back to article Maplin shutdown sale prices still HIGHER than rivals

Closing-down sale posters are being plastered over the shop windows of moribund Brit 'leccy tat emporium Maplin Electronics, but even now the discounted goods can still be bought more cheaply from rivals. The Maplin administration team at PwC, appointed on 28 February, has so far failed to strike a deal to sell the retailer’s …

  1. caffeine addict Silver badge

    Hands up, everyone who is surprised the prices are still too high?

    No-one?

    ( Although, to be fair, comparing maplin prices to ebay is unfair. One gives you absolutely zero ongoing customer support or legal backup. And the other is ebay. )

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Support from Maplin ?

      so how much support do you think that Maplin will give you on kit that you buy from them today ?

      Dead companies do not give support -- which is part of the reason why the price as to be low enough to make the risk worth while.

      1. Alien8n Silver badge

        Re: Support from Maplin ?

        @Alaiin you may want to re-read the OP. That was the exact point made...

      2. Michael Strorm

        Re: Support from Maplin ?

        @Alain; As Alien8n already noted, that *was* the OP's point... but you also seem to have missed the point of the story itself. The closing-down prices really aren't "low" at all (#); still more expensive than many online outlets and thus hardly "low enough to make the risk worthwhile"!!

        (#) "Take the Western Digital 8TB My Cloud Home for example: it is being flogged by Maplin at £278.20 compared to £309 before the closing down sale began, but it is also available brand new from eBay for £254.99."

      3. quietreader

        Re: Support from Maplin ?

        In the Strand store (the one pictured, I thought I recognised it) on Sat, there were notices up in the window and instore stating that purchases made after a certain (earlier) date were not covered by anything other than statutory rights - and good luck getting them!

    2. boltar Silver badge

      "One gives you absolutely zero ongoing customer support or legal backup. And the other is ebay."

      The law gives you redress if its faulty so its irrelevant what a given shop provides in the way of consumer protection. Also ebay is full of scammers and junk. At least in a physical shop you can see what you're buying first and take it back the same day if it doesn't work instead of pissing about going down to the post office to send a parcel and hoping for a refund from some nameless person who might be a fraud (assuming you received the goods in the first place). Quite what the appeal of internet shopping - aka electronic mail order - is I've no idea. Mail order was crap 35 years ago when sending off a cheque to Sinclair and hoping something showed up, and its crap today.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        "The law gives you redress if its faulty so its irrelevant what a given shop provides in the way of consumer protection."

        Does it? Even if the retailer is bankrupt?

        1. boltar Silver badge

          "Does it? Even if the retailer is bankrupt?"

          Obviously not, I was talking in general just like the OP. However if you pay by credit card you are covered.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "However if you pay by credit card you are covered."

            For about 90 days usually...

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        "

        The law gives you redress if its faulty so its irrelevant what a given shop provides in the way of consumer protection.

        "

        "The law" provides no redress whatsoever. It can however compel *the retailer* to provide such redress. So long as the retailer is still in business ...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        WTF - are you over 60?

    3. Oh Homer
      Childcatcher

      Tandy it ain't

      I remember the halcyon days when Maplin was a slightly better Tandy: bigger, more stuff, more interesting stuff. A veritable Aladdin's cave for electronics geeks.

      Then it became PC World 2.0 with a few token electronics bits thrown in for good measure, and awful prices to match.

      Maplin is not only dead, it's long dead. It's just taken a couple of decades to bury its rotting corpse.

      There's a reason that private equity companies are known as vulture capitalists.

      1. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

        Re: Tandy it ain't @Oh Homer

        Got to take issue with the "I remember the halcyon days when Maplin was a slightly better Tandy:" line,

        Maplin in it's heyday was run by hobbyists and staffed by hobbyists in the shops, it was *much* better than Tandy, you could get valid opinions and valuable, accurate advice in stores and the catalogue was a work of art in many ways, not least the cover art.

        Then came along the investors and venture capitalists to suck as much profit and knowledge out of the company as they possibly could, the result was a drive to make the once great into something as bland and useless as any other retail park shed.

      2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Aladdin's cave

        I don't recall ever having a cave.

      3. Peter D

        Re: Tandy it ain't

        I gave up on Maplin when they stopped selling Ethernet cable by the metre with plugs so you could build the length you needed and were instead forced to buy vastly overpriced ready-made lengths.

    4. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Being unfamiliar with European and/or British consumer law, do consumer goods there not carry a statutory warranty? This ensures that, among other things, if the retailer that sold you the goods no longer exists, you can simply deal with the manufacturer (or local distributor) of the goods.

      1. Huw D

        In a complete about face...

        "Being unfamiliar with European and/or British consumer law, do consumer goods there not carry a statutory warranty? "

        Yes, they do.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: In a complete about face...

          Statutory warranty. Not in that sense. There are strong protections about the durability and fit-for-purpose of the goods. But the contract is with the retailers ( and/or credit card company where applicable). If the retailer goes the warranty goes. Unless the manufacturer chooses to give a warranty.

          1. Paul Shirley

            Re: In a complete about face...

            Even if you can claim against the manufacturer (a big IF), you'd struggle to even id the manufacturer of most of the tat they sell and fail completely to get those far east sweatshops to respond anyway.

      2. the spectacularly refined chap

        This ensures that, among other things, if the retailer that sold you the goods no longer exists, you can simply deal with the manufacturer (or local distributor) of the goods.

        No. Your contract is with the seller, not the manufacturer. Any warranty offered by the manufacturer continues to exist but that is separate to your statutory rights.

        OTOH once a company is in administration any subsequent transactions are underwritten by the administrator. You have reasonable legal protection now buying from Maplin: enhanced customer-service terms such as buyer's remorse provisions may well no longer apply but your statutory rights are watertight. Oddly enough, now they are in administration they'll have no problems getting credit insurance as a consequence.

        The difficulty arises for a transaction that occurred before administration but there is an issue to be addressed afterwards: in that case all bets are off.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Two of us have said this;

          "Your contract is with the seller, not the manufacturer. Any warranty offered by the manufacturer continues to exist but that is separate to your statutory rights.".

          I've quoted the other person's. That person got no votes, up or down. I got a down vote. For stating the simple truth. In the UK you have a contract, a civil contract, with the supplier. When that contract fails, because the supplier ceases to trade, you become just another creditor. And since the hierarchy of creditors runs, insolvency practice, government, preferred lenders (banks etc), everyone else there is little chance of getting redress from the insolvent supplier. You join the back of the queue.

          Unless you have a manufacturer's warranty that gives you the same protection ( it's unlikely to offer yo a refund). You can claim on a credit card against the card issuer if you paid for part or all of the item by card.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        do consumer goods there not carry a statutory warranty?:

        Yep, of up to 6 years. However your contract is with the retailer you purchased from, not the manufacturer. The manufacturers obligation is only any additional voluntary warranty that they might choose to offer.

  2. d3vy Silver badge

    "Maplin shut down sale prices still HIGHER than rivals"

    If anything this is probably one of the main reasons that they are closing down - people are savvy enough now to realise that if they can wait 24hours for delivery that they can save a decent amount of money..

    The maplin near me is next door to a PC world, Last year I needed a new external drive *same day* I saved £20 by walking next door (And PC world still ripped me off compared to the price online!)

    I'm sure that if maplin were competitive on price with online retailers that they would still be around now.

    That said, their AA rechargeable batteries were always good value - I might go and stock up!

    1. Mage Silver badge

      AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

      Really?

      I thought expensive.

      Maybe cheap compared to Tesco,

      1. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

        "Really?"

        Yeah they put them on offer quite frequently - Bought a few packs of 14 (which is an odd amount to supply in a pack) for £10 a while ago.

        Useful for remotes and xbox controls for the kids.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Holmes

          Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

          Useful for remotes and xbox controls for the kids.

          Oh really? I thought batteries where just pocket warmers. Thanks for the tip!

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Childcatcher

            Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

            "Useful for remotes and xbox controls for the kids."

            If I'd have only known that you could do a "Captain Cyborg" type hack to the kids (& by extension the wife), the last 28 years could have been a lot cheaper & quieter.

          2. d3vy Silver badge

            Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

            "Oh really? I thought batteries where just pocket warmers. Thanks for the tip!"

            No douche, it was an indication that cheap batteries have a specific use case over their more expensive counterparts or disposables.

            Its funny that people who KNOW they are being wankers always sign is as anon isnt it?

