifteen years, My doctor advised me to avoid people and places with a death wish.

            My last visit to Maplin's a year ago, was to buy a iPod (obsolete) cable. I baulked at the asking price of £12.99 and stormed out of the empty store and into Best Buy opposite to catch one for £0.99.

            I remarked on the difference to the cashier who replied that they were getting a lot of custom from Maplin's geeks.

        3. Geoff332

          Re: Well at least

          Bunnings had no clue what they were doing - they put their own managers in change of Homebase and they completely botched it. They've put new management in charge of Homebase with a few months to save themselves. It's already hurt the Aussie parent pretty badly too.

          https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/05/botched-takeover-threatens-homebase-bunnings-jobs

          https://www.verdict.co.uk/wesfarmers-uk-strategy-looks-confused-homebase-sales-crash/

        4. This post has been deleted by its author

      5. BongoJoe

        Re: Well at least

        Utterly clueless MBA types - I can get 90% of what I want easier and faster from Amazon or other online outlets.

        The only way for shops to survive is to be a) very local b) a positive customer experience/ advice

        Which means investing in product and staff - if they don't do either they are screwed.

        If they don't make their stores "sticky" in a good way for consumers we will vote with our mice

        They needed to the equivalent to the Four Candles hardware shop where you'd go in for a handful of diodes and a bagful of capacitors. In which the staff would stand and chat about dies, washers, taps to the punters who would lean on the long counter. There would always be a number of local tradesmen there coming in and the place would always be a-buzz.

        I last went into a Maplins in a retail park outside of Durham and all I wanted was a sine-wave inverter for the motorhome, they had similar and cheaper (quality) but dear (price) but not as specified (not so sine, sine-wave wise).

        The time prior to that was venturing into a branch in Kingston Up Thames, of all places. It was tucked down the back of an arcade somewhere. The place looked dusty, as in unused rather than interesting, no-one came to help and I couldn't find the simple tool that I needed.

        My father, in his boffinary days, would order from them via catalogue and that worked. That is, when he couldn't find anything else in the back of ETI for cheaper.

        I never understood what Maplins were actually for. Were they a high-tech geek toy-shop that was more or less ran like an Argos (i.e. ask no questions) or were they a component place?

      6. DebitShield

        Re: Well at least

        Richer Sounds is a good example of how a high street store can survive - Excellent prices, unbeatable guarantees (when compared to other retailers), friendly but very technical customer service, good website.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Well at least

      > 4 - Massively marked up cables and connectors

      Except for the one you need...

      And you forgot

      > 6 - hardware in a locked case and no one willing/permitted to sell it to you

      1. King Jack
        Trollface

        > 4 - Massively marked up cables and connectors

        Too true. Went in for a USB cable. Balked at the price, went into PC World bought the cable and got a free scanner for less. Who knew that scenario was possible? Glad to see them go.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Go

          Re: > 4 - Massively marked up cables and connectors

          >went into PC World bought the cable

          Did you buy the extended warranty for the cable, available at a very reasonable £39.99 for 3 years extra guarantee and peace of mind ?

    3. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Well at least

      > 4 - Massively marked up cables and connectors

      Except for the one you need...

      > 5 - last year's technology priced higher than the current model

      "Last year's tech" no longer available, even if you need it. The local Best Buy only has wireless mice, and I don't need wireless for a PC that's 6 inches away, and I'm not messing about with batteries/charging. Also, no wired ethernet cards. Again, I'm not using wireless for a router that's 12 inches from my PC.

      And you forgot

      > 6 - hardware in a locked case and no one willing/permitted to sell it to you

      I ran into this when I had a disk-space emergency and went to Best Buy for an SSD. There was a case of them and I could not get any of the staff to open it and sell me one, so I came back home and bought it on NewEgg.

      And Best Buy wonders why their parking lot is half empty these days. I remember when you had to fight for a parking space.

      I'm using Best Buy as an example, as I can cite immediate examples, but this applies to all the local retail.

      1. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: Well at least

        " I don't need wireless for a PC that's 6 inches away, and I'm not messing about with batteries/charging"

        Yeah I agree, having to change the batteries in my mouse once every 18 months is such a pain...

        1. ChrisBedford

          Re: Well at least

          Yeah I agree, having to change the batteries in my mouse once every 18 months is such a pain...

          Yup, it's also such a nuisance not having a wire getting caught under the edge of the monitor stand, getting in the way of my coffee cup, or dragging papers around the desk.

        2. Steve B

          Re: Well at least

          Maybe the batteries last but why clog the spectrum? I used to have arguments like that with Novell, Microsoft and Cisco designers many years ago. Although it looks like there is plenty of "network space" available, there isn't if you clog it with rubbish. Every little bit counts.

        3. Bond007

          Re: Well at least

          Yeah, these days I need a special dog to fetch my remote for me.... getting up out of the chair now and again is just too much strain on my precious muscles.......

      2. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: Well at least

        You can get wired USB optical mice from a pound store these days.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well at least

      well, at least, the management (who are) fully aware of that, have already made sure their future's secure. Or should it be the first case even, when the management goes down with the ship, rather than departing in an inconspicuous life boat? Departing? HAVING DEPARTED, more like? :/

    5. ChrisC

      Re: Well at least

      Count me in as another member of the "mixed feelings brigade" - almost certainly still got my old battered copy of the catalogue, that acted as my IC reference manual throughout my school electronics lessons, tucked away in the loft somewhere, and there's plenty of other stuff dotted around the house (some still in everyday use like the CCTV system) which came from Maplins.

      In the good old days when their only real competition was Tandy/Radio Shack, they were genuinely a decent retailer, and even as they started their transformation into a seller of cheap (to make, though alas not to buy) tat with all the good stuff pushed ever further off to the far flung depths of the store, you could still get some decent stuff at decent prices if you were just prepared to wait a while - the aforementioned CCTV system was on offer for a price entirely comparable with the best we could find online, making it a no-brainer to buy it off the shelf from our local store rather than some unknown online store, and I've picked up a few hard drives over the years which were also comparable in price (certainly by the time you took into account how much next day delivery would have added to the online price - when you *need* a new drive ASAP, you don't want to be waiting best part of a week for standard delivery...).

      However, the last time I recall needing to buy something (replacement SLA battery for the house alarm system) where they came first to mind as a likely supplier, I took one look at the price listed on their website and thought "you have GOT to be kidding me!". Given it wasn't an urgent replacement I was then quite willing to get it online, but as I was searching for other suppliers, up popped Screwfix. Never crossed my mind they might sell batteries (at least not this type), but sure enough it was exactly what I was after, and at a price which was entirely reasonable, so half an hour later I was back home with the new battery... So if a retailer like Screwfix can keep their heads above water offering products at decept prices whilst operating physical stores of comparable sizes and locations to the out of town Maplins, why couldn't Maplins do it themselves?

      1. paulf Silver badge

        Re: Well at least

        I'm sad to see them go (and never happy to see people lose their jobs) but not surprised - like most other commentards here. 10-15 years ago I used to visit their stores and just browse at all the stuff I could get hooked into a project. Their cables covered every possibility I needed and were reasonably priced too (I'm talking 10m optical and phono cables among other adaptors etc). Slowly the good stuff evaporated until I was only going in for

        1. (Re-)Writable optical disks (same price as Amazon and unlike Amazon weren't being delivered broken)

        2. Batteries

        3. Jewel cases for 1.

        In the end I don't write as many disks as I used to, their batteries are expensive and/or crap so I only ever went in there for Jewel cases which tended to have one broken one per pack.

        I did buy a lot of their rechargeable batteries but they tend to fail completely within a few years and not many charge cycles. That compares unfavourably to the Uniross rechargeables I have from 2001 which are still going strong long beyond their specified life; so I gave up on those. Then when I wanted button cells my choices were £3 for one at Maplin or 10 for £1.50 inc postage via an Amazon trader. I don't mind paying a "Get it today" premium so £1 each isn't too bad but not 20x more!

      2. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

        Re: Well at least

        Screwfix uses a similar model to Argos, in that they have a huge amount of stock piled up for the size of the shop because it is all mostly behind the counter.

        It saves on overheads etc. but like Argos (and indeed online shopping) you can't really properly see what you're getting until you're getting it. No big deal if you know what you want/need, but sometimes it was nice just to browse Maplins.

        1. defiler Silver badge

          Re: Well at least

          <you can't really properly see what you're getting until you're getting it. >

          Yeah, but I've turned around whilst still at the counter and said "this isn't what I was after", and the change it no trouble at all in Screwfix.

