back to article Guess who just bought Maplin? Dragons' Den celebrity biz guy Peter Jones

Irascible Dragons’ Den celebrity tycoon Peter Jones has scooped up the Maplin Electronics trading name, The Reg can reveal. An auction of the fallen retailer's intellectual property took place in the summer with PWC asking Morvan Fraser, senior manager for IP sales at Metis Partners to preside over the sell-off. Peter Jones, …

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  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Running with the overheads of more than 200 stores across the UK ...and an inability to compete with online rivals also contributed to Maplin's demise."

    The 200 stores were Maplin's best way to compete with online rivals. If you needed something now a quick trip to Maplin was more effective than waiting for an online vendor to despatch by the slowest possible route and/or lose whatever it was in transit and less annoying than having said vendor spam for feedback.

    The downside of that was the price and it's questionable as to how much of that was due to the overheads of the shops and how much of it was due to the accumulated debt of those leveraged buy-outs.

    Sadly, these days, another, more general, downside is the increasing rapaciousness of the parking vultures who treat all the shops on trading estates as bait. At some point anyone trying to run bricks and mortar shops are going to have to get strict with their landlords about this.

    1. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge

      You're right... It was convenient for us... somewhat. I live in Aberdeen, and Maplin was a 10 minute drive away with free parking right outside, so it was a simple matter to pop down to Maplin to get some solder, or a switch, or something like that that you couldn't really get elsewhere in a hurry.

      It's not a convenient elsewhere though. In a lot of towns, you'd need to park in a multi-story (i.e. pay) and walk to the store etc, and it's at that point that most people would order from Amazon and save themselves the hassle.

      Then there was the RIDONKULOUS prices of their tat. Outrageous prices on things like cables, Arduino shields and the like. It was always going to end the way it did.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      I can't say that parking costs have ever affected my shopping habits.

      That said, I generally shop in big shopping towns, where there's tons of parking and I'm not subject to one guy with a paintbrush and a bucket being the only source of parking spaces.

      You know what stops me parking more? Stupid places that don't take card, notes or pay-on-exit (when I can actually go and get some change without having to leave my car unpaid-for in a card park to do so). Pay-by-text schemes that are so unnecessarily convoluted that it's ridiculous (seriously... I text my plate to a number, maybe including a site number if you're too lazy/cheap to buy one DDI for each car park you operate - what more do you need? You can charge me for an hour and then text me in an hour's time to see if I want another hour).

      I don't even care about walking a little. But I would never use a park-and-ride.

      No, the reason I don't use Maplin is quite simple. Prices. Availability to me is not a concern. Amazon Prime Now will deliver anything from a UPS to a PSU in a matter of hours. Anything more urgent than that, I should have had it in stock already, or be able to cope without it.

      But I always wander into Maplins whenever I pass one. My partners hated walking past one because they knew I'd always wander in and look at everything. And, literally, the last five years I can't justify a purchase in there. A "basics" mouse was costing something like £10. The RPi and Arduino kits were ludicrous (£60-70 each sometimes). Soldering gear was cheap-made but expensive-priced. Simple cables cost a fortune. And there was a ton of disco stuff. A ton of Christmas-toys. A ton of TV coax and satellite cables (who does that that often?). But you couldn't pick up an SD card for a decent price, or an SSD at all (that may have changed, but I gave up going in them eventually).

      Parking didn't even figure in it. I'd probably pay parking just to go *look* in a Maplin's at most points in my life.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Mobile shortcodes ( eg: text hello to 80121 ) are ridiculously expensive to rent. You're talking thousands per month for a dedicated shortcode.

        Normally companies will get a free/cheap keyword from an aggregator - in the example, you would only get forwarded anything prefixed with HELLO. But you could have HELLO1, HELLO2, etc.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Amazon Prime Now will deliver anything from a UPS to a PSU in a matter of hours."

        Recent experience of having Amazon deliver stuff to a locker is that (a) they can't manage it reliably and (b) when they fail their software simply has no means to handle that except to tell you to complain if it hasn't shown up in a week's time.

        And delivering to premises? Yes, they might deliver t premises but not necessarily yours. I've had the experience (not Prime - I avoid all unnecessary subscription) of having been in all day when a parcel was supposed to have been delivered. A couple of weeks later, when my neighbours returned from holiday, they discovered a card in their letter-box telling them that my parcel was in their wood-store (balanced on their bin - at least it wasn't in it). My gate is a few yards across the road from theirs with a house name clearly visible in 6" high letters (houses round here have distinct names - no confusing numbers for the innumerate).