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

        Given I've not purchased any batteries since 2010, they were cheap compared to quality rechargeables such as Hahnel. Although in my box of circa 50 AA batteries(*), I do note that about 50% of the Maplin batteries have failed compared to ~10% of the Hahnel ones, 30% of the Ansmann & Jessop own label and ~80% of the more widely known high street brands (eg. Uniross, Energiser).

        (*) Large number due to using flashguns that eat rechargeables and having kids who toys could also eat batteries.

        > While I respect your attempts to avoid disposable batteries, considering your lossy use case you'd probably be better off with the disposable ones in the kiddie toys?

        Been there, no comparison: especially at Christmas, there is no real comparison between a 2800mAh rechargeable and a cheap multipack of Duracells from the discount shop.

        1. earl grey Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

          using flashguns

          Not as bad as popping in those flash bulbs and popping out a hot one into your hand.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

          "especially at Christmas, there is no real comparison between a 2800mAh rechargeable and a cheap multipack of Duracells from the discount shop."

          Agreed, but possibly not in the way you intended. I have lots of kids, and I had lots of rechargeable batteries. The problem was getting them to keep apart the newly charged and the ones that have lost charge by not having been charged for a few weeks or having been drained by heavy use. On Christmas afternoon the toy running on 3 fresh cells and one spent one doesn't perform to well, which is frustrating after having religiously recharged all the NiMh in the run up to Christmas to try to avid their inherent self discharge problems.

          Now I just buy big boxes of disposable batteries, and everyone is happy. Even me.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

            >The problem was getting them to keep apart the newly charged and the ones that have lost charge by not having been charged for a few weeks or having been drained by heavy use.

            This problem... :)

            For the very young it is handy the battery compartment tends to have a fiddly screw lock requiring Dad's attention...

            For the not so young, my son has discovered the importance of not mixing used and charged batteries in the Xbox controllers and thus labelled two clip top containers: Charged & Dead...

            Also a 4 battery fast recharger doesn't take up much space - important when Christmas has to fit in the car as it is spent at the grandparents :)

            FYI I think the investment I made in AA rechargeables back in 2004 was the correct one - for the pocket and ease of use when shops are closed or I can't be bothered to go out, given how frequently the charger is on...

            One thing I did omit, none of the C sized rechargeable batteries have stood the test of time, probably because they weren't used as much. Neither have the AAA sized, in part because whilst they work in telephone handsets they don't seem to last in toys or other appliances (eg. TV remotes) where they aren't constantly being recharged. So for battery sizes other than AA, I still buy conventional batteries...

          2. Paul Shirley

            Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

            "especially at Christmas, there is no real comparison between a 2800mAh rechargeable and a cheap multipack of Duracells from the discount shop."

            My experience is there was no real comparison between a Maplin 2800mAh rechargeable and a rechargeable with 2800mAh capacity after the 1st cycle. Probably not even before then.

        3. Paul Shirley

          Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

          Some of the poorest quality cells I've ever bought and consistently bad.

      3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

        Really?

        I thought expensive.

        Maybe cheap compared to Tesco,

        But sometimes the standard rechargable just won't work. I have a digital camera that stubbornly fails with rechargables, and doesn't even care for your standard disposable either (and I'm not talking "dollar store" batteries). I find the ones it prefers are "photo batteries"; I'm presuming there's something to do with discharge rates (especially when using flash) that kills regular disposables, and rechargables simply can't do.

        1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

          Aren't most rechargeable AA and AAA batteries 1.2V instead of the 1.5V from disposable batteries?

          That's why many gadgets complain that the batteries are low very soon after putting them in, but keep on going for a long while anyway.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

            >Aren't most rechargeable AA and AAA batteries 1.2V instead of the 1.5V from disposable batteries?

            Yes, this can cause problems, there are various articles around the web, below is one I found from a quick search.

            http://www.electronicswarehouse.com.au/blog/lower-voltage-in-rechargeable-batteries/

            I actually found the big issue was that rechargeable AA's tended to be slightly larger than disposable so were either a tighter fit in the battery compartment or didn't fit it at all.

            Given how long rechargeables have been around, I suspect very few gadgets designed in the last 15 years exhibit this problem. Certainly, I've not encountered any devices that won't work with rechargeables, including those the manufacturer say aren't suitable for rechargeables.

            One thing I've noted more with rechargeables is with the flashgun (uses 4xAA). If I haven't used the flashgun for a while, with rechargeables, I can expect the first set to drain very quickly. However, with the disposables, because of the different discharge characteristics the first set seems to last longer, until you measure the flash cycle time and realise that it has grown longer. Additionally, with rechargeables, I get greater consistency of cycles - useful when taking pictures in rapid succession, before they quickly die.

          2. TheVogon Silver badge

            Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

            "Aren't most rechargeable AA and AAA batteries 1.2V instead of the 1.5V from disposable batteries?"

            Standard rechargeable batteries are a pretty steady ~ 1.2 volts for most of their life even at high currents. Versus disposable batteries that rapidly drop in voltage - especially under load. So if you care about voltage over the lifetime of the battery, rechargeable are likely a better bet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm sure that if maplin were competitive on price with online retailers that they would still be around now.

      That's true, but not terribly helpful. If they were an on-line only retailer they'd have the same relatively low cost base of other online retailers, but then they wouldn't be a bricks and mortar retailer with a wide geographic footprint. And for on-line only we've already got people like Farnell and RS, a range of smaller specialists, not to mention Amazon skimming the non-specialist market, aided and abetted by that company's devious tax avoidance.

      There's no way for a high street retailer to compete with online sales, because of business rates, sales staff costs & the support overheads, property lease costs, and the low turnover per square foot of a retail outlet. My local Maplin has/had a business rates bill of about £50,000 a year for a large retail park unit. Staff costs I'd guess at 4 FTE, so fully loaded for corporate costs that's £120,000, lease costs I'd guess at £200,000 a year for this location, plus utilities, insurance, maintenance, etc that I'll guess at £30k, giving me a neat round £400k a year for one retail park store. That's £400k extra that Farnell or RS don't have to factor in. It's over a thousand quid a day in this store that on average probably only sells about a thousand quid of product a day....

      1. Shaha Alam

        woah woah, slow down, it's not like online distributors dont have any costs. they still have staffing, warehouse, distribution, utilities, packing, support, management, marketing. its not the same cost base, for sure, and is likely cheaper (hence the competitive advantage, you've stated), but it still comes with it's own set of costs.

        1. Duffaboy

          Really

          Faceless warehouse with minimal staff paid on zero hour contracts at the minimum wage.

          1. d3vy Silver badge

            Re: Really

            "Faceless warehouse with minimal staff paid on zero hour contracts at the minimum wage."

            You realise that these businesses are not just warehouses dont you?

          2. boltar Silver badge

            Re: Really

            "Faceless warehouse with minimal staff paid on zero hour contracts at the minimum wage."

            Thats ok, so long as people can get their cheap tat without having to get their fat backsides off the sofa they could be chained slaves in those warehouses for all they care.

            1. Keith Caley

              Re: Really

              ..."they could be chained slaves in those warehouses for all they care."

              Shades of Breaking Bad!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          RS have 16 over the counter locations in the UK

          And they are an FTSE company operating worldwide with revenue of 1.5 beellllion pounds

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          woah woah, slow down, it's not like online distributors dont have any costs. they still have staffing, warehouse, distribution, utilities, packing, support, management, marketing.

          Too true, but I was looking only at the EXTRA costs of a bricks and mortar retailer.

          Maplin still needed warehousing, stock control, picking, warehouse-to-store logistics, not to mention the costs of their own dismal online presence. Warehouse to store logistics will be cheaper than warehouse to consumer, but then there's other costs of retail outlets like "shrinkage" that probably offset the lower logistics costs of bricks and mortar.

        4. Peter D

          "woah woah, slow down, it's not like online distributors dont have any costs. they still have staffing, warehouse, distribution, utilities, packing, support, management, marketing..."

          Costs? Try renting a shop on the Strand then come back and talk about costs.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        It's like nobody learned a lesson from the Jessops story.

        1. Mike Richards Silver badge

          Jessops shops are back in some parts of the UK, and it is still more expensive than the competition. How it continues as a business is a complete mystery to me.

          1. graeme leggett

            I once bought a PVR (Daewoo brand. Yep surprised me too) from Jessops online presence.

            Quite a good machine at the time and best price around. Served me well for quite a while before being supplanted by Mrs L's Skybox

            Reminds me I ought to open it up and see if there's any residual use in the hard drive before sending it to recycle.

            1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
              Flame

              "I once bought a PVR (Daewoo brand. Yep surprised me too) from Jessops online presence."