          Annoyingly, the thing I changed it for simply didn't bloody work reliably in the screwgun, but they refunded me completely, even though one of the packs was open. I'm trying to fault Screwfix, but I really can't from my own experience.

          1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

            Re: Screwfix

            Ah, B&Q with a bit of extra ££££ added.

            I wanted something and the Screwfix a few miles away had it. So did the B&Q that I had to drive right past to get to Screwfix. Same thing but for 10% less. So I put up with the sheer delight of going to B&Q.

            I'd expect that many B&Q sites will close in the next year or so as the Screwfix sites are much smaller AND hold a lot less stock. They are clearly moving towards a delivery only model.

            1. kmac499

              Re: Screwfix

              Screwfix really piss me off with repeatedly trying to grab my details on cash purchases. Even on things that cost pennies.

              They also insist on photo ID for click and collect.. not just the card that bought the stuff. Just a tad Orwellian for a Tradesmen warehouse.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well at least

          "but sometimes it was nice just to browse Maplins"

          That was Maplin's biggest problem. People went there to browse more than to buy.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well at least

        "[If] Screwfix can keep their heads above water[..] why couldn't Maplins do it themselves?"

        On top of the fact (as others noted) that Screwfix operates more on a space-efficient counter-and-warehouse model, isn't the issue also that they're more generally located in less flashy units in more out-of-the-way industrial estates (like this one), whereas Maplin opened lots of large, expensive-to-run stores in retail parks next to DFS et al that effectively forced them down the "mass market tat" path just to cover the running costs?

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Well at least

          "Maplin opened lots of large, expensive-to-run stores in retail parks"

          Or in high streets (and a lot of Maplin's "hundreds of stores" are within Amazon Prime coverage areas)

          The problem wasn't that they opened them. The problem is that they kept them open when they were losing custom hand over fist. One of the more sensible openings in the last decade was a relatively small branch in the bottom of a large B&Q building at New Malden with a lot of integrated car parking (when Kingfisher owned both) that does reasonable turnover on account of being easily accessible from the A3 - easy access == more custom and people can't be bothered hitting closer stores if they have to faff with trying to find parking.

          That said even going in there has usually been an exercise in frustration over the last few years. The writing's been on the wall for Maplin for a long time, and it's not the only brainless zombie shuffling along the High Streets of Britain.

          1. graeme leggett

            Re: Well at least

            Norwich has two Maplin's. The city centre one which is fairly small floor size and feels like a place a human would fit in. And an out of town one next to PC world, curry's, a carpet shop etc. which is one of those places which is warehouse height inside and seems utterly unwelcoming.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well at least

          "[If] Screwfix can keep their heads above water[..] why couldn't Maplins do it themselves?"

          Well it could be because B&Q and Screwfix are owned by the same company? They sell the same stuff but B&Q is a complete rip-off. Millions of Baby Boomers flock there on a certain day of the week to get their OAP discounts probably subsidising Screwfix?

        3. DuchessofDukeStreet

          Re: Well at least

          Screwfix still operate under the model of being a trade business that happens to let private individuals walk in off the street and buy stuff.

          Maplin decided to stop being a trade supplier, and become a high street (high street equalling expensive retail park these days) just as that business model imploded.

          As the original poster said, if I'm going into a physical shop, I need to be getting one of these things from the visit:

          - immediate possession of the item

          - expert advice and knowledge from the staff

          - physical inspection of the goods before buying

          - subjective value in supporting a physical business in the local area (my parents are *never* going to buy online, no matter how long they live, so I still want them to have access to a range of shops)

    6. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Well at least

      You missed the most annoying thing - not being allowed into the shop until you'd said hello to the sales staff who were under pain of death to greet every customer with an uncheery "Hello".

      1. David Nash Silver badge

        Re: Well at least

        Last time I was in there, last week, I was asked about 4 times by staff members if I needed any help. I was clearly holding something I wanted to buy and was browsing elsewhere. Ask once, if they must, but 4 times in 10 minutes is over the top.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Well at least

          I have been in furniture retailers in Canada & actively stalked every step through the shop by sales assistants of one ethnic group active looking for their commission.

          On one occasion while both hunting & hunted, we found another sales rep, a guest who was with us from England sidled over to the vulture & said you would have got that sale if you hadn't made the shopping experience so unpleasant by hounding them.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Well at least

              Hmm. nice thinly veiled/blatant racism there

              Would you like chips with that shoulder?

          2. Alistair Silver badge
            Flame

            Re: Well at least

            @OnComing Scorn:

            LBB or Brick. Both. Utterly. Totally. Completely. the worst shopping experiences of my entire life. I exited the LBB in our area after being abundantly clear with the stalker that I'd found the device they were hyping as the latest, greatest, hottest item in the lineup was not one but four years out of manufacture in the manufacturers website, and having proved it to the creature, being called everything under the sun. About the only satisfaction I got was that the exit was into a mall space and her voice, screaming epithets of various origins, echoed through the immediate mall space.

            ____

            I grew up with Radio Shack (when I were a lad it was GOOD) and watched it rapidly devolve into buzzword bingo tat. I actually *miss* the Consumers Distributing model, although CD over here was not into electronics or digital, it was a household goods and toys vendor, I've always carried a flame thrower, full body shield, and a spiked club when I have been forced to shop at Best Buy for *anything* just to keep the credit card bullies, warranty sales reps and the utterly clueless types they refer to as the geek squad off of me. (I really wish there was a chemical repellent like DEET for those). We did have Tiger Direct stores around, although few and far between, there were a couple of us that would spend a lunch every month or so just browsing, now only online.

            My wife has Hot Topic, EB Games, EBX, TRU, Indigo, GameStop, and dozens of other stores to go gawk in. Me? I'm down to one really neat clothing store, Canadian Tire (who've really been upping their game lately), one lonely, scruffy not so perfect Computer parts store and the BBQ and kitchen bits chain (who are far far far too damned expensive in my books).

            I suppose I'm just getting too damned crusty in my old age......

        2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Well at least

          Same thing for me every time. It's like they think you are planning a shoplift rather than browsing or working out if it's worth paying for. It doesn't help when having asked if they can help they don't have a clue when asked about something.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well at least

            "It's like they think you are planning a shoplift rather than browsing or [...]"

            Went in once with my shopping trolley and they had the cheek to come up to me and ask me to zip it closed.

          2. Pseudonymous Clown Art

            Re: Well at least

            Agreed...who shoplifts from Maplin anyway?

            Really nerdy time conscious junkies?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well at least

        "[...] not being allowed into the shop until you'd said hello to the sales staff who were under pain of death to greet every customer with an uncheery "Hello"."

        and not being able to complete the purchase until you hand over your name and address. Although that didn't happen the last time I went in.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Well at least

          "and not being able to complete the purchase until you hand over your name and address. Although that didn't happen the last time I went in."

          Ah, good, they fixed the facial recog camera system :-)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well at least

        Yeah being haunted by staff has always been a factor I hate about Maplin.

        Esepcially since you only tend to go in if you know exactly what you need.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Well at least

          I've nearly always had a far worse experience at PC-World than at Maplin with staff pestering.

          At one, I just gave the items that I'd picked to the 5ft plonker who asked if I needed help with that and walked out.

      4. Duffaboy

        Re: Well at least

        That alone put me off going into stores as it puts you under pressure from the start, note to retailers do not do this it really pisses your customers off.

      5. Wingtech

        Friendly... Pah!

        "not being allowed into the shop until you'd said hello to the sales staff who were under pain of death to greet every customer with an uncheery "Hello""

        Well not entirely friendly.

        Went into a South London branch a few years ago wearing an open-faced crash helmet.

        I was asked to remove my crash-helmet. No problem you might say, except for the half dozen youths in there with hoodies and scarves around their faces. It wasn't winter and it wasn't a robbery!

        I asked whther their hoodies were being removed. hen they answered no, I left saying that it was clearly a racist and prejudiced policy - which it plainly was as all the other customers were of the same apparent ethnicity as the staff.

        Not sorry to see the back of them finally.

    7. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Well at least

      I bought some smart lights ( Philipps Hue ) a couple of months ago. I wanted them the same day and I thought Maplin would be a good place to look.

      Their range wasn't as extensive as Argos and the prices were higher too.

      What is the point in Maplin?

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Well at least

        "What is the point in Maplin?"

        The same as with Dick(head)Smith Electronics in Australia - there isn't one any more.

      2. MrZoolook

        Re: Well at least

        Componant for hobbyists. You only need 1 capacitor? As far as I know, nowhere else sells that shit individually. Only a few pence last my mate remembered.