        1. Peter Mount
          FAIL

          In the bin

          Quite a few years ago I had ordered a large pair of Binoculars (the type you put on a tripod) of Ebay & when I got home one day the card said "Put in large box by front door"... yep, in the bin.

          Good job it wasn't on the day they empty them!

          1. Toni the terrible
            WTF?

            Re: In the bin

            I have a parcel bin, lockable, (bought from Amazon) will they use it - will they heck

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "I can't say that parking costs have ever affected my shopping habits."

        It depends where the shop is in relation to the car park. My local Maplin was in an out of town centre trading estate. The estate has now garnered itself a bad reputation for fining anyone who comes near it. There are reports of people simply driving in there to drop off a passenger and driving straight out again being accused of over-staying. That makes parking costs, even for a "free" car park, a significant factor.

        My current Amazon fiasco is because I decided to order from them rather than visit B&Q in the same estate.

      4. Martin an gof Silver badge

        I would never use a park-and-ride.

        Dunno where you live, but in most of the "big shopping towns", cities and the like that I've visited recently, park-and-ride either by bus or by train or by tram actually works out cheaper and is often more convenient than trying to park in a town-centre multistorey, where you first have to fight your way through town-centre traffic and then try not to faint at the prices.

        The downside is that if you are carrying large bags, or happen to have a pushchair / wheelchair, some public transport can be "tight", but it's gradually getting better, even here in Wales where our dreadful old Pacers and Sprinters are soon to be upgraded with a mix of slightly newer trains, converted trains, trams and brand new Diesel and bi-mode units.

        M.

        1. Pontius

          " ...but it's gradually getting better, even here in Wales where our dreadful old Pacers and Sprinters are soon to be upgraded with a mix of slightly newer trains, converted trains, trams and brand new Diesel and bi-mode units."

          Smile... Smirk... Titter... Giggle... Chuckle... Laugh... Fall to the floor in paroxysms of mirth...

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Park and Ride

            Park and Ride in Cambridge has to use the same road as the rest of the traffic so the bus creeps in the same as a car would. So I just go an pay through the nose for the Grand Arcade parking. But I never go in there just for a quick visit to a shop, it's always a serious shopping trip with the family and a lunch out.

            Using Amazon instead of Maplin seems a bit of a twist because when I started out in electronics as a schoolkid, Maplin was just a mail order business. With a written order form at the back of the catalogue.

            Same thing at Jessops, was a mail order or drive to Leicester to visit the one big store.

            1. katrinab Silver badge

              Re: Park and Ride

              I'm sure I read that it is cheaper to pay a parking fine to park on the double yellows outside than it is to pay for parking in the Grand Arcade in Cambridge.

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: Park and Ride

                I usually pay £8.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Park and Ride

                  I usually pay £8.

                  Eight quid for parking? I'd expect to be offered car parking and XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX, and XXXXXXXX XXX with X XXX XXXX.

                  One of us needs to move, but since I can mostly park and shop for free, it's probably you needing to move. And where I live we've got HILLS.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Park and Ride

              "Park and Ride in Cambridge has to use the same road as the rest of the traffic so the bus creeps in the same as a car would."

              ... but the real issue is that the Park and Ride and rest of the traffic in Cambridge has to use the same road as the Garnd Arcade car park queue so everything wairts until someone leaves the car park and the queue can shuffle up one car length.

      5. Mike Pellatt

        Amazon Prime Now will deliver anything from a UPS to a PSU in a matter of hours.

        If you life or work in <BigCityWhoseNameBeginsL>, yes (OK, I work there some of the time). Out in the beautiful East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it works like this.

        For starters, it's next day, not same day. Then....

        Courier can't find you. Goes back to base. Tries again next day and this time is actually arsed to call you. So you give directions. Which you would have done in the first place if Amazon actually gave you a free text box against your account for delivery instructions, rather than 6 characters for a safebox code. Yes, I have suggested this a million times to customer disservice. So he finds you. Makes a note of directions. The next 4 or 5 Prime orders arrive smoothly.

        That or the package just goes back to the sender. Calling Customer disservice makes no difference. Except for another months' free Prime.