              THEYRE NOT CALLED PVRS!!!

              well, they were called that , then presumably someone realised that the idea of introducing the word "Personal" to indicate that the recording was now digital and on a hard drive was a meaningless, not to mention fucking stupid idea.

          2. Allan 1

            As an amature photographer, I would rather deal with Jessops, or LCE, who have bricks and mortar outlets, than take a risk buying a £2000 camera from Amazon, and having the delivery scally steal it. Plus if you keep an eye on Jessops sales, you can quite often get good kit, very cheaply.

      3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        "My local Maplin has/had a business rates bill of about £50,000 a year for a large retail park unit."

        No wonder the high street is going out of business! 50k per year , just for permission to be there from the council. Not rent . permission. Al Capone would be proud.

        1. joeldillon

          I mean, only in the sense your council tax is 'permission to live in your house'. There's a reason it's called 'rates', just as the predecessor to council tax was.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            I mean, only in the sense your council tax is 'permission to live in your house'. There's a reason it's called 'rates', just as the predecessor to council tax was.

            Yeah , I get what it is . Its the amount I find surprising. If my council tax was £50,000 I'd be struggling.

            I guess presently our Council tax is subsided by these extortionate business rates , so as the high street inevitably shuts down , in no small part due to this , our council tax will have to go up , as every council in the country is always pleading poverty .

        2. ridley

          I am surprised that it is 50k a year for a "large retail park unit", that seems far lower than I was expecting. Not saying it is good or anything but when, 20 years ago, I was looking for a smallish shop on a high street with a one way street with no parking they wanted 26k a year rates, plus the same in rent.

          This is a high street in a town with little footfall as there are out of town retail parks locally.

          I declined.

          It is no wonder the high street is dying, rent and rates on shops are unsustainable in the internet age.

      4. d3vy Silver badge

        @Ledswinger

        Thats just wrong though isnt it, because plenty of places have bricks and mortar shops and price match with online retailers.

        Not just in IT either Go outdoors has a policy where you can hand them a item at the till and say "Its cheaper on site xyz" and a few minutes later you get the item at the online price.

        PC world also do it for *some* items.

        I'd also point out that online retailers still have physical buildings holding their stock - they employ more pickers and packers and have higher distribution costs than companies like maplin supplying primerally though physical shops. Im also certain that online retailers have to pay a shit load more in IT costs than companies like Maplin.

        My original comment was that if they lowered their prices they would have probably sold more - higher quantity of sales with a lower margin is preferable to high margin with almost no sales.

        1. rh587 Bronze badge

          Im also certain that online retailers have to pay a shit load more in IT costs than companies like Maplin.

          Considering Maplin also offered online ordering/delivery and therefore had associated warehousing/picking/posting/IT costs... probably not.

          To be honest, modern logistics requires a hefty amount of IT. Whether you're taking orders from a website and posting out boxes of picked product, or taking orders from retail stores and replenishing their shelves makes very little difference.

      5. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "Staff costs I'd guess at 4 FTE"

        Perhaps, but helpful staff seem to be few and far between, which means that regulars started going elsewhere a long time ago and their recommendations had a direct effect on other purchases.

        Dale Carnegie's maxim on negative experiences holds true even today.

        In any case, unlike RS or Farnell, Maplins turned into a cheap gadget shop a long time ago, but unlike the average cheap tat shop they weren't cheap. As such (Like PeaSeeWhirled) they became the supplier of last resort on a Sunday afternoon when you absolutely needed something today.

        I'm surprised they lasted this long. It's clear they've been on life support and the _only_ viable way forward would have been downsizing back to being a mailorder business with a counter at the warehouse.

      6. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

        All valid comments but that's where they went very wrong, they went big when they should have gone small, at least for retail locations.

        A small outlet with a big profile would have worked a lot better and cost a lot less.

        The retail should have been backed up by an efficient mail order business, I'd have happily paid a small premium to have good quality items delivered next day, unfortunately for Maplin I wasn't happy to pay a massive premium, that pricing made it acceptable to buy bulk from China and wait a couple of weeks or less for delivery so Maplin lost my business to China and RS, CPC, Farnell and a few other mail order companies who specialise in things like RF components.

        Competing against pound stores two doors away by selling the exact same items for a tenner was never, ever, going to work but the cynical side of me might consider the idea that it was never meant to, instead that it was some kind of financial manipulation tactic which will be quietly exposed in a year or two when the administrators have ploughed through it all.

    3. paulf Silver badge
      FAIL

      @ d3vy "That said, their AA rechargeable batteries were always good value - I might go and stock up!"

      Did I miss a <sarc> tag? Their Rechargeables (IME, YMMV) were a bunch of crap which was unfortunate as it was one of the few things I went in there for. I bought loads of them over the years but stopped when the occasional failure became a routine thing. I found they lasted perhaps 4-6 years from purchase but no more than 100 or so charge cycles (if that!). You might think 4-6 years is about right for a NiMH but I have Uniross rechargeables from about 2000 (yes 18 years old) still working in daily use and I'm sure they've long exceeded their specified limit of 1000 cycles.

      1. d3vy Silver badge

        @PaulF

        I suspect our use cases differ - I buy the batteries for the kids to put in toys and XBox controls and the like - I'd be shocked if half of the ones that I bought last year were still in the house having been lost at friends houses and accidentally being thrown out unthinkingly when flat!

        1. paulf Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          @d3vy Perhaps. I expect them to last long enough so that cost per charge over the life of the battery is significantly lower than disposable batteries. That's probably not happened with some of them I bought whereas the Uniross ones work out at fractions of a penny per charge. IIRC the Maplin ones worked out at about £1.25-£1.50 each to buy whereas you can get 30 branded AA batteries in one of the DIY sheds for less than £9 (and probably cheaper elsewhere). While I respect your attempts to avoid disposable batteries, considering your lossy use case you'd probably be better off with the disposable ones in the kiddie toys?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: The maplin near me is next door to a PC world

      Battery park ?

    5. Andy 68

      people are savvy enough now to realise....

      I think the Maplin bosses needed to have a talk with the Screwfix management.

      They manage just fine. Presumably at least partly because their rates must be significantly lower, being mostly on light industrial estates rather than in retail parks.

    6. Tony Haines

      //The maplin near me is next door to a PC world, Last year I needed a new external drive *same day* I saved £20 by walking next door (And PC world still ripped me off compared to the price online!)//

      Funnily enough I did that this year, but with the stores reversed. Maplin was cheaper than PC world - not by £20, but by a bit.

      No, I didn't take the extra insurance they offered.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >//The maplin near me is next door to a PC world, Last year I needed a new external drive *same day* I saved £20 by walking next door (And PC world still ripped me off compared to the price online!)//

        I've tended to do it the other way round! See it cheaper in PC World/Tescos/Asda and ask Maplin to price match, in part because Maplin do sell some stuff you can't get at PC World etc. and hence I didn't really want to go back and purchase what I could in one store from three stores...

        Naturally, I make full use of the on-line click&collect service, that way I can get the online price before I walk into a store and see what store specific offers they may have.

        Also following the logic "if you don't use it, lose it", I help Maplin get some revenue rather than zero revenue, whereas there are plenty of customers already giving money to PC World etc. (as this shutdown proves).

  3. Dave 126 Silver badge

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/business/dads-hold-candlelight-vigil-for-maplin-20180301145163

    "BRITAIN’S fathers are in mourning for Maplin, the electronics retailer where they kept their dreams of drones and integrated USB sockets alive.

    As the troubled chain went into administration, middle-aged men showed their support outside its shops with candles, prayers and discussions about whether gold-plated banana plugs really offered improved audio fidelity.

    Father-of-two Martin Bishop said: “Please God, don’t let Maplin be taken away from me. Where will I browse external hard drives now?"

    1. Christopher Rogers

      It stings how close to the truth this is.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        a nice illustration of how the mash works . i might give it a go now

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There's a Simpson's episode where (I assume) Homer goes missing and Lisa organises a search with Bart saying "we need to look in places where sad lonely men gather - I'll check the Library and you try Radio Shack".

        ... anyway, there's still Halfords!

  4. Bill M

    I remember Maplins from when I was a kiddie

    When I was a kiddie I used to buy components from Maplins like transistors, resistors & capacitors and make things like radios and electric guitar effect pedals.

    I loved browsing through their catalogue.

    I am no expert on them but would think that early on most of their business was mail order which could have been easily migrated to internet sales. It is really sad they did not successfully make that transition and ended up selling overpriced tat in shops.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I remember Maplins from when I was a kiddie

      Maplin catalogues were great. Some of the covers had futuristic, spaced-themed scenes, designed by Lionel Jeans.