        They'll even give you a 10% student discount on those 3 pence items... no joke.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well at least

      ..at 'least' Rutland Partners know what they're doing

      Bernard Matthews - erase & rewind?

    9. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Well at least

      It is always sad to hear that people will be losing their jobs wherever they work. Having said that the company shot themselves in the foot with their strategy. They have a computer in their stores that they haven't restricted as to what sites you can visit. Therefore it was possible to compare the prices in Maplins with CPC and Amazon. I saw people who checking the costs and then walking out having seen how much extra it was.

      The only real benefit of Maplins was that they were quick if you needed something immediately. They weren't cheap but then that's the trade off Also if a new showroom opened they had stock of nearly everything for about a week afterwards.

    10. MrZoolook

      Re: Well at least

      "4 - Massively marked up cables and connectors"

      Actually, my issue isn't with this, since you could just not buy them.

      No, my issue is with stolen cables. My mum bought a TV that clearly advertised on the box that it came with an HDMI cable, only to have the pushy salesman try to sell her an HDMI cable.

      Turns out that Maplin, and I've since found out other vendors, remove bundled cables SPECIFICALLY to drive up add on sales.

      That is why I've never shopped there.

      1. Merchman
        FAIL

        Re: Stolen cables

        I smell bollocks. Maplin don't sell TVs.

    11. Stu Mac

      Re: Well at least

      Ah, the cables. Yes order from Kenable at a fraction of the cost. But occassionally when you need one RIGHT NOW you pay. Online isn't always ideal and I won't use Amazon.

    12. FidotheFrightful

      Re: Well at least

      Agree, they could also do with improving their quality. At the moment it is rubbish 2 lamps blew up on me last year upon fitting. The filaments went on switching on. Maplins motto seems to have been 'Over priced, Our customers are cretins and We don't care about Quality'. Eventually I went 20 miles to and got 2 lamps for the same price as one Maplin lamp elsewhere.

  2. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Coat

    Time to say...

    "Ho-de-ho" then.

    I still mourn the passing of the book of dreams that was the Maplin catalogue though.

    1. Simon Ward

      Re: Time to say...

      Whilst I loved getting the Maplin catalogue back in the day, once I got to university I discovered it was a mere pamphlet compared to the 7 or 8 doorstop-sized volumes that RS used to produce.

      1. Mike 125

        >> it was a mere pamphlet

        Yea true, but back in the day, RS would only supply to company accounts - Farnell too, as I remember. Maplin would send you 1 resistor, 2 ceramic caps and if you could afford it, a matched pair of OC71s!

        'Maplin Electronic Supplies, Rayleigh, Essex', burned on my memory.

        Another good company gone bad. Very bad.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: >> it was a mere pamphlet

          Maplin catalogue of old doubled up as a datasheet where I would lookup pinouts and create schematics from.Then I would order bits, stripboard, DIL sockets, IC packages, transistors, resistors, caps, insulated tinned copper wire, solder, standoff mounts, enclosure, switches ,LEDs and wait keenly for them to arrive with another mail order form for the next round.

          Happy simple days.

          1. Mage Silver badge

            Re: >> it was a mere pamphlet

            Ambit catalogues

            Sigh.

            Maplin got pointless. Ordinary cables cheaper in Tesco, who are expensive compared to Poundland/Dealz Eurostores, Primark/Pennys.

            Increasingly didn't have what you wanted anyway, or poorer quality than elsewhere. Even B&Q or Argos better for tools.

            About x5 to x 30 dearer than China mail order, but often identical or poorer quality.

          2. techmind

            Re: >> it was a mere pamphlet

            Yes, it was the beginning of the end when they stopped putting the pinouts and other useful information in the catologues - they stopped that before the Internet went mainstream.

            And they've reduced their range so much that they could no longer be a one-stop-shop for electronics projects of any complexity ... and once you start having to look elsewhere for a few parts ... well you get the rest elsewhere too.

            I've been fortunate being able to order from RS and Farnell for private projects through work, but I understand they're much more open to this now anyway.

            Then again, I can't imagine either the RS or Farnell website is particularly easy for younger/less-experienced hobbyists to find some of the things they need - even with almost 20 years "professional" experience I sometimes find it frustratingly difficult to find some basic "hobbyist" electronics staple because I don't know the magic name of it.

            Watford Electronics used to have an interesting proposition they sold a considerable range of electronics basics, listed, with prices, in many columns, on about 2 sides of A4 in 6pt text! But while the hobbyists were queuing for the counter service (regularly half an hour or more on a Saturday) for their £15-£20 of small stuff ... the parents or siblings would be eyeing up or playing with the computers and accessories ... with £300 - £500 price tags.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: >> it was a mere pamphlet

          "Maplin would send you 1 resistor, 2 ceramic caps and if you could afford it, a matched pair of OC71s!"

          Used Henry's Radio mail order for those. We were also lucky to have a local Ham Radio shop that stocked Mullard and GE transistors - as well as war surplus radio stuff.

        3. mustn't grumble

          Re: >> it was a mere pamphlet

          I remember visiting their original shop in Southend, I first visited there when I was 10 or 11 and it was an amazing experience for someone at that age who was getting interested in electronics, It's a shame the brand was expanded beyond what it was actually capable of.

          1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

            Re: >> it was a mere pamphlet

            @Mustn't - I took a girlfriend to Southend on the train in about 1981 and she couldn't understand why I took her to the Maplin shop just to look round.

        4. jumpyjoe

          Re: >> it was a mere pamphlet

          Showing my age here but back in the 1960s or was 1970 STC brought a catalogue which contained almost every passive and active component that existed and with data sheets. Even an ordinary Joe like me could anything and any quantity from their catalogue. The only thing that never arrived at my door was a BC109 transitor that got lost in the post.

  3. wolfetone Silver badge

    Maplins goes in to administration.

    Toys R Us goes in to administration.

    Prezzo to close 100 stores.

    Snow outside.

    No bread or milk left in the shops because people panic at a bit of frost.

    If you were a journalist involved in retail you really would think it's the end of days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you were a journalist involved in retail you really would think it's the end of days.

      https://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2018/02/house-of-fraser-credit-insurer-cuts-ties/

      https://www.theindustry.fashion/new-look-credit-insurance-withdrawn/

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/01/02/poundland-owner-steinhoff-warns-accounting-scandal-stretches/

      And Debenhams aren't far behind House of Fraser.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      At least it's definitely not because of brexit.

      That's what David Davis told me anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "That's what David Davis told me anyway."

        ...and he said "If you don't believe me - ask Boris"

  4. andy gibson

    Edinburgh Woolen Mill

    Who on earth are their financial advisers to recommend buying such a lame duck?

    1. Simon Ward

      Re: Edinburgh Woolen Mill

      Why should they give a shit? They'll get paid either way.

      (which is more than can be said for the poor sods on the shop floor, irrespective of what you may think of them)

    2. jimbo36

      Re: Edinburgh Woolen Mill

      EWM were previously owned by Rutland, before being sold off to another investment group. Probably an attempt to call in a favour.

    3. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Edinburgh Woolen Mill

      Maplin probably have a lot of prime rented stores in the middle of big towns and shopping centres.

      Sure, it's not easy-money, but chances are you could snap them up, use the leases and it'll be cheaper than fighting for a prime spot.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Edinburgh Woolen Mill

      I'm always amazed Edinburgh Woolen Mill is still going. I just can't see how it can survive with so many stores all year round.

      They keep going though, so what do i know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Edinburgh Woolen Mill

        I'm always amazed Edinburgh Woolen Mill is still going. I just can't see how it can survive with so many stores all year round.

        So was I, until I gave it some thought. They know what their customers want, and sell it with a decent margin, but still at a price customers will pay, AND they keep an incredibly tight lid on business administration and distribution costs. Maplin clearly knew nothing about what their customers wanted, what price they could charge, but perhaps more importantly their overheads were out of control - EWM Group sold just shy of £600m of gear, against admin and distribution costs of £34m, Compare that to Maplin who sold £230m of gear against admin and distribution costs of £109m.

        I suppose EWM have the advantage that their market is far less influenced by internet traders, although a quick look indicates they have a much better website than you'd expect from their shops. Whereas Maplin's website has always been one of the worst going.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Edinburgh Woolen Mill

          "Whereas Maplin's website has always been one of the worst going."

          It's not just Maplin. It's clear that top manglement in a lot of these outfits need to get to grips with this new-fangled "Internet" thing and understand when the staff in marketing are fucking things around too much. The money boys seem to fall for "shiny shiny" demos and forget the number one importance of retail sales is making sales AND getting repeat custom.