        Then Amazon changes the courier company they use for Prime. Rinse and repeat.

        Note that they deliver to East Devon some of the time from a "local depot" in Bristol. Not Exeter. No, Bristol. Madness.

      6. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Amazon Prime Now will deliver anything from a UPS to a PSU in a matter of hours. Anything more urgent than that, I should have had it in stock already, or be able to cope without it.

        Only if you're living in Downtown London (or downtown NYC or Seattle for us Yanks). I'm 2 hours outside of NYC, and even the cows don't deliver that fast.

    3. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Agreed. All the purchases that I can remember making from Maplin were largely because of convenience. However, they all tended to be fairly small, so even with Maplin's enthusiastic approach to pricing, the amount of pound coins passed over the counter was still relatively small.

      Given the choice between paying £5 for a do-dah worth £2 and getting it now, versus going online and paying £2 for a do-dah worth £2 plus £2 postage/packing and a 2 or 3 day wait...happy to go to Maplin and pay their prices.

      Multiply the value of the do-dah by a factor of, say, 10....then the online option and a wait time becomes more attractive.

      To my mind, a large factor in Maplin's demmise on the high street was that there just weren't enough people in urgent-ish need of a plu/cable/adapter/whatever to bring enough cash into the business.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Multiply the value of the do-dah by a factor of, say, 10....then the online option and a wait time becomes more attractive.

        But when you have to order those 5 or 10 different do-dahs from 5-10 different places, and pay S&H for each one, At that point the local Maplins-type shop (or RaidShack/RipoffShack for us yanks) becomes useful again. But RadioShit had become (obviously) shit some 20-25 years ago, it just took a long time for them to finally die.

    4. Stuart Castle

      I think the 200 stores were both a blessing and a curse for Maplin. Yes, they had the cost of running hundreds of small stores and god knows how many warehouses, as opposed to the few large warehouses Amazon have, but they also had the advantage that for deliveries, they probably had a store within a few miles of most of their customers (thus bringing delivery costs down), and also for the customer, it was good to be able to pop into the local Maplin and pick up an item quickly. Something which saved my own particular arse on several occasions.

      For instance, a few years ago, I was asked, on a Friday, to get some documentation typed up for Monday. The notes I needed were on my PC hard drive at home. So, next morning (I was due to go out Friday night, and I think to work effectively, it's good to have some down time), I switched my PC on. Nothing. After a few minutes of trying various things, I noticed a strange smell. The PSU had blown. I was able to pop down to my local Maplin, buy a PSU, and get home. Admittedly, it was a crap PSU (I didn't have much spare cash, so had to go for the cheapest one I could), but it did work, and I was able to do the documentation I needed.

      Had Maplin not been around, it could have been a very different story, Yes, I could have gone up Tottenham Court Road, but I didn't have the time, and I may not have been able to afford a PSU up there, on top of my train fare.

      I actually miss the days when you could go to an actual shop and have a decent selection of PC hardware. For instance, I have some files at home I like to have available on the home network. I could need them at any hour of the day, and I tend to run backups at night. Unfortunately, the only computer I have with is suitable for the task is my main PC. I'd like to move these files (and the backup process) to another PC.

      As the new PC will go in my bedroom, I'd like it to be relatively small, and certainly quiet. I've been looking at Intel Nucs. Now, before committing >£600 to something (the NUCs themselves are relatively cheap, but don't include RAM or Storage, which can add significantly to the cost), I'd like to see it in action. Can I find a shop that sells them? No.. And yes, I know that the core i3 and celeron Nucs are a lot cheaper that the i5 or i7 nucs, but I like to learn about different OSs, and rather than trash whatever machine I happen to be using, I prefer to use VMs. It would be nice if I could leave these VMs running without bothering my main machine.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "I've been looking at Intel Nucs."

        Raspberry Pi, Drive of your choice with USB interface, NextCloud. Job's a good'un.

        1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

          hard drives attached to USB 2 on the Pi are not a good combo if you need any sort of performance.

          There are a few SoC boards out there now that have usb3 or SATA for spining rust, or even m.2 for solid state, They are a little more expensive than a Pi, but not prohibitive, but a better option for NAS or a nextcloud install...

          not that I have anything against the pi, I love them, I have about 10 of them scattered about performing many tasks where disk access speeds is not an issue, media players, vpn, pi hole, radius, mail.