      I seem to also remember they had an electronic BBS on dial-up that you could use to place orders.

    2. DJV Silver badge

      Re: I remember Maplins from when I was a kiddie

      Ah yes, still got a catalogue from the 1970s around somewhere - full of projects, examples and useful information. Now THAT version of Maplins would have been worth saving.

    3. Bill M

      Re: I remember Maplins from when I was a kiddie

      I made a guitar fuzz box by deliberately overloading a 741 integrated circuit operational amplifier to create distortion. This was the first silicon chip I ever used and I got it from Maplins. IC 741 op amps are still manufactured and used to this day.

    4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: I remember Maplins from when I was a kiddie

      I am no expert on them but would think that early on most of their business was mail order which could have been easily migrated to internet sales. It is really sad they did not successfully make that transition and ended up selling overpriced tat in shops.

      I do find it surprising (or perhaps sad) that so many stores that had made their start and fame in the "mail-order" business were later unable to handle internet sales (yes, Sears, looking at you).

  5. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Fail

    I noticed this saturday. A Western Digital hard drive is £150 at Maplin on special (closing down) offer, but £70ish from Amazon when i last tried to buy one.

  6. aenikata

    Paying over the odds for less protection than normal...

    If you guy from a company that's going out of business then I doubt you'd have much joy with the Consumer Rights Act - when that expensive gadget fails you won't have a seller to return the item to for a refund or repair.

    There's various things that they stock that I'm interested in, but they've long been relatively expensive for such items even compared to stock available for next-day delivery, meaning that I was mainly likely to buy from them if I needed something that same day. If their prices were closer to competitive then impatience may have won out more often, or confidence in returns, but really they lost their place in the market through not making it compelling to use their stores despite higher prices.

    The problem with their approach for clearing stock is that people are going to be wary of buying knowing they'll get no after-sales support at all, so charging the going uncompetitive prices just leaves things unsold. Given how fast tech stock depreciates it's just throwing away the significant value of that stock. Presumably while the liquidators running that fiasco are pocketing premium fees for their oversight... someone's getting a decent amount out of the assets of Maplins, and you can bet it's not the suppliers and other existing creditors.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Paying over the odds for less protection than normal...

      If you guy from a company that's going out of business then I doubt you'd have much joy with the Consumer Rights Act - when that expensive gadget fails you won't have a seller to return the item to for a refund or repair.

      If its over £100 then buyers would be fools not to use a credit card. Doesn't matter then if the retailer isn't around, because the credit card company are jointly liable.

      https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/section-75-of-the-consumer-credit-act

    2. xanda
      Unhappy

      Re: Paying over the odds for less protection than normal...

      ...If their prices were closer to competitive then impatience may have won out more often...

      It seems you're onto something, although we hate to say it...

      We might add that buying off the web is fast returning to the wild west it once was in the not too distant past. Others have said here how there is more security/back-up on the likes of eBay, Amazon et al but that's not been our experience lately.

      In recent times our dealings have left more than a sour taste in the mouth. There are too many dodgy sellers with the platforms in question 'enforcing' obfuscated/erroneous returns procedures seemingly designed to stall for maximum time wastage when it comes to what otherwise should be straightforward returns.

      We were starting to come round again to the thought of perhaps returning to the high street, even if it meant paying a slight premium. Maplin (amongst others) could have tapped into this sooner perhaps and thus saved their sorry fate; although in fairness they - like many others - are probably another victim to the seriously high costs of doing business in bricks and mortar.

      It's a shame because we liked Maplin.

      1. .stu

        Re: Paying over the odds for less protection than normal...

        I too liked Maplin, and would regularly buy from them at bargain prices compared to Currys and Amazon. Things such as Philips Hue bulbs, SmartThings devices, wifi access points and the like. Amazon regularly price-matched them, which the will no longer need to do.

        I know it's fashionable now to slag off Maplin, and yes some of their prices were ludicrous, but they were no more guilty of it than any other retailer, and there were plenty of bargains to be had if you did your homework. It saddens me that even el reg has nothing better to offer than write articles like this; it's just lazy journalism to be honest and wouldn't be out of place in the likes of the Daily Mail.

        Just wait until Amazon have a stranglehold on online retailing, then you will see their real face I do not trust them one bit with their prime-only deals, and their policy of banning you and your family for life if you take advantage of your legal rights under the distance-selling regulations once too often.

      2. VooDooMonkey

        Re: Paying over the odds for less protection than normal...

        @xanda If you have problems with a seller on Amazon or eBay just ignore their 'returns policy' - just deal with PayPal/Amazon/whoever else handled the transaction. First off, the law trumps any made up 'returns policies' these sellers may have and secondly, in 99% of cases PayPal will take the side of the buyer.

    3. Huw D
      Trollface

      Re: Paying over the odds for less protection than normal...

      "If you guy from a company"

      How are the ventriloquism lessons going?

  7. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    High prices? Well PWC have to make their fees...

    ... no doubt the creditors will be in for a difficult time. PWC not so much...

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: High prices? Well PWC have to make their fees...

      Ten percent of nothing is—let me do the math here. Nothing into nothin’. Carry the nothin’.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: High prices? Well PWC have to make their fees...

        A singular math? How does that even work? Do you just do the first sum and ignore the rest?

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: High prices? Well PWC have to make their fees...

          Don't blame me, blame Joss Whedon.

      2. Steven Raith

        Re: High prices? Well PWC have to make their fees...

        I get that reference!

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: High prices? Well PWC have to make their fees...

          I didn't get it.

          I got a divide by zero error.

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: High prices? Well PWC have to make their fees...

          "I get that reference!"

          Shiny

  8. jms222

    Not all

    They have a few things selling cheaply. I have just bought a branded component for repairing something, for a third of the price Farnell and others sell it for.

    When I say bought I mean shown in stock paid for local collection.

  9. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

    I'll wait.

    Give it a fortnight and the prices will be cut again.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    50% off components

    Had a walk around our local branch on the weekend, nothing on offer tempted me. Tat is tat.

    However, less well advertised is the 50% off components and cut to length cable. That makes them pretty good value for various passives and some of the very few semiconductors they still carry. I've stocked up on various bits and bobs. Probably my first Maplin order in over 20 years, and almost certainly my last.

    So long, and thanks for all the chips! RIP.

    1. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: 50% off components

      I’ll pop over there at the weekend, if they’re still open. I feel the need for some transistors, patch wire, caps, resistors and other bits and bobs to restock my projects box. If they’re cheap enough, anyway.

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    WTF?

    How Strange

    On Sunday I bought an Akai MPKmini from them for £60. Amazon were selling them for £74.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Re: How Strange

      Maplin must have messed up and accidentally underpriced it.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: How Strange

        Occasionally in the last few years I did get the odd bargain for stuff that wasn't junk.

        Also true in PC World.

        Once even in Hardly Normal's, a nice Toshiba HDTV because it was older stock (no ethernet, loads of video in options and fatter with CCFL backlight giving a more even and better white than cheaper LED TVS, some of which have edge based LEDs.

    2. ForthIsNotDead

      Re: How Strange

      Don't shout about it! Maplin will want their missing £14 off you ;-)

  12. fluffybunnyuk

    I put my order in today to another electronics components retailer for £150 worth of parts (about 400 pieces). Was still £72 cheaper than Maplin after clearance discount was applied.Sad

    I miss the electronics specialist who used to say things like "if you use this 8-pin DIL rather than that one you'll get a better result..."

    Its amazed me that the more electronics has become a fabric of our culture, the less stores are commonly available. Maybe this goes hand in hand with the dumbing down in society, and the lack of desire to understand how things work.

    1. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

      Disposable society.

      If something breaks there is no longer a want to repair it, just to throw it away and get shiny new.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Its amazed me that the more electronics has become a fabric of our culture, the less stores are commonly available.

      I don't think it is all that surprising. Once upon a time (decades ago now) an understanding of electronics down to component level was not all that difficult to achieve. Now? With many components having an awful lot of legs things have become much harder; add to that the challenges of surface - mount and DIY electronics has ceased to be a subject that is readily accessible to many (most?) people.

      Shame, really, but I suspect that it is a downside of progress.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        With many components having an awful lot of legs things have become much harder; add to that the challenges of surface - mount and DIY electronics has ceased to be a subject that is readily accessible to many (most?) people.