          If I'm going to a website to buy stuff and work through a catalogue, do I _really_ need to be bombarded with banner adverts, or so much java/javascript that it needs a marching band to support it? WHY are the actual parts that matter - search functions - so completely and utterly broken? WHY are websites being optimised for XYZ browser?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    EWM may seem like an odd choice of buyer at first, but they were also owned by Rutland Partners before being sold off to another investment company a few years ago.

    Rutland has a pretty poor record to be fair, having previously worked for one of there investments that went the same way (and went through pre-pack) and then of course there was Bernard Matthews, which saw them being investigated for allegedly placing it into administration deliberately so the debts were written off for the new buyers who snapped it up about 30 minutes later. I say allegedly, I think they were cleared of it - there is/was a press release on their website about it.

    Given Rutland will get some money back somehow, the real ones who lose out are either the employees (if no buyer is found) or the taxpayers if the debts are written off through a pre-pack sale - that normally leaves a large black hole in the pension fund.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      if the debts are written off through a pre-pack sale - that normally leaves a large black hole in the pension fund.

      There's now no defined benefit fund for Maplin employees, so there will be no fund to have a black hole. But even when there is a pension deficit (say Carillion), the costs of filling the hole don't fall to taxpayers, they come out of the Pension Protection Fund, which is paid for by levies on all the other private pension schemes. Meaning that the well run companies with solvent pension schemes have to pay for the incompetence of crooks like Carillion.

      Taxpayers are of course on the hook for the perfect black hole of public pensions, which have in aggregate no significant fund, and thus (if accounted honestly) would be operating with a deficit equal to their future liabilities. If a private company did that its directors would go to jail.

  6. Fihart

    writing on the wall

    "Maplin previously admitted it troubles could result in a pre-pack administration...."

    I guess part of the problem was anyone who understood what a (for example) capacitor was wouldn't pay silly prices for them pre-packed.

  7. SwizzleStick

    Lets not drone on

    about the price of their drones.

    1. Haku

      Re: Lets not drone on

      Maplin drones - Sky high prices for toys that will inevitably crash to the ground.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Lets not drone on

        Well given the less than adept monkeys who buy/fly them this is not entirely surprising

        1. Haku

          Re: Lets not drone on

          @BebobWeBop, You're right for two reasons;

          1) They're usually bought as a present for someone who's never flown one before - it's virtually impossible to get into flying quadcopters without crashing.

          2) Competant quadcopter flyers generally don't buy them from a shop like Maplin which mostly stocks toy grade stuff.

          Oh and don't call us flyers "less than adept monkeys", it's a bit rude.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "as a secured creditor"

    They will be quite inclined to pull the plug at the drop of a hat.

    Historically UK banks used to call in a firm of accountants to decide if a firm was viable.

    Normally the firm that got that job got the administratorship if they found the company was not viable.

    Guess what? A lot of the time they weren't viable and the practice jumped right in, making sure to secure its fees first of course.

    However one UK bank then put the administration work out to tender if the accountants reports was unfavourable.

    Curiously they had a lot lower rate of insolvency.

    Sadly that was RBS.

    1. Red Ted
      Pirate

      Re: "as a secured creditor"

      Exactly.

      It's not in PWC interest to recover the company, as they'll get more money out of managing the administration. Their bills will be first in the queue to be settled when they try to pay off some of the debt.

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

        Re: "as a secured creditor"

        I suggest you look at PWCs handling of Lehman brothers for that.

        100% of UNSECURED Creditors paid.

        £5 Billion surplus.

        That is how administration should be handled.

        I leave it as an excercise for Red Ted to discover the fees due to PWC. (hint Grauniad)

  9. Pat Att

    I'll miss them

    I didn't use them much (and it seems nor did many others), but they have helped me out of tight spots before, selling components (yes, they still sell them, in the Worcester branch at least), and the odd other item.

    It looks like it'll be mail order only now, which gets expensive when you just want one transistor.

    1. An nonymous Cowerd

      Re: I'll miss them

      True, so now the secret to buying 'one transistor' is to buy components direct from fleabay for a quid, 3 months before you need it, for the little grey packet to travel around the world. It's not the purchase price that is high, just the, (when) will I ever get it?

      luckily I have the wide & varied stock bought historically from M&B Radio in Leeds

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I'll miss them

        " The secret to buying 'one transistor' is to..."

        Is to realise that all the funny numbers don't really mean that much(*) and that you only actually need around 4 generics to do most jobs, then buy a baggie of 20 of each type for 2-3p each.

        Ditto on resistors. Whilst there are 9 values per decade in 5% and 9 decades in ranges, you typically only need quantities of 6 values and 10 of everything else will last nearly a lifetime whilst only costing a tenner or less if you buy them all at once.

        (*) In the bad old days each batch of transistors made would be characterised and then a new type number assigned, with every batch being different thanks to chemical variations and poor understanding of the laws of quantum physics. The fact remains that the vast majority of transistors are used as switches, followers (impedance converters) or current drivers and matching gains don't matter unless you're building some precision class AB circuit that noone would ever bother with anymore due to op amps being far more stable, consistent to characterise and less noisy when deployed correctly.

        As for caps, wide variations in values don't matter much (if at all) unless you're playing with RF and the bigger problem there is some numb-nuts who doesn't understand parasitic inductance substituting low value electrolytics for high value ceramics or mylars. Newer electrolytic building techniques have pretty much eliminated the huge parastic inductances we used to see anyway, hence why circuits no longer slug 100uF electros with 0.1uf bypass caps (unless you're the paranoid type like me).

        Times change but it's always been better to buy your small components by the kilo and then use them in projects as they come along than to try and buy 1 of N and 2 of Y, etc etc etc. You may never use 80% of them, but having the ones you need onhand when you need 'em is still cheaper than 2-3 trips to the shops.

        As for Maplins and the others of their ilk: Unlike hobbyist leatherwork or candlemaking (which are making resurgences), hobbyist electronics is a dying art and that has a lot more to do with most teachers being scared of technology and maths than any decrease in availability of discrete componentry.

        1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          Re: I'll miss them

          Too true. In about 1985 I went to Bardwell's (remember them?) and they had baggies of pre-bent resisters and caps for a quid or so each. I bought a spread of E series and I'm still using some of them now.

    2. IntermediateAl

      Re: I'll miss them

      Some of us old barstewards remember when they were primarily a mail order business, with a few shops in larger cities like London, Manchester, Bristol etc. You'd have to buy a catalogue from WH Smiths but they were pretty good value though.

      Unfortunately they basically went and filled the hole left by the closure of Tandy. So their few stores slowly multiplied and changed from a catalogue focused electronics store (more Screwfix than today's Maplin) to a larger version of Tandy (with the same reputation Tandy had for not being cheap).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The web site was awesome.

    In the way it downloaded Exabytes of scripts and shit to render a poorly functioning page.

    "It worked fine in development".

    Did it.

    Did it, really.

    Still, it looks like the developers are ok. It seems like they have de-camped to Halfords.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: The web site was awesome.

      Still, it looks like the developers are ok. It seems like they have de-camped to Halfords.

      Oh, PLEASE can Halfords give us back those plastic flip cards for selecting the correct wiper blades. The new tablets they put in there are hopeless. They never seem to work when I'm in there....

    2. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: The web site was awesome.

      God the website is bad. I wanted to order some components to make a little circuit I'd got the specs for, went to the Maplins website and shockingly they still do components and you can click and collect. Except each time I selected something I had to select my local store. Because obviously I might want to collect the transistors from one store and the capacitors from another. I got half way through the list, lost patience with the whole thing and ordered from bitsbox.co.uk, didn't get the parts that day but it was so much less hassle and cheaper. Sooo much cheaper.

  11. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    I only tend to use their bricks & mortar stores fairly infrequently, when I need a specific cable or connector at short notice, and I don't think I've ever bought from them online.

    They are, however, burned into my consciousness as a name from my youth, and I'll be sorry to see them go.

    Like the airbag in my car, or Radio 3, I don't necessarily make much use of them but I feel better for knowing that they're there.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Like the airbag in my car, or Radio anything but 3, I don't necessarily make much use of them but I feel better for knowing that they're there.

    2. Michael Strorm

      @Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese; "I only tend to use their bricks & mortar stores fairly infrequently [..] I don't necessarily make much use of them but I feel better for knowing that they're there."

      Unfortunately, that's the problem. "Feeling better knowing that they're there" doesn't pay the bills any more than cliched nostalgic recollections of pick-n'-mix did when Woolies closed down (from people who hadn't been there in years), or endless reposts of Paul Simon lyrics when they stopped making Kodachrome (mostly from people I bet hadn't bought a roll in a decade).