      2. Belperite

        ""I've been looking at Intel Nucs."

        I have Cloudstack running on a Celeron one, and it's happy spinning up various VMs, as long as they don't need too much CPU grunt.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. ibmalone Silver badge

        Had Maplin not been around, it could have been a very different story, Yes, I could have gone up Tottenham Court Road, but I didn't have the time, and I may not have been able to afford a PSU up there, on top of my train fare.

        The glory days of Tottenham Court Road are behind it too (if they ever happened, think I missed them). And despite their "enthusiastic approach to pricing" (quite like that phrase), maplin at least had the prices on the shelf, going to the typical TCR shop you usually have to ask them for what you're after, probably great for those with deep pockets who like haggling, but less so if you're wanting to shop around. Yoyotech was nice, but departed for Basingstoke some time ago.

        1. Soruk

          > if you're wanting to shop around. Yoyotech was nice, but departed for Basingstoke some time ago.

          I live in Basingstoke and somehow I never knew about this?!

        2. smot

          Yes, TCR has largely become tat tech. Last time I was there (year ago) it felt like a pointless visit.

          No more Lasky's or Proops....

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "going to the typical TCR shop you usually have to ask them for what you're after, probably great for those with deep pockets who like haggling, but less so if you're wanting to shop around"

          Remember that well from when I went to TCR to buy a VCR (obligatory Youing Ones ref - yes, I had a video) and basically every shop the conversation was the same

          Q: I'm looking for a xyz-1234 VCR ... do you sell them"

          A: yes

          Q: what's price?

          A: what's anyone else told you?

          Q: How can I tell you what anyone else has told me if noone will give a price

          ... my sister had a variant of this when living on edge of Brixton and asked at local TV shop price of a TV they had and got answer "go to TCR and find the price there and we're £10 chearper"

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >If you needed something now a quick trip to Maplin was more effective than....

      Luckily I live near an RS counter so can click and collect.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RS~?

        And people say Maplins were overpriced!!

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: RS~?

          usually pay £8.

          Eight quid for parking? I'd expect to be offered car parking and XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX, and XXXXXXXX XXX with X XXX XXXX.

          One of us needs to move, but since I can mostly park and shop for free, it's probably you needing to move. And where I live we've got HILLS.

          The Park and Ride is £8.50 for our group. There are plenty of free shopping options, but that's the price of Cambridge, and as I like Cambridge I don't mind sharing that cost.

          I don't get the relevance of hills.

    6. anothercynic Silver badge

      That's what I suspect Jones is banking on... the residual customer loyalty to a point...

      Jessops surprisingly seems to cope ok after their resurrection.

    7. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      @Doctor Syntax - Brick and mortar locations done right is a competitive advantage. But the old rules of retail siting are partially invalid. Plus you can not directly compete on price or absolute selection with someone like Amazon. So you have a valid reason for one to come to you rather than surf e-commerce sites.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, the problem was we all walked into Maplin, laughed at the prices, and very occasionally bought something minor only because we needed it in a hurry. We collectively never spent enough money to support the 200 shops we visited.

  2. ForthIsNotDead Silver badge
    Pint

    Well, best of luck to him...

    ...it's a pretty ballsy thing to do. Sadly, I can't think of why I would want to buy a product from Maplin, over say, Amazon. Amazon have literally everything you can think of. There's nothing a new Maplin can sell that Amazon can't.

    At least he won't have the overhead of all the brick-and-mortar stores, so that's something. He should be able to run a fairly tight ship. He presumably already has supply-chain management nicely tucked up with his other companies (Jessops etc.) so I would imagine the Maplin site will tie into already established, running, and working back-office order management, supply management, and customer management systems. Another saving.

    Still, it's a pretty ballsy thing to do. I wish him all the best with it. Respect for having a go at keeping a fondly remembered high-street name alive, albeit in a different form.

    1. DaLo

      Re: Well, best of luck to him...

      Well, you know what I would do ... and Peter Jones you can have this idea for just 40% of the company, but you can reduce it to 30% in 5 years time if you have repaid me what I decide I'm worth... is run it with priority to the education sector. Create whole kits and lesson plans with add-ons and homework where parents can buy extra kit to get the extended marks with a school provided discount - keep that discount available as a Maplin educational member.