        Discrete components, basic logic chips, prototyping board etc are still readily available; you don't have to do everything on surface mount PCBs and using complex chips. However the kind of projects that electronics hobbyists used to do in hardware has largely been supplanted by some Python code running on a Raspberry Pi with some off-the-shelf interface parts. I'm not sure if that is progress.

    3. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Part of it

      Its amazed me that the more electronics has become a fabric of our culture, the less stores are commonly available. Maybe this goes hand in hand with the dumbing down in society, and the lack of desire to understand how things work.

      Well, in most cases when you think you might be able to fix the device, armed with the level of knowledge you expect will be required, it will furiously resist being opened up, then, if you manage to overcome that, will even more furiously resist troubleshooting due to lack of documentation and adequate test gear, and finally, having found the problem component despite the hurdles posed by the previous steps, it will turn out it's a HXC42276 rev.2bc made by Yum Cha Super Victorious Enterprises, a 169-pin BGA chip. The only three references to this part found on the Internet are your own search for this item, and two 'component suppliers' who claim to be able to sell you the HXC42276 rev.2a (a 144-pin PGA), only in quantities of 1000+ and for an undisclosed price, but with a lead time of 48 hours which they similarly claim for all the parts they sell, which includes OC72 transistors and AZ3 rectifier tubes (all brand new, and again in quantities of 1000+ only).

      In other words, the gigantic proliferation of special-purpose ICs has made it as good as impossible even for a decent brick-and-mortar store to stock the parts that could satisfy the requirements of repairing common household electronics. Unlike 30 or more years ago.

    4. Arty Effem

      "I miss the electronics specialist who used to say things like "if you use this 8-pin DIL rather than that one you'll get a better result...""

      Just wouldn't want to end up on holiday with him.

  13. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "But the repeated leveraged buy-outs of Maplin by private equity players was arguably where the rot first set in, leaving it with high debts and owners that wanted to milk the firm for all they could."

    el Reg needs to give up the vulture logo. These guys are the real vultures.

    1. jonathan keith

      That should be the actual takeaway from this: that in the longer term, debt-funded private equity buyouts almost always destroy the business.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Coat

        That should be the actual takeaway from this: that in the longer term, debt-funded private equity buyouts almost always destroy the business.

        Is that a relation of the debt funded private finance initiative schemes that we will be paying off into the distant future?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > el Reg needs to give up the vulture logo. These guys are the real vultures.

      Vultures normally at least have the common courtesy to wait for their prey to be dead first before feasting on it.

      Private equity firms are more of a necrotising fasciitis.

  14. SVV Silver badge

    seven out of eight products can be procured more cheaply on the Interweb

    To be honest, this isn't really news is it? Just too small to compete with the slightly bigger chains who could bulk buy more cheaply. Who are already probably realising that whoever is now on the smallest remaing level will be next....... and so on up the pecking order...... until what are we left with after physical retail has all but disappeared? Most probably Amazon and the reseller sites where kit of non-verified provenance can be disposed of "more cheaply than at xyz" as your (and everyone else's) Google searches will show.

    However, I always liked them, from the days when soldering irons were still widely used in anger (and it was often anger), to more recent years when I worked at a place near one, and could pop round the corner to just buy stuff there and then when it was needed - I realise this was not a choice for nearly everone else by the way.

    So where do we go from here? Is it really now a choice between Amazon and ordering direct from manufacturers, with risk of abuse of monopoly power ever present? Any upstarts trying to break the huge monopolies being ruthlessly squashed before prices are ramped up hugely again? We consumers may not end up benefitting as much as many think we will in the end, if efficiency and economies of scale can be so great that all competition is stifled.

  15. Nicholas Nada

    70s Catalogue Covers

    I love the sci-fi covers their catalogues had back in the 70s.

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=maplin+70s+catalogue+covers&num=40&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwibhtOE4uvZAhXqAMAKHeopDLsQ_AUICigB&biw=1280&bih=829

    (excuse the Google image search link, it's the only collection of images my work PC will let me access!)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 70s Catalogue Covers

      Oh boy, can't believe I never thought to search for those before. One glance and I'm instantly transported back to my bedroom in the early 90s! 1991 especially powerful for some reason. It's like for a moment just looking at that old cover, the world was briefly full of excitement and wonder and opportunity again. Wow that was unexpected.

      Now I feel sad for Maplin all over again :(

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 70s Catalogue Covers

        One glance and I'm instantly transported back to my bedroom in the early 90s

        I think you opened the wrong tab.

    2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: 70s Catalogue Covers

      1987's cover seems to be rather ironic in context.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "PwC has not yet indicated any timeframe for shuttering the 2,335 Maplin outlets across the UK"

    No wonder they're expensive, they spread themselves pretty thinly given that number of outlets...

  17. Mike Pellatt

    2335 outlets ??

    Apart from the repeated leveraged buyouts, the increasingly LQT, and the painful greetings on entering the store, whilst I studiously avoided eye contact, that's your problem right there.

    Over 2000 stores ?? How could that ever, ever be justifiable for the stuff they sell ? According to Wikipedia, even Currys only has 295 superstores and 73 high street stores.

    Oh, hang on, Wikipedia says only 218 stores. Still crazy high if you compare to Currys.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2335 outlets ??

      Oh, hang on, Wikipedia says only 218 stores.

      So allowing for a low level of web sales, Maplin sold on average about a million quid of tat per store. That's less than half the minimum viable sales for the sort of location and store they seem to prefer.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: 2335 outlets ??

      Looks to have been a typo; the article now says "PwC has not yet indicated any timeframe for shuttering the 200 outlets across the UK"

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: 2335 outlets ??

        PCW like their typos - given the number of companies they audit as in good health - and months later they collapse with massive debts but healthy auditor fees and top management walk away financially unscathed (plump with cash usually)

  18. Lee D Silver badge

    Interesting that nobody else is interested in their stores, even for another retail store.

    Maybe the high street really is dead nowadays.

    Though, if my old road is anything to go by, it'll be a bookies or a pharmacy before long (four bookies and three pharmacies on one quite-small row of shops!).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Interesting that nobody else is interested in their stores, even for another retail store.

      Previous occupant of the unit that is/was my local Maplin was Blockbuster. It'd be a brave business to take on that unit.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Previous occupant of the unit that is/was my local Maplin was Blockbuster. It'd be a brave business to take on that unit.

        Is that the one in Bristol by any chance?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No, it is Redditch, but I'm not surprised if there's several Once-Were-Blockbusters like this in the Maplin estate - when a retail chain goes bust, if the lease has been capitalised and pre-paid (or the obligation will come out of the residual of the business) the administrator tries to find somebody to take on the lease, and chunks of the portfolio tend to be acquired by the same company. A variant with a similar outcome is where a commercial landlord owns (say) the freehold of 30 units occupied by the bust business, and tries to offer that as a cheap package deal to somebody else who is believed to be willing to expand. You'll have seen this with former Woolworths and BHS sites.

          Of course, with Toys R Us deservedly shutting, there's going to be more retail park space than takers, though.

      2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Previous occupant of the unit that is/was my local Maplin was Blockbuster. It'd be a brave business to take on that unit.

        I've seen some locations like that. There's a department store in what was the county's first mall, had three different department stores in it, and all three chains went bankrupt. Heck, the entire mall itself died, and they demolished the main section in the middle to build a HomeCrappo. These days the old department store is a postal sorting center (what chance of THAT going bankrupt?)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Maybe the high street really is dead nowadays."

      The pressure now is to convert high street shops into housing. In recent years I have seen several local business sites razed and replaced by apartment blocks several storeys high.

      The old established family businesses' shops are generally sandwiched in an ancient terrace row - so they have been converted to pubs, chain restaurants, and takeaways.

      No doubt their customers are the London commuters who have taken the new apartments. They moved because they couldn't afford to live in London any more. The locals can't afford to buy/rent the new apartments - so are being pushed out to more distant areas - and then commuting back for work.

  19. Anonymous Noel Coward
    Pint

    I used to shop at Maplin every so often, but once I found out I could get stuff cheaper from Amazon... well...

    You know how the story ends.

    1. jeffdyer

      You're part of the problem.

      1. Anonymous Noel Coward
        Headmaster

        Whoa jeffdyer, you spelled solution wrong. But don't worry, I've got you covered.

        1. jeffdyer

          No. Every retail outlet that is not Amazon will go bust unless people wake up and smell the coffee.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Shouldn't that be the case with stores that have terrible customer service and charge extortinate amounts of money for goods and services?