      Not that I'm defending Maplin; they *were* overpriced for components and too full of mediocre consumer tat the last time I was there (about five years ago- you see my point!) And it could be argued that the economics that forced them down that mass-market path were their own fault for choosing to open too many expensive-to-run "big box" stores in the first place. (Might be wrong, but this smacks of the kind of thing private equity owners would force them to do).

      I'll note that I overheard the staff there speaking to someone else, and they did come across as genuinely enthusiastic, knowledgable and helpful, so I certainly wouldn't blame them personally.

      Ultimately, it might be argued that a Maplin concentrating on components and parts is unsustainable in the eBay age (even if they *had* chosen to retain the focus on smaller and cheaper shops and even with the "Maker" revival in recent years).

      No-one owes it to them to keep them in business, but on the flip side if we buy everything on eBay except an urgently-needed capacitor every couple of years, that's not sustainable- we can't have our cake and eat it.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Used to use their bricks & mortar store quite a lot (it was in the city centre and a browse was often worth while)

        Then they closed it and opened up a larger one in an "out of town" retail park that was absolute PITA to reach by public transport, and miles from city centre so essentially car only.

        Which meant I never went to my "local" Maplins again as still plenty of other city centre shops to have a bit of a browse in without lots of travel hassle.

  12. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

    Not a surprise :-(

    I very much identified with the "world of dreams" comment about the old catalogue :-(

    However, this is a mail order business, no one can afford retail space and staff unless you have a significant margin. I might nip off to my local one and grab some transistors for old times sake though...

  13. d3vy Silver badge

    People only go to maplin now if they need something today or its not available on prime for next day delivery.

    The markup is ridiculous, their own brand rechargable AAs are the only thing Ill really miss and thats just because the regularly have them on sale 14 rechargeable Batteries for £10.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hosting in Attenda?

    Wonder how much of a hit Ensono (Attenda) going to take since they were bigging up moving all of Maplin stuff over to a managed AWS service.

  15. dbgi

    A real shame

    I grew up with Maplins as a kid. In the early days it was just a mail order company. I used to enjoy flicking through the catalogue looking for components for my next project as a 9 year old. Nowadays it is like society is dumbed down and can't even wire-up a 13amp plug, so no surprise why Maplin had a shift in market. But then they opened so many stores that attracted the average consumer rather than the specialist market they once were.

    As people have suggested though, Maplins used to be reasonably priced on components, but then they started opening more stores and replaced individual components with "goody" bags and selling overpriced tat.

    Really, they should have never bothered expanding their line of stores. They should have kept to online sales and made it a more consumer version of farnells/RS.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      My life in 1976

      Me too.

      1976: Everyday Electronics drops through letterbox, check projects, check which will fit in baccy tin (diecast boxes were too expensive), check stock of old resistors and capicitors in jam jars, check money in piggy bank and how many Maplin vouchers, order from Maplin, get stuff next day, build dry-joint ridden project that never worked, take apart and consign to jam jars until next month. Bliss.

      BTW - much of my engineering working life was pretty much the same.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: My life in 1976

        Headley_Grange, you are me and I claim my five pounds.

        Though I claim that Maplins was doomed the day I went into the Oxford Road branch for an IC. Turns out it wasn't in stock, but they offered an equivalent on the grounds that it had the same number of legs...

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: My life in 1976

          Neil - I was still using my Everyday Electronics continuity tester up until a few years ago. It got lost in a move and I mourn it like a dead relative.

          1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: My life in 1976

            I'm still using my Everyday Electronics resistor plastic bending tool thing.

            1. Linker3000

              Re: My life in 1976

              Orange - very orange!

              https://www.reddit.com/r/electronics/comments/5ez7cl/rulers_living_in_the_plastic_age/

              1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

                Re: My life in 1976

                The modern equivalent comes with a 13-page datasheet:

                https://www.digikey.co.uk/product-detail/en/digi-key-electronics/PCB-RULER-12INCH/PCB-RULER-ND/5767550

    2. x 7

      Re: A real shame

      "They should have kept to online sales and made it a more consumer version of farnells/RS."

      That's why Farnell purchased CPC....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is what happens when businesses get taken over by Private Equity firms

    about par for the course.

  17. d3vy Silver badge

    Luckilly for me Scan is a 10 minute drive away from home so Maplin has always been a last resort for anything I need!

    1. PhilBuk

      50 minutes away from me but still worth it!

      Phil.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stock problems are what really did Maplin in...

    I was happy to pay a premium to buy 5 FETs now, rather than ordering from the internet and waiting. The reason I generally ended up ordering from the internet was that Maplin had taken to only having 2 or 3 available in each store.

    Having to visit 2 or perhaps even 3 stores to get 5 identical transistors is clearly completely brain-dead, and Maplin has had tiny stocks of individual components for at least a decade.

    I grew up popping into Tandy with my dad, then when Tandy dissapeared, I had to resort to mail order until a Maplin appeared near where I live, and now it looks like I'll have to go back to mail order again...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stock problems are what really did Maplin in...

      " and now it looks like I'll have to go back to mail order again..."

      It takes a while to find a supplier who you feel you can rely on. At the weekend I ordered some bits from an Arduino supplier. They also had packs of 250mw 2k2 resistors that I needed - which Bright Components don't stock. I threw in packs of 1M0 and 1k0 while I was at it.

      Unfortunately "free postage" on ebay doesn't allow you to negotiate for a postage discount on a large-ish order. So the postage part of the total was almost certainly excessive. Of course it may be they take an effective loss on one-off small component orders. Swings and roundabouts.

      When the order arrived I had to get the meter out to see which resistors were which. A blue base colour with five superimposed colour bands meant that several colours were all a similar muddy shade of brown. I definitely couldn't identify them by eye - and I've been reading those codes for nearly 60 years.

  19. adam payne Silver badge

    “We will now work tirelessly alongside Zelf Hussain, Toby Underwood and Ian Green, from PWC, who have been appointed as the joint administrators of Maplin Electronics Ltd to achieve the best possible outcome for all of our colleagues and stakeholders,” said Harris.

    Best possible outcome for everybody except the staff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Best possible outcome for everybody except the staff.

      Not much the administrators can do, is there? The company is bust, it has no worthwhile assets, and the stuff it does have (stock) is worth a fraction of the book value. The administrators are doing a job required by law, of working out the size of a very small pie, dividing that pie up according to well established but complex rules. If Rutland group have made themselves a secured creditor, I can only as "secured on what?".

      There is however a warning from this for other shop workers. Is your store selling enough to keep going? Retail insolvencies tend to be slow motion events, often predictable years in advance. And whilst looking at the published accounts is a good guide, so is simply looking at the number of customers and what they spend, and the ambience of the store. If it's dingey and poorly lit, that's a subliminal message to customers "we're fading away, and we won't invest to improve". If it is well lit and attractive but still empty (like Maplin) then the product and pricing are wrong. Either way, better to move along on your own terms to a company that are doing adequately or better, than to sit it out to the grim end.

  20. Tardious

    Hitting the sh**, they've been rolling down the hill long enough

    It a shame really, but the loss of component sales, poor marketing and influx of crap products started a long time ago. The maker movement is bigger than it ever has been, and they could have capitalised off it but instead they tried to sell chinese crap, gadgets and overpriced cables. The last insult was the lack of local marketing, we have a fairly large store nearby but most residents didn't even know they existed. Sadly they will not be missed, Amazon took thier place...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hitting the sh**, they've been rolling down the hill long enough

      @Tardious; "they could have capitalised off [the revived Maker movement instead of selling] chinese crap, gadgets and overpriced cables"

      Unfortunately, they pretty much forced themselves down that path with their decision to open more "big box" stores (no doubt due to pressure from private equity owners).

      The "Maker" niche may well have supported a successful business built around modestly-sized stores in moderately prominent locations (provided they'd marketed themselves correctly), but even that was never going to cover the overheads associated with running a large out-of-town "retail shed".

      Of course, neither- ultimately- did selling "crap, gadgets and overpriced cables".

    2. Colabroad

      Re: Hitting the sh**, they've been rolling down the hill long enough

      There was a hackspace across the road from the Leeds Maplins, but they ordered all their components online to avoid the rediculous markup (if Maplin even had it in stock!).

      At least the brand serves as a cautionary tale now?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hitting the sh**, they've been rolling down the hill long enough

        At least the brand serves as a cautionary tale now?