      Embed it as part of GCSE and A-level coursework. Create books and course and provide them as off curriculum extras.

      Push birthday and christmas gifts aimed at children and educational so that family members can buy cool things that have a good education slant.

      Then push into extras for the school - tablets, projectors, PAs, lighting, security - with service techs and mobile installers, get on the LA procurement list as a preferred supplier.

      Easy push, lot of money and you have to seriously screw up to be delisted.

      1. Linker3000

        Re: Well, best of luck to him...

        Nice idea, but the official STEM organisations, together with a band of suppliers, including big hitters like Farnell are already doing this with the Pi and micro:bit platforms, and simple electronics and robotics on the periphery.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Well, best of luck to him...

          big hitters like Farnell

          Yes, they've actually done it quite well too with their three slightly-differently-targetted brands of Farnell (decades-long rival to RS), Element 14 (educational) and CPC (gadget tat for the rest of us). Of course, despite the different "shop fronts", the stuff behind the scenes is identical, so you effectively target three different markets for the price of one.

          That's not to say that there aren't other players in the market too. Companies such as Pimoroni, The Pi Hut and ModMyPi are very big on the education side, both re-selling and creating their own kit (despite their names, not just Raspberry Pis!), and suppliers such as Kitronic have huge ranges aimed directly at schools, all of which could quite nicely benefit from a bit of high street exposure, should Maplin like to do down this route as suggested by an earlier poster.

          M.

      2. Efer Brick

        Re: Well, best of luck to him...

        <gruff scotch voice> I'll give ye a quid for 99% of the company

        1. Spacedinvader
          FAIL

          Re: Well, best of luck to him...

          Scotch is a drink...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            FAIL

            Re: Well, best of luck to him...

            No, Whisky is the drink, Scotland is where some of it comes from.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Well, best of luck to him...

              I do like those Scottish eggs though, with the sausage meat and breadcrumb shells.

              What kind of hen lays those?

              1. John G Imrie Silver badge

                What kind of hen lays those?

                They are Haggis eggs.

          2. Justin Case
            Joke

            Re: Well, best of luck to him...

            @Spacedinvader

            > Scotch is a drink...

            And a scotch voice is what you get from drinking it...

    2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Well, best of luck to him...

      "Sadly, I can't think of why I would want to buy a product from Maplin, over say, Amazon."

      How about the disgraceful way that Amazon treats the staff in its distribution centres?

    3. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Well, best of luck to him...

      At least he won't have the overhead of all the brick-and-mortar stores, so that's something.

      But he does have a few Jessops stores. It seems to me that Jessops and Maplins could be quite compatible bedfellows. Maybe the stores wouldn't have the stockroom at the back staffed by a PFY who will happily dig out half a dozen BC109s, some stripboard and precisely the length of CF100 cable you need, but adding a Maplins-branded "gadget" section to the Jessops-branded cameras etc. section of a store might just work.

      M.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Well, best of luck to him...

        "half-a-dozen BC109s".

        Blimey, that'll cost you six quid! (yes, I have a pile left over from way back too)

        BC547's are 11p, get with the times!

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Well, best of luck to him...

          2N3905, 2N3904.

          Little black plastic packages. Such happy memories when these were enough to keep me busy and I had no other responsibilities. The smell of flux from leaded solder. Acetone based flux cleaner. Vero stripboard.

          Resistors on a long ribbon strip, decoding their colour bands.

          Sigh.

          Now I can just put them on a SPICE simulator.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Well, best of luck to him...

            "Now I can just put them on a SPICE simulator.

            Both SPICE and Maplin started in the early 70's

            1. Ivan Headache

              Re: Well, best of luck to him...

              Anyone remember 'Home Radio' and 'Elelctronique'?

              Somewhere in my extensive collection of Really Useful boxes must be their catalagues from the mid sixties.

            2. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Well, best of luck to him...

              Both SPICE and Maplin started in the early 70's

              Indeed, but visit to UC Berkeley were rare for British schoolkids in the 70s.

              But a letter with a postal order to Rayleigh, Essex for the price of a second class stamp was within reach.

        2. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: Well, best of luck to him...

          BC547's are 11p, get with the times!

          Always wondered why "old fogeys" insisted on using 741 op-amps when the 5532 was so much better, or the 071 or 081. Are those things even available any more? These days I often find myself just getting a "module" instead. Is there a risk of losing old design skills?