            1. jeffdyer

              Yes, but it's a circle. Maplin hasn't always been like this. But once sales start to fall, wages can't be maintained. Experienced start leave. Prices are kept elevated to try to keep up the income. A vicious circle.

          2. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

            No. Every retail outlet that is not Amazon will go bust unless THE OWNERS/MANAGEMENT wake up and smell the coffee.

            FTFY

            1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

              People will not pay for service, by and large. There will always be a premium for bricks and mortar shops unless they're far out of the way, or they're very lucky with rent (Scan do ok, because they have one shop open on restricted hours, outside a retail park, and at least two warehouses to stock their predominantly mail order business).

              It isn't just Maplin who stock expensive cables - almost much all retail outlets (with the exception of Poundland, and possibly Clas Ohlson ) are pricey, and that should tell you something.

              Prices at Amazon are also increasing incidentally.

              A lot of the more independent stores are on historic favourable rents; their building then gets re-developed, the rent doubles, and the only business that can afford it are the large corporates, leading to a sanitised high street. Rinse and repeat.

              1. tiggity Silver badge

                Indeed. The local super wealthy family near me are rolling in cash because they own lots of commercial property and make shed loads from rent - theres quitre a turnover as many small businesses give it a go and find exorbitant rents make it impossible to make a living on anything other than very high margin / turnover situation. The building owners do not care as another sucker will be along sooner or later and the hefty cash stream will flow again.

                Then again no better for residential rents, they are ludicrously high, we really need a return to fair rent legislation

            2. jeffdyer

              Yeah. Blame someone else as usual. The answer is "use it or lose it".

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Every retail outlet that is not Amazon will go bust unless people wake up and smell the coffee."

            Too late for that

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "No. Every retail outlet that is not Amazon will go bust unless people wake up and smell the coffee."

            Ok, that will keep Starbucks in business ... what about the rest?

          5. jelabarre59 Silver badge

            No. Every retail outlet that is not Amazon will go bust unless people wake up and smell the coffee.

            Yeah, but at this rate all the coffee shops will be StarSucks, and I don't *want* to smell their coffee...

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      I used to shop at Maplin every so often, but once I found out I could get stuff cheaper from Amazon... well...

      You know how the story ends.

      But often the brick&mortar stores can't be arsed to actually STOCK anything in their stores anymore. If I have a more immediate need for a part, or simply don't want to wait for it (especially if there wouldn't be somebody home to receive the shipment) it's worth the extra cost to pick it up at retail. Especially if the shipping charges would bring the cost up to the retail price anyway.

      But all too often I'll look for something in a store and they'll say "oh, we don't stock that, you can get it from our website". At which point I'll say "If I have to buy it online, there's plenty of places CHEAPER than you".

  20. Timmy B Silver badge

    Sad Really...

    Some ineffective competition for Amazon is better than none at all. I rarely bought anything from there but when I needed that one thing they wouldn't have anywhere else and I need it on a Sunday morning for some project or other then they were great. Expensive in the main but great.

    1. Mike Pellatt

      Re: Sad Really...

      But woe betide you if you have an address that's hard to find (esp by the cowboys they use for Prime delivery)

      Told them at least 10 times how to find us. One guy who did a superb job finding us all by himself then spent 10 minutes talking to Amazon Control Central and told me our place was now on their geolocation and there would be no further difficulties.

      Hahahaha

      So bad, I default to delivery to the nearest pickup point (a 5 mile drive away) as it's easier on my blood pressure. No use for anything other than small items, of course.

  21. Duffaboy

    One of the reasons they have failed.

    Too many stores, prices too high they may just survive as an online presence

    1. rmason Silver badge

      Re: One of the reasons they have failed.

      I think it's too late for them to even survive as online only.

      Their "bread and butter" customers had already stopped even bothering to check the price of [thing] in maplins. Because the previous times they have checked they have found maplins price to be the worst every_single_time.

      My dad (and me) were both always in need of something or other for a project, when your previous 100 "price checks" resulted in a chuckle and an order from ebay/china/amazon/random website, you eventually stop even bothering and just let the mighty google do it's thing and produce you the same item, at a far better price.

      the last little LED display we needed for something Dad was working on was pence on ebay and pounds in maplins.

      Literally something like 99p inc postage for a pack of three Vs maplins at over 3 quid + fuel and time going to maplins for one.

      Their sole use was when you needed something *NOW* and there was a maplins nearby. Everyone else present was showrooming stuff before buying elsewhere, or going in simply because there was a maplins on the same estate as the shop they needed, and the kids dragged them in because of the flashing lights, electric toy cars out the front and the drone being flown by bored sales staff.

  22. jb99

    Price was only part of the problem

    The main problem is that over the years they slowly transformed from an interesting small supplier of electronics components to a small but steady customer base into an expensive supplier of tat to consumers who didn't know any better.

    That, and the fact that they always had someone to harass you with "hello what are you looking for?" the moment you walked into the store, but someone never had enough people manning the tills to avoid a large queue.

    1. the-it-slayer

      Re: Price was only part of the problem

      Another PC World/Curry's.

  23. Pete4000uk

    When I was in my early teens

    Other boys had 'naughty mags under their beds. I had a Maplin catalogue with which I would fantasise over having a Yupiteru MVT-7100 radio scanner.

    I did get one, when I was 33! Time moves on, things change.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When I was in my early teens

      "I did get one, when I was 33!"

      ... you didn't get a 'naughty mag' until you were 33???

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I worked

    in the Hillsborough shop in Sheffield when it first opened around 1990. Myself, Andy, Adrian, Mick Rena, Brian and Chris the Saturday lad. It sold every resistor, capacitor and transistor you could want, it sold good radio gear, good cable and the catalogue was a peach.

    If any of you read the register and this piece, hello!!!

  25. Duffaboy
    Thumb Down

    A note on customer service , retailers

    Don't jump on your customers as soon as they walk in the store as it really pi***s them off and frankly puts me going in on occasions just for a browse or an impulse buy.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: A note on customer service , retailers

      One weekend I walked into a furniture store as I needed a new bed. The store was quiet as I walked in and I saw all the sales staff clock me. One by one they came up to me to ask if they could help. I walked out without buying anything.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: A note on customer service , retailers

        "Yes, you can help me by leaving me alone".

        I only use it when I absolutely need to, but yep - if you NEED to push sales that hard, and you can afford to employ people to do nothing but approach customer's individually all day long, then sorry - you either don't need my money, or you've got problems which mean I don't want to be relying on you for ongoing support.

        Maplin's is just proof of this - from when you need to push your wares in my face, and approach me when I'm clearly standing there holding an armful of very specific techy electronic items which I've experienced no problem determining what they are, at that point you have too much invested in staff having to push products rather than customers coming to you to get them. And look what happens to companies who get that far.

        EDIT: My usual line, in any kind of Maplin's / CEX / etc. is usually "Do I *look* like I need help in a geek shop?"... because there's no way anyone looks at me in an electronics shop and thinks "Poor old non-techy codger, maybe he needs a hand"... I basically project "geek". Said in the right tone, it makes people laugh, agree, and wander off.

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: A note on customer service , retailers

      Oddly enough, the website also likes to jump on you seconds after you open it, with a 'survey' question.

      Someone at maplin has (had) a very weird idea of customer service.

  26. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Closing down sales

    This does seem to be a thing. When stores or chains close the closing down sales seem, these days, to be no more than a come-on to sell more stuff at high prices before the doors close. I've assumed that the idea is to make as much profit as they can from the gullible, then move the remainder to a factor who will just take it off their hands for a guaranteed price.

    1. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Closing down sales

      Could it be that they can write off more if they go into the bankruptcy with higher prices?

    2. druck Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Closing down sales

      Prices will come down closer to the doors closing for the last time. It's then everything will be brought up by dodgy market traders to be flogged from a stall on a windy airfield on bank holiday Monday, following the tradition of tat from Woolworths, Focus DIY, BHS, etc.

  27. Spacedinvader
    Happy

    There's a sign on the window of the Glasgow branch;

    "Please do not stand or smoke on this window" [sic]

  28. Milton Silver badge

    Just another symptom

    With respect to the many excellent comments here, I think Maplin's death is being over-analysed: at risk of now over-simplifying, isn't it really the case that Maplin has followed many predecessor retailers into oblivion for basically similar reasons? Viz: fast delivering and significantly cheaper internet.

    If we exclude grocery, and high street clothing stores—where, understandably, people still like to try stuff on—there isn't much left in bricks'n'mortar retail that internet suppliers cannot do more cheaply: simply because at scale, internet sellers can keep their overheads and costs lower. It's very hard to argue with the math of (a) no eyewateringly expensive high street rental and rates, (b) economies of scale through centralisation, and (c) industrial-grade tax avoidance.