        Well they've covered most bases:

        Wrong products

        Wrong prices

        Wrong store format

        Wrong locations

        Wrong website

        Wrong cost mix

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missed opportunity

    Fond memories as a slightly lonely/geeky teen in the early 90s, the catalogue (alongside EPE mag and one corner of Tandy) was an inspiration. The best pre-internet technical reference and wonderful artwork. I remember when the back wall of the small Leeds branch disappeared one day and it became the first "Mondo" Maplin - heaven! The rot set in long ago, and even the once-cavernous Leeds branch ditched lots of retail shelf space to make way for... empty windows. On a street few people walk down. About the time they stopped selling an awesome range of tools and mostly stocked cheap Rolson rubbish.

    I once thought that electronics hobbyists had died out along with my youth, but I think it's as strong as ever today, we just seem to get called "makers" (ugh!) Maplin should have capitalised on this but they were probably already too ill to notice. They could have been the Games Workshop of the irritatingly-named "maker community". Pi's, micro controllers, 3D printing, multirotor / RC building, synths, all sorts of possibilities I couldn't have dreamed of 30 years ago. There's all kinds of cool stuff on banggod.com that Maplin could have built a community around and capitalised on.

    Instead they took only the crap from banggood.com and branded it their own at four times the price. The sooner this sad corpse is gone the better. I just feel bad for the staff.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too bad

    I've learned that a name is just a name, and as an asset can be bought, sold, rendered worthless and meaningless by simple actions. So really, there is no point feeling nostalgic for Maplin as "that" Maplin disappeared years ago.

    Today I give you new Maplin, home of the massively overpriced USB stick:

    Amazon: GBP 55: link.

    Maplin: GBP 75: link

    (sad but true note: Amazon US: USD 55...link)

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Too bad

      Actually, you really need to compare like with like:

      Tesco Direct/click+collect: GBP 70: link

      PC World: Online/click&collect: GBP 55: link

      I suspect the PC World price is price matching Amazon, however, I've often gone into Maplin and had them price match Tesco/PC World/Asda (all local to Maplin).

  23. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Me too ...

    Like many of the others, been using Maplin for components for as long as I can remember. And I remember the old catalogue/reference library with it's awesome covers.

    We've had a store near us for a few years - and I have to admit that I wondered how on earth they could make it pay, having some inkling of what they'd be paying in rent, rates, and staff pay. And yes, there's a very small components section and a lot of "stuff that everyone and his dog sells". Still, can be very useful when you need one off of something and you want it quickly.

  24. The Average Joe Bloggs

    Terrible service

    Went to Maplins a few months ago. Staff were way more concerned with playnig with the gadgets than helping anyone. They like to think themselves as "Apple genius'" type people but came across as obnoxious nerds.

    I am a nerd myself, but a friendly one, the staff at maplins are one of the reasons why I didnt go in much, as well as the prices were stupidly high, some were even worse than PC world.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Terrible service

      Also in Ireland (Six stores ex Belfast which is UK), for over 10 years selling stuff that either doesn't work here, or can't be licensed here or is even plain illegal. CE! means not compliant all of EU.

      TVs (even Analogue era), tuners, UK CBs, non-446 two way radios and phones are obvious ones in the past and now.

      UPS claimed to be "sinewave" but pure square wave, so evil for transformer based PSUs.

      Also selling irresponsibly.

      Some very keen and helpful staff. Shame to see them so ill paid and in a place with so much junk.

      It's sad. The present owner claimed it would be reformed, but it got worse.

      There is a place for a properly managed Bricks & Mortar Electronics & Gadgets shop. PC World/Currys now have no choice or parts worth speaking off. Carphone warehouse hardly better than Tesco for phone / tablet choice. What if you what a phone that's not a Doro or full touch screen slab? Online only.

      HiFi or speakers for mortals that's not Audiophool stuff? Online only.

  25. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

    Memories

    When I was a child discovering an interest in hobbiest electronics the Maplin catalogue was a revelation. I was as excited to get a new copy as mu Mum was to get the new Argos catalogue. I would flick through the sections that interested me the most, reading the descriptions and learning what components were avaliable and what they could do.

    I used to put them together in my mind and see what I could come up with.

    They supplied datasheets for free and I still have my well loved datasheets on the 6502 and 6522 chips.

    I remember hating their CD catalogue as the thing was a general mess and hardly worked. I tolerated it as those free datasheets were now on the CDROM.

    Then it changed. No longer did I go in and browse through the components. There were no components. Well there were (still are) some, leds and connectors mostly. The Velleman kits also reduced in number, but they were still there. What was very obvious was that Maplin was now trying to sell me the cheap chinese "ready built" stuff.

    I no longer felt particulaly at home in maplin as their staff became dumber and dumber (happened to PC world also, who had no clue what a PCI SATA controller was). During this time I even applied for a job at my local maplin. Thinking they would snap me up for really knowing some stuff about battery types and semiconductor pinouts. Oh they were impressed but more stort of "Oh wow, you know what these things do?". I was like "Yeah of course I do, dont you at least read the catalogue?".

    I still go there. Get the odd bit of cable and connectors etc. Sometimes an LED or even one of the lucky dip component bags which are a bit of fun. Tools they have also, which helps a lot. Recently got a bbc micro:bit from there. Bring on the sales! I will camp outside and buy any cheap PIC programmers/Pi hats and arduinos they have going plus a new soldering iron. Oh and a CB radio which I have my eyes on.

    1. Laura Kerr

      Re: Memories

      "Bring on the sales!"

      That was my first thought, too. I quite fancy some of the stage lighting gear they do. It's hardly pro quality, but it would do for a few small gigs.

  26. x 7

    Anyone remember MTM, the chemicals conglomerate back in the 1980's?

    They went insolvent after the directors ramped the share price and the auditors refused to sign the books......share price dropped form £2+ to 2p overnight.....

    Went into administration, which was reversed after a week when the remaining board members proved the administrators were incompetent at running a chemical operation and were only interested in lining their own accounts...in the event a new board was created from existing management with supervision from the bank and managed to keep the business running long enough to sell it as a going concern.

    As far as I can remember the bank was RBS and the Administrators Price Waterhouse (Now PWC)

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: MTM, PWC and BT Italy?

      See title.

      But Maplins is doomed. Surprising it didn't close 10 years ago!

  27. flingback

    Does anyone know how things work any more?...

    Back in the day (I am 50 this year), there was Maplin and for truly obscure components, Odeon Radio in Harrow. The trouble is that people actually built things back then - for my school project I wrote a home automation system for the ORIC1 which used it's parallel port, an A2D and some switching logic as well as FET's, relays, etc. to turn on the boiler. Basically apart from the remote control aspect, it was to all intents Hive with a bit of lighting control to keep the burglars at bay. The Maplin catalogue was anoraky reading for me - I dread to say that I actually enjoyed it and ideas flowed from its pages. Just having the information there in front of you was massively inspiring.

    The last time I went to Maplin's in Croydon I was amazed that they did still have components, and it wasn't that long ago. Sadly there aren't really many hobbyists now to justify the high street store, and in particular specialist stores, so Maplin management thought they get smart and stock tat. It now looks like it has gone the way of Odeon Radio... RIP Maplin, you'll always have a place in my heart.

    1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Does anyone know how things work any more?...

      Betteridge's law of headlines applies...

      Is this dumbing down of the population by chance, or design?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does anyone know how things work any more?...

        "Is this dumbing down of the population by chance, or design?"

        The neighbours' 8 year old boy was given a class piece of homework to cover several weeks. They had to each draw a circuit with a battery, switch, and two bulbs - then make it. His parents had no idea how to help him - so I was asked to spend a hour or so tutoring him. Took across the bits from an educational "breadboard" kit and he ended up with something he could take to school.

        I wouldn't say he was particularly interested - or that he would be able to explain how it worked. I get the impression that many of these homework tasks get done by kids' parents. Usually I get a frantic call for bits after the shops are closed - when a piece of creative homework is suddenly found to have a delivery date of the next day.

        His older brother loves Lego - but when he sees my Halloween SFX he never asks "how...?".

        An acquaintance's 12 year old son was telling me how he liked programming. I suggested to his father that I could give him some spare Arduino modules that could drive leds and motors etc. The next thing I knew he was refusing to even say hello in the street - having effectively accused me of having ulterior motives.

        I learned most of my electronics basics from the adults at the local radio club. Back in the 1960s people weren't so paranoid. Nowadays I suspect any radio club has a much higher threshold age limit.

  28. jms222

    Much the same age as flingback. I still have my 15W Antex iron that was £5 from Odeon Radio ! It's not been my main iron for ages but I still use it occasionally.

    Main local electronics shop was on Village Way East, Rayners Lane. Occasionally for a real outing I would visit Maplin in Hammersmith.

    I loved the catalogues with the cover art and stacks of data.