    Indeed, I'd go a little further and wonder why retailers like Boots and WHSmith are still infesting the high street. They are not good value, by and large, and do not, IMHO, have some specialised/USP offering that the 'net cannot compete with. (Why does anyone go into a WHS these days? I'm genuinely curious.)

    I am one of those "mourning dads" that an early poster joked about, being of the speccy teen 70s generation that rescued old 405-line TVs off the pile behind the repair shop to take home and nurture back to life, and even now I still occasionally knock up a gadget (our house boiler was never meant to be connected to the Internet of Shyte) but, the arithmetic became very easy: Maplin couldn't be trusted to concentrate on what I really wanted, and if Amazon couldn't provide, Rapid could—thus the reasons even for walking in the door at Maplin simply evaporated over the years. (And that doesn't include avoiding the persistently eager staff, for I am, in my old age, of somewhat forbidding mien.)

    Whether I am right or not about Boots and WHS, I claim no perspicacity for saying that Maplin won't be the last. If you are to survive in high street retail these days, you need to give customers an irresistibe reason to (a) walk in, and (b) walk out with something.

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Just another symptom

      WHS I could probably agree on, it doesn't do anything well, although it's probably the only widespread high street chain to sell magazines (there are plenty of newsagents, but they're generally local. This may or may not be relevant). They've also cornered travel and hospital locations, and you at least know there will be an adequate if not necessarily extensive selection of books, and an emergency card and stationery selection.

      Boots on the other hand, I can't think of many alternatives where various beauty/skincare/medicines can be bought, and many of the Boots stores have a better range of sandwiches than most other locations.

    2. Chunky Munky
      Unhappy

      Re: Just another symptom

      The only reason I use WHS is that they're the only shop around here that stocks Railway Modeller. I did try ordering it from the local newsagent, but that was a complete non-starter

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Just another symptom

        Ditto, except I go for Model Railway Journal, although it's not as ubiquitous as Railway Modeller and you have to know which branches have it. I used to use WHS for Private Eye too, until SWMBO got me a subscription for Christmas.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Just another symptom

        "They're the only shop around here that stocks Railway Modeller."

        Silly boy.

        Subscribing usually gets you the magazine you want at 1/2 to 2/3 the price, 2-6 weeks before it shows up in the shop AND you know you're going to get it. It also means the magazine gets a bigger cut of your money which keeps them viable longer.

        Otherwise you're at the mercy of the distributors going "not enough of those going there, we're going to discontinue 'em"

        Most newsagents make money on booze and tobacco sales, everything else is noise.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just another symptom

        The ONLY reason I frequent WHS is that there is now a fucking post office in it after they shut the nice, spacious, efficient one down. Now to be replaced with a counter where the average age (and, seemingly IQ) of the staff is 12!

  29. Badbob

    Will I miss them?

    There was a time when I would have missed Maplin. Not any more.

    I was a regular visitor for components. Thanks to the ham fisted nature of my colleagues and the shambolic storage options in the rear of my shared vehicle, I was a regular visitor for such simple items as Croc Clips and Banana Plugs to repair test leads. Until I discovered RS had a better range, was half the price, and their counter service was only another 5min along the motorway.

    I went into Maplin about 2 months ago looking for a resistor, discovered that their component range had been decimated and was now buried in a corner of the store. It’s former location having been replaced with flimsy looking “drones” from companies unknown and other expensively priced, cheap tat. When I asked the PFY for help, I got blank stares. I ended up walking out empty handed, ordered some on the RS website, and had them in my hand the next morning.

    Private Equity may have started the burial process, but the management drove the company to the graveyard in some kind of attempt to sell as much crap as eBay but at twice the price.

  30. John Doe 12

    Ireland??

    Not one article relating to Maplins seems to realise they are an international company with stores in the Irish Republic!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ireland??

      Corrections: "were", "that had".

      Presumably still full of over priced tat, staff outnumbering customers.

  31. MR W B Jones

    No suprising at all, I so needed a DVI-D to vga last night and looked at ships and they where £30 every where, in the end i gave up decided i could wait, and ordered one with free shipping for £2.40 of ebay...

    we will all be better off with out maplin..

  32. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Pint

    Are we sure they haven't increased the prices instead?

  33. Timbo

    The massive (up to) 50% off posters in the shop windows belie the fact that most items in store have only been reduced by 10% or 20%.

    A small number of items are 30% off and in the 2 stores I visited (whilst passing by - I didn't make a special trip) I didn't see much of interest 50% off.

    So, my guess is that the administrators will be transferring all the tangible assets to a new "trading" company (leaving the debts of the old company in a separate legal "entity") and hence whatever they get for the stock will help to pay their fees....and they will know roughly the monthly turnover and what timeframe they expect to sell all the stock off in.

    Hence they don't need to have a big sale yet...but I assume that the larger stores (with higher rents and staff costs) will be closed sooner and stock will be moved to cheaper stores in order to keep them "topped up".

    The unsecured creditors are not likely to get much and the secured creditors will get something back from whatever turnover is achieved during administration (after fees).

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "The massive (up to) 50% off posters in the shop windows belie the fact that most items in store have only been reduced by 10% or 20%."

      It's a bit like those "up to 80MB/s" broadband adverts.

      Anyway, they're closing down. What's the ASA or Trading Standards going to do? Tell them not to run the adverts again in their current form, 8-12 weeks after the shops have closed?

  34. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    What do you expect?

    Any high street store that is significantly more expensive than a reputable online retailer is going to lose most of its business. I used to visit Maplin (and other stores), browse the items on the shelves to see what I liked, then go home and order them online from a different retailer. I may have paid a couple of percent more, but not 20% - 50%.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: What do you expect?

      "I used to visit Maplin (and other stores), browse the items on the shelves to see what I liked, then go home and order them online from a different retailer. "

      Over the last 5 years I've mostly just visited Maplin to have a laugh at their prices and wonder what kind of people buy that shit.

    2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: What do you expect?

      I don't think you understand (or possibly care) how expensive it is to run a shop. The shops still need all the warehousing, warehouse staff, online admin, IT, management etc that online only businesses use as they also have an online presence.

      On top of that there are also business rates, rent, staff costs, utilities, maintenance...

      Do you seriously propose funding that from the 10p margin per low end HDMI lead they'd receive over the online businesses, with an additional 2% margin?

      Yes, the margin on some Maplin products is excessive, but you need to be realistic.

  35. Chozo

    The brown tinged lens of hindsight

    Going after a slice of the tatty electronic toy & gadget pie so dominated by Argos instead of looking after the geeks, nerds and bearded radio hams was never going to end well. Of course with the brown tinged lens of hindsight it's easy to poke a finger at the problem. IMHO it's a shame however they did not go down the Makerspace/Men-in-sheds path, I for one would love to rent time on a fully equipped bench with workshop. Access to all the kit that I otherwise could not afford or have room for at home would of been mighty tempting.

  36. JWLong
    Unhappy

    This Sounds Like.........

    The story of RadioShack in the "US of Mis-Managed A".

    RadioShack became a Tandy company after the original suffered through pretty much the same story of mismanagement. It was purchase by Tandy, which was a leather company but knew how to run a storefront and sell things people needed and wanted.

    In the latter parts of the 20th century the same thing happen again, corporate management was lost to the evolving market, went the wrong way, refused to support the baseline business model and got into selling over priced junk, otherwise known here as "TaT".

    The moral of the story here is that corporate management has for sometime now been totally disconnected from the role of supporting operations in the field where the operating income is generated, to becoming an overload which has absolutely no experience in said operations.

    I feel no sympathy for businesses that operate then fail this way. It's just another example of why the MBA's of corporate management should be taken out to the parking lot of their over priced shiny new office complexes and shot with the biggest possible gun available.

    Hey management, you want sympathy: It's in the dictionary, somewhere between "shit" and "syphillis". The really awful part of this scenario is that the same MBA's that did this will move on to the next business entity and do the same thing again and again. But hey, that's OK because they and their buddies walked away with their bonuses and their shiny already prepaid up to the last day, when the last key cylinder on the last front door is turned to the locked position for the last time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This Sounds Like.........

      Some years back we were given management coaching by a professional manager doing consultancy ( of course). He had a clear view that managing is a profession unrelated to the organisation they were running. Every organisation could be treated the same. What happens though is that these managerial types have no interest in the business product/purpose beyond finding maximum cash streams and reducing costs. To them the ideal company makes and buys nothing but then sells it for as much as they can persuade people to pay, by whatever means. They don't seem to get the idea that people sometimes want to get a decent product in return for the hard-earned

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: This Sounds Like.........

        Some years back we were given management coaching by a professional manager doing consultancy ( of course). He had a clear view that managing is a profession unrelated to the organisation they were running. Every organisation could be treated the same.

        There had been a saying that an MBA could run *any* company. It's *partially* right; an MBA can run any company INTO THE GROUND.

  37. smudger86

    shock horror

    Big shock, a British company on the high street that charges more for the same goods than a raft of American online companies that pay almost zero tax in the UK goes under and we're all incredulous about why they weren't competitive. The UK is falling off a big cliff in many ways but at least we'll be able to get our noise cancelling earphones off eBay at a really great knock down price to drown out the noise of people moaning that nobody buys British any more.

    1. ChrisC

      Re: shock horror

      "that charges more for the same goods"

      Significantly more in many cases, which was the real issue here. Bricks and mortar stores *can* survive in this brave new world of online retailing if they adapt to the environment in which they're now operating, rather than continuing to cling onto some outdated notion that just because they've got a physical presence it gives them the right to gouge customers on price.

      And the sad thing about Maplin is that, sometimes, they got it absolutely spot on. As I've mentioned in other posts on this topic over recent weeks/months, I was quite happy to spend my hard-earned in Maplin when their prices were competitive (and by this I don't necessarily mean equal to what Amazon et al would charge - I'm happy to pay a reasonable premium for the ability to buy something I want/need right there and then), and various parts of our household IT setup came from them. Either their prices were within that "a bit above online but still within reasonable limits" band where I was happy to pay the "get it right now" premium, or their prices were so close to the online price (usually in the post-Christmas sales when they'd do some really good deals on things like external drives) that you'd have had to have been the tightest penny-pinching scrooge who ever walked the planet to have still bought online.

      The problem was that, for a lot of their stuff, the prices were just so far removed from anything resembling sanity that it not only turned people away from buying *those* items, but in the process of them then searching for a better deal elsewhere they'd then learn that pretty much everything else Maplin sold could be found cheaper elsewhere too, even the stuff which was genuinely reasonably priced and might on its own not have encouraged customers to look elsewhere.

      And the whole descent into gadget shop hell didn't help either - alienating their existing customers by relegating them to feeling like second-class shoppers forced to delve into the far depths of the store to find what remained of the "original" Maplin, whilst trying to tempt the bright young crowd in with shiny shiny tat. A bright young crowd who, by and large, probably already spent a significant amount of time buying stuff online and who'd therefore be an even harder audience to sell overpriced stuff to just on the notion that they could walk away with it there and then instead of having to wait a whole 24 hours to get it Primed to them...

      Sigh :-(

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's simple peeps......

    ......200+ stores.....not economic.

    Retain the top 30-50 (likely) profitable stores and move the rest of the sales to the interweb.

    As stated by a previous poster RS manage to have some retail presence, a good range and quick overnight delivery for obscure stuff.......so the model works.

    It's just when you have Vulture Capitalists, who are primarily accountancy based, looking at business models where loading debt onto the operation (because we can take out interest and also it gives us first ranking in the receivership deals) makes more sense then keeping it as an ongoing (although slimmed down) trading operation these rinse and repeat fly by nights have driven many a savable operation into the wall.

  39. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Closing-down sale posters are being plastered over the shop windows of moribund Brit 'leccy tat emporium Maplin Electronics, but even now the discounted goods can still be bought more cheaply from rivals.

    I found the same thing here in the US when RipoffShack/RaidShack/RadioShit shut down. Even with the liquidation sales, much of the kit was still overpriced. Generally all I'd be buying was the 50-70%-off cables. Of course, by then they had changed from being a useful electronics supply store to a crappy cellphone store.

    Come to think of it, Circuit City's liquidation prices weren't very good either.

    It's probably because the liquidation sales are more about getting money back for the creditors (which is understandable) and not about getting rid of stock. There seems to be one company that handles liquidation sales for pretty much everyone, and you will see all sorts of stock being sold there that the store would never have carried (likely brought there from whatever store they had just liquidated prior to this one)

    1. ChrisC

      "It's probably because the liquidation sales are more about getting money back for the creditors"

      In principle, yes. Personal experience of the process from the perspective of an employee of a company that went through the liquidation process a few years ago suggests that in reality, the administrators will do whatever they can to bring funds into the company in order to pay themselves as much as they can get away with extracting from the corpse, and any monies left over at the end of the process are just a rounding error not worthy of further thought or mention.

      Leaving aside the whole question mark over paying what amounts to full "normal" prices for stuff from a liquidated retailer in this particular case, my personal distrust of administrators means I'd be loathe to spend any of my money at any company in administration, because in the back of my mind there'd always be that thought that all I was doing was padding out the administrators next expenses claim rather than providing some much needed funds to help pay any of the people genuinely owed money by the company...

  40. Jasp

    There is definitely still a need to be able to go right now and pick something up locally, even if you have to pay a premium for that.

    It would be nice to see Maplin in a Screwfix type format. Cheaper industrial units with just a counter and no expensive high street retail space.

  41. Dwarf Silver badge

    One last trip down memory lane

    Went in to take a wander around and see what deals they had. Quickly got that feeling of what a waste of time and walked out again.

    Then I remembered why I stopped shopping there in the first place.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: One last trip down memory lane

      >Went in to take a wander around and see what deals they had. Quickly got that feeling of what a waste of time and walked out again.

      Funny that - I get the same feeling when I pass the Apple store in Covent Garden...

      This isn't because the product isn't any good, just that there is nothing on display and sale that isn't available to view elsewhere...

  42. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Never understood their pricing.

    It's a Radio Shack type outfit. And they try to sell HDMI cables, Firewire cables, etc, at 20+ pound prices..

    Why would one even go in there any longer? We already have Currys etc to try to rip us off -but that's in conjunction with selling large TVs etc, so that rip-off cable will seem less pricey (mind already numbed by paying 1000+).

    A store mainly selling accessories can't have rip-off prices on accessories.

  43. Port_able

    Smashing memories

    I'll miss looking forward to broken and mashed up goods arriving ordered off their website, along with the less than zero interestin remedying things. Into the _ANAL_s of customer service history they go.

  44. instant_mash
    Alert

    Maplin 12 month guarantee

    Under the "Clearance" tab on the maplin website it still states in big bold letters that (even second hand) goods all come with a 12 month warranty! Mis-selling much?

  45. instant_mash
    Holmes

    Not recommended but just wondered

    If you shoplift from your chosen branch the day before closes do the police still chase you? No staff to download the cctv footage etc?

  46. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Prices have been inflated..

    Popped into a Maplin tonight, and the prices have been artificially inflated so that with the discount they're as or even more expensive than before.

    Pondered a reduced four channel mixer but couldn't find any reviews, and would have to buy new cables. The 60W 4A worldwide multi voltage supply that's well made was more expensive than when I bought two a few months back.

    Walked out without buying anything, and that's even when I had half an hour to kill, and thought I could find something worthwhile.

    Even the stuff that is a genuine bargain, such as the Hakko FX888D at 115 quid if you can find one is only a little more expensive online from a distributor that'll give you a warranty..

  47. Kaosgeneral

    How moronic is the person who wrote this article? They’ve used eBay and Amazon as a comparison. Of course it’s going to be cheaper online. The headphones they mention from curry’s is an online exclusive deal as well. Completely unfair article

    1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      So you think that we should compare Maplin's store-shutting fire-sale prices only with bricks and mortar retailers? This does not strike me as realistic.

  48. Razerman

    Tandy and Radio Shack where a lot better than Maplin and had a LOT more choice. Would be great if we could get them back.

  49. Private Pyle
    Holmes

    WOW I am shocked...said no one ever

    I worked for them about 4 years ago as a part-time job whilst at Uni.

    I lasted about 9 months before I jumped ship.

    Awful place to work. manager had zero technical knowledge - it was all about profit and bonus and staff perks.

    I must have had several "motivational" chat regards my inability to upsell over priced HDMI to OAP's and other naff crap they started flogging.

    The writing was on the wall regards their prices and as many have said here...the company was being milked by the VC's. The good name it had when I was a hobbyist and general tinkerer had long past.

    The best part of the job for me was interacting with the customers and finding them solutions to tech problems..... 9 out of 10 times by telling them to get it cheaper on eBay.

    Never did get a reference from them.....wonder why

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