  29. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    simple plan

    shed 100 stores, invest in website and distribution, drop prices 33% = PROFIT

  30. Dwarf Silver badge

    Always optimistic

    According to their web site they are still giving away their money off vouchers for orders over £10

    I'm sure they will be useful in the coming weeks :-)

  31. Charles Calthrop

    Reg readers

    Lots of crying into software company fleeces from our phone on belt wearing brethren.

  32. The_H

    Sad day but no surprise

    Me and Maplin go back a long way. To about 1978 to be precise. Those were the days of "PO Box 3, Rayleigh, Essex SS6 8LR". The catalogue better than any reference book. The flimsy separate price list. The coloured vouchers you got with each order (which could be exchanged for more bits). The photos of all staff in the catalogue, from Doug to Ivy the tea lady. The two shops in Southend and Hammersmith.

    Maplin had a brilliant mail order business. They could have built on that, over and over, and when the web came along they could have made a modest mint out of it. Instead, they took the retail shilling, opened up a multitude of - let's be honest - tat bazaars, and the rest is sadly now history.

    There were some genuinely great people at Maplin, so thoughts go out to them all today. And I'll raise a glass tonight to the old days, where between Practical Electronics and Maplin I wasted enough pocket money to get me where I am today.

    1. flingback

      Re: Sad day but no surprise

      You're right - Maplin were actually ahead of the game. They started off in mail order, and then went to retail at a time when everyone else is shifting to mail (internet) ordering!

  33. gBone

    Failed when they moved from Electronics to Electrical

    Maplins was once Hobby Electronics, but rather than being a useful niche seller they tried to increase volume by selling any domestic tat with a plug on it. Once they had staff who knew an OC71 from a BC108 but most staff today could not wire their laces.

    Even when magazines like Everyday Electronics and Electronics Today International roamed the earth, "The Maplin Magazine" was very clean and unadventurous; sort of a suit and tie IBM of hobby electronics selling one resister at a time at silly prices, while all the kids just wanted to mess around and experiment with mixed goody bags & ferric chloride proof pens. They dumbed things down to pre-printed circuit boreds and 10 components - kits Maplin sell today don't even come with circuit diagrammes, never mind any explanation of how they work.

    Maplin died years ago.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Failed when they moved from Electronics to Electrical

      "[...] ferric chloride proof pens."

      We used shellac and a fine paintbrush. In the 1960s you could probably get ferric chloride by mail order.

      The corner chemist would supply us with all sorts of chemicals for experiments - and glass tubes to bend and blow to make simple apparatus. We were taught how to do such things at secondary school.

    2. Spencer Tomlinson

      Re: Failed when they moved from Electronics to Electrical

      You mean a OA71 Germanium diode and a metal can BC108 general purpose transistor....2SC3904 is the modern equiv.

      1. Spencer Tomlinson

        Re: Failed when they moved from Electronics to Electrical

        2N3904.....I meant.

      2. Steve 114

        Re: Failed when they moved from Electronics to Electrical

        Weren't the 'OC's the transistors? Like little black bullets? Still got some somewhere.

    3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      >> They dumbed things down to pre-printed circuit boreds

      Please tell me that was intentional.

      Either way you get an upvote.

      Re germanium: OC71 were about the most common transistors (and you could make opto-transistors from them by scraping the black coating off, until they wised up and started filling the case with a translucent/opaque gunk); OA47 were a very common germanium transistor, very prone to inducing hum from fluorescent lighting if they were e.g. being the detector in a 3-transistor radio and you had the cover off.

      And as others have said: the catalogue (along with the Henry's Radio catalogue) was the gem. Even the parametric searching offered by the big three these days doesn't really help if you're just looking for inspiration; there's nothing like flicking through a catalogue on the vague idea that you saw something interesting.

  34. Fredfredfred3

    The interest is still there.

    Have to agree with dreams comment... I used to write articles for the maplin catalogue- the whole concept was to enthuse people to make things. What could people make? All these fabulous new ideas that were bang up to date in the market that were being talked about on Tomorrows world... where could they buy these components? Yup, from us! Hooray! Everybody wins.

    To rescue the entire hobby industry we need to do the same again. Yes, sure the chinese can bang out cheap tat, but they are now experimenting like we used to years ago. That's why the UK has the worlds best engineers. No argument. We're old now, but still some of the most creative, imaginative people on this little planet.

    To sell more components, you need to create ideas that can be made at home. So ok, preprogrammed micros if needs must, maybe even PLDs and FPGAs. Definitely PCBs and relays... The maplin magazine was a cornerstone of inventiveness for curious minds in hardware. The same is happening in software today, but only because of the difficulties in putting together hardware. The knowledge is being lost. Provide easily changeable hardware and get the creative software people to play and there'll be some amazing new creations turning up to change the world....

    Solution: create semi-built projects that can be customised and tweaked using software from a website. Create a user group (sorry, forum!) that has standard files that people can share. Sure you can buy compnents from ebay, but receiving a small bag of bits is way more fun, especially if it has preprogrammed stuff...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The interest is still there.

      The Arduino covers that hobby niche with no problem. Cheap Chinese modules are easy to lash together to get the functionality. I have a stock cupboard full of modules - and only occasionally need to go down to component level. It may look like electronic Lego - but you are still designing something to meet a function.

      A Vero pin-matrix style breadboard is ok for lashing together a prototype. Transferring the design to a piece of Vero*** board and assembling it all in a suitable box takes the time though.

      There must be thousands of XP laptops gathering dust that will work as Arduino IDE systems.

      ***Vero is now apparently the name of a new social media offering

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: The interest is still there.

        >It may look like electronic Lego

        Real electronic Lego:

        https://www.lego.com/en-gb/mindstorms

        The trouble is that you need at least Vista (or MacOS 10.6) for the Dev toolset.

        Interestingly, Maplin don't sell Lego Mindstorm even though it would slot quite nicely into their offering.

    2. Spencer Tomlinson

      Re: The interest is still there.

      I work with PLC's or programmable logic devices/controllers and field programmable gate arrays but having them on the shelf and having the staff Xylinx trained is another. Throw away world.... sad

  35. The Godfather
    Unhappy

    Should never have happened...

    When you’re saddled with a shit balance sheet and any profit you generate is swallowed up by debt and loan note interest, no amount of bright spark ideas can get you out of a hole when your business needs to change direction. Those very ideas are limited as a consequence of a lack of financial clout and often lead to the cheapest option that rarely delivers.

    This is a business with gross margins of around 50% but saddled with a woeful balance sheet, the result of repeated Private Equity investment and lack of real direction.

    I once sat in a meeting with non-exec Director representing PE Investors in the funding of an MBO involving a midlands based OEM. He was totally clueless of the business and had no inkling of how important the previous owners had been to it’s success. The result? a second PE investment that subsequently added to the debt and further weakened the balance sheet. When sales stutter in such instances, the writing is on the wall.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Should never have happened...

      "He was totally clueless of the business and had no inkling of how important the previous owners had been to it’s success. "

      And this is going to keep happening. PE tends to be vulture capital. If they can't get their money back (and then some) within 18 months, they strip the corpse and flog it on, putting a new coat of paint on it if need be, but you can guarantee that's been paid for by something critical stripped from elsewhere.

      I'd say that fewer than 5% of struggling businesses which get into PE hands survive very much longer and maybe 5% of that 5% actually get the phoenix-like recovery that's being touted by the so-called rescuers.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The sad demise of the high street, soon all you will be able to get is a kebab and a fight.

    We asked for cheap food, cheap electronics, cheap clothes and cheap booze.......we got it but we lost something.

  37. Paul Uszak

    Why are you all dissing Maplins?

    I don't understand what everyone's on about. They're an excellent shop. Look, you can buy a drill - https://www.maplin.co.uk/p/maplin-18v-lithium-ion-cordless-drill-n29lk. Just where else could you get one of these fine electronic devices (with built in batteries)? Not Toys'R'Us eh? And it's in stock at my local store. Save me a trip to Argos that will...

  38. Herby Silver badge

    Thankfully, I live in sillycon valley...

    Sure Radio Shack (Tandy) has all but disappeared, but we do have Fry's Electronics (they also sell refrigerators) and a couple of surplus stores that actually sell components.

    Many moons ago, we did have Zack electronics (Palo Alto), but they went away in the early 80's just when Fry's was taking off. Sadly with the way things are built these days, we all strive for "instant gratification", and it is never soon enough. We buy and discard on a daily basis, and don't have time for the act of putting something together. That knowledge is hidden in the macro items we buy.

    Such a shame.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone considered

    Buying up all the stock of actual electronic components because they were actually very good quality, and setting up vending machines at hackerspaces?

    There's a reasonable case to be made for something like this, your average nerd/hacker/tinkerer is probably working 9 to 5 job and ends up missing out.

    I recall at some airports there being vending machines selling PAYG phones for folks unlucky enough to have problems with their USian "smart" phone not connecting to UK networks due to licensing or network locking issues.

    If similar machines also sold things like Arduinos with a good bunch of parts in a nice box then there would doubtless be sales, you could even set up something where if they take their receipt into an actual shop later they get a discount.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Has anyone considered

      'Buying up all the stock of actual electronic components because they were actually very good quality, and setting up vending machines at hackerspaces?'

      Actually, that's not too bad an idea, apart from the fact that to keep your initial costs down you would have to limit yourself to using second/Nth hand vending machines and all the fun electromechanical foibles you then have to contend with (and don't get me started on the coin mechs and their problems - an example of what happens when the responsibility for keeping the things maintained gets passed around like the proverbial hot potato..oh, how I laughed when I opened that machine up..)

  40. hatti

    Shame

    What will happen to all the virgins?

  41. Spencer Tomlinson

    Bums on seats not Priced to profit, priced to death

    The last time I shopped in Maplin I think I had been fleeced for 39p for 1 resistor. The fact I can buy 100 for the same price elsewhere (not Amazon as they don't pay tax and I refuse to shop with them). I immediately contacted the highest management I could, pleading with them to lower the price on components to a minimum markup, they replied "we have no immediate plans to change the pricing structure on resistors and other discrete components. It is unlikely this will change in the future!", obviously miffed I scurried away. Bums on seats, get the consumer inside the door and not to force them underground.

    Swann CCTV system which is a £399 model marked up as £599! The thing with Maplin they missed the part where you see what the other guy is selling via Google and undercut him/her. I remember Maplins 30 years ago when I took 3 busses to get to the Ilford store, packed to the rafters with electronics geeks to car enthusiasts. This has zero to do with Brexit and more to do with the consumer wanting the best bang for their buck, unfortunately to little too damn late.

    1. Spencer Tomlinson

      Re: Bums on seats not Priced to profit, priced to death

      I'm a radio Ham too, I know what I'm buying and it's made worse as Hams are like a sewing circle, gossiping about rip off Maplins.

      You don't employ a Road Sweeper to run an electronics shop..... do you.

  42. wellbourne

    Jumper cables

    I will be sad to see Maplin go. But 10 jumper cables for £7 is not really a goer in todays market.

  43. Duffaboy

    The slide started when

    They went into the mass market high street presence and were no longer a specialist store. I shipped there as a young technician when the Wye for the counter was 20 deep no there stored are empty. The staff were proper techies back then and new what each component did and offered alternatives the massive expansion and expensive prices have killed this business

  44. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    This is going to be problematic for one of my local retails parks, as they host a Maplins, and a Toys 'R' Us, and both announced they were going into administration yesterday. They probably cover ~20% of the shopfloor, and it's hard to see who will be able to take up the space.

  45. Alex Masters

    Sad, but inevitable.

    Like most of the posters, I was hugely inspired by the Maplins catalogues of the early 80's and spent many an hour going through 74-series and 6502 datasheets and dreaming. Despite that residual fondness, Maplin have for years uncomfortably straddled the consumer and electronics hobbyist / DJ markets. I suspect that the hobbyist market is done for - people used to build partly to learn and for pleasure, but also that it was a route to obtaining a piece of kit for the same or less than it would have been available for commercially. I don't think there are many that would own a traditional class AB power amp for example, let alone choose to build one rather than buy Chinese modules from eBay. Not really a viable retail business sadly.

    I did use my local Kingston Maplin from time to time as they still had a useful line of tools and sundries. I must go and clear out their stocks of antistatic foam cleaner as it's the best general purpose cleaning agent I've ever found!. While I'm there, I need to stock up on solder station tips, flux cleaner, shrink wrap....

    Strangely, Kingston Maplin was moved to a shiny new store that opened about three weeks ago. A strange business decision given what has unfolded this week.

  46. Andy3

    Brexit my rse.

    MAPLIN is not going bust because of Brexit, it's been heading down the pan for many years and has been bought and sold several times. Maplin was once a (fairly) respected electronic components retailer and did good business with the radio & electronics enthusiast market. Sadly, that market got a bit thin and Maplin had to start selling gadgets and Far Eastern tat instead. The last time I went, I came away empty-handed as they had none of my usual stuff in stock. The few components they continued to sell were massively over-priced and no-one in their right mind would buy them. How about £2.49 for a single F-plug, when CPC or RS will sell you one for 16 pence? Why pay £15 for a flashily-packed stereo phono lead when a perfectly good one is on the shelves at Rapid or Bert's Bits for ££3.95? Ripping people off is not the way to good business.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Brexit my rse.

      >MAPLIN is not going bust because of Brexit

      Whilst I would agree, I can't help getting the feeling that banks et al in getting worried about Brexit and so are becoming very risk adverse and so pulling reducing their bad debt exposure and so are acting now to cap potential losses...

  47. adam 40
    Pint

    When I were a lad...

    >> The last time I went, I came away empty-handed as they had none of my usual stuff in stock. The few components they continued to sell were massively over-priced and no-one in their right mind would buy them. How about £2.49 for a single F-plug, when CPC or RS will sell you one for 16 pence? <<

    >> Sadly, that market got a bit thin <<

    Q.E.D.

    This is the trouble with modern business - the mantra is "expand or die". Why not just do what you do well, stay the same size, and employ your core staff comfortably?

    I remember when the OLD catalogue was just a pamphlet, and then suddenly the big thick one arrived with tissue paper, a revelation, back in 1974. And the debate about the copulating couple in the "DJ" section....

    Before that, in the days of BiPak, when you selected your components based on whether they attracted normal purchase tax, or luxury tax...

    Before that, when my local radio shop in Saffron Walden had the exact valve I needed for my oscilloscope, and then got boarded up for 30 years with all those Betamax recorders inside....

    And you try to tell the kids of today - they don't know they're born!

  48. Nifty

    While the criticism of Maplin & Toys R Us is fair enough, bear in mind that behind retail bricks and mortar is a highly capitalist retail rental industry that tries to maximise it's own income. And local authorities that see retail rates as an easy cash source. It takes a very long time for retail rents to fall when the market changes structurally. That makes retail in buildings an always-marginal business.

  49. psychonaut

    this is going to happen to every box shifter

    unless you add value to a product, simply selling someone else's stuff is going to be a non starter.

    if i am buying a thing, and i have done my internet research and decided i want thing model b456 then i dont care where i buy it from, i already know what i want to buy, so i'll buy it from the cheapest place / place with best return policy (currently amazon or john lewis by a loooong way).

    there are very few shops now where anyone actually knows anything about what they sell. they have rent, business rates, power, staff overheads etc, for which a warehouse full of the same things does not to the same extent.

    so you either have to be a VAR or be able to operate at massively reduced profits or go bust. this is already happening and i cant see it changing really.

  50. Ian Paul 1

    needed a memory backup capacitor for an old amp over Xmas , went to Maplin in Farnborough very helpful, walked away with a .047f 5.5v , just the job !

  51. steviebuk Silver badge

    Not surprised but...

    ...sad to see them go. But as people have said management are to blame with their stupid high prices. Thinking they'd be able to con non technical people into paying the high prices. What eventually happens is everyone warns them and they get bad rep.

    Sader to see Toys R Us go as have fun memories of them in the 80s. Walking down the aisle looking at all the Master System games and then checking the Star Wars figures. That's got to be another management problem here and the US. If Argos can survive Toys R Us should of.

  52. Linker3000

    Alternatives

    For anyone not sure where to go (or where they should probably have gone in the first place):

    https://www.reddit.com/r/AskElectronics/wiki/buying

  53. Torchy

    Hmmmm.......

    Wonders how much is missing from the pension pots of the employees.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good Riddance

    I worked at the company for several years and as a logical thinker, it always baffled me how the company was still trading. The company bought the cheapest Chinese crap it could get its hands on, repackaged it and sold it on for 1000% markup or more. The electronics range went gradually shrinking over the years, as it was slowly replaced with shitty toys, stupid stocking-filler disposable garbage gadgets and novelty items which broke the first time you used them. It became poundland. And the staff were treated no better than staff at poundland. Just a general disdain towards anyone with a brain, crabs in a bucket all vying for the position of regional manager (who seemed to change every 6 months as they were all shit). I'm not the least bit saddened by this news, it was in the cards from way back, it just took longer than expected for the tower to crumble. Good bloody riddance.

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