          M.

        3. Ray Bellis

          Re: Well, best of luck to him...

          > BC547's are 11p, get with the times!

          Except from Maplins, where they would have been £3.99 for a bag of five, and you can't buy just one.

    4. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: Well, best of luck to him...

      "Amazon have literally everything you can think of. There's nothing a new Maplin can sell that Amazon can't."

      Amazon has a decent size selection in many areas, but it's far from comprehensive. You're better off with dedicated shops for all kinds of specialist stuff, even for a pretty broad interpretation of "specialist". Try getting bike parts, for example. Not exactly an unknown niche hobby, but aside from inner tubes and a pile of Chinese knock-off lights, you'll struggle to find anything of much use at all; even common parts and big brand clothing have pitiful selections easily beaten by small local shops, let alone the bigger online bike shops. The same goes for things like looking for specific books or board games, and all kinds of other things. And of course even when you do find things you want, it's rarely Amazon actually selling them, but just some other random store that happens to use Amazon as their online storefront - half the time they don't even use Amazon's delivery service.

      There's nothing Maplin can sell that Amazon can't, but there are likely plenty of things Maplin can sell that Amazon doesn't. Who knows if it will work out in practice, but there's certainly plenty of space for specialist retailers next the the generics giant of Amazon.

  3. alain williams Silver badge

    "extensive" customer data

    Is their data being sold to another organisation one of the uses that customers were clearly told when they handed over their data ? I suspect not. Can anyone say what the GDPR has to say about this ?

    1. Craig 2

      Re: "extensive" customer data

      Exactly what I was going to ask... Selling a company and including "extensive customer data" as an asset sounds like inviting the sale of said data by itself. Definitely NOT under the heading of "using customer data to process orders etc".

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: "extensive" customer data

      I think the default approach to "informed consent" was to ask the customer for their email address at the till. If they had the temerity to ask why, they'd be told "so we can send you discount vouchers".

      Given how much good this data did Maplin in the end, you'd wonder why anyone would want it.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "extensive" customer data

      That was my thought but then I remembered most gdpr policies include something like the following under who they will share your data with.

      "Third parties to whom we may choose to sell, transfer, or merge parts of our business or our assets. Alternatively, we may seek to acquire other businesses or merge with them. If a change happens to our business, then the new owners may use your personal data in the same way as set out in this privacy notice."

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: "extensive" customer data

        "Third parties to whom we may choose to sell, transfer, or merge parts of our business or our assets...."

        I think that most would agree that data can be given if the business is being sold, in whole or part, as they need the data to continue the business.

        What it seems that they were doing was selling the data to another business that was NOT going to carry on the Maplin business. If they were selling it to Currys (who are not buying any Maplin shops) then I would be upset.

  4. ashdav

    So back to mail order where they started.

    Happy days reading the telephone directory sized catalogue.

    1. Linker3000

      Bring back the coloured discount coupons!

      How Peter makes a go of things will be interesting...

      Back to drones, car bling, expensive AV accessories and disco lights, together with a token gesture of electronic components at stupidly-high prices - been there and look where it got them.

      Back to Maplin's roots, selling electronic components and (now) embedded hobby stuff (Arduino, RPi, STM, Micro:bit...) - that's sewn up by Amazon, Ebay and well-established players (Pimoroni, Kitronik, Rapid, Bitsbox...etc. Even RS, Farnell and CPC Farnell will take hobbyists' money tnese days), and if yoh can wait a couple of weeks, there's Tayda in Thailand.

      Just flog the IP and data?

    2. Persona

      Back when they started their catalogue was about 20 sheets of A4 stapled together with a coloured cover sheet, orangey brown the first month and green the second. The huge catalogue came much later.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Duncan Bannatyne...

    Was also in the running, but ultimately decided he was OOT!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re. "extensive" customer data.

    ah, yes, this can be flogged to alibaba for a tidy amount :)

    1. Duffaboy
      Trollface

      Re: re. "extensive" customer data.

      good job i gave maplin a fake email address

    2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: re. "extensive" customer data.

      As stated above, would this not be illegitimate use of customer data thus illegal under GDPR?. Be interesting to see if El Reg could start digging into what can legally happen to your data after a company buyout ...

  7. TonyJ Silver badge

    Yeah I'd always pop into our local Maplins when I was in the area. But then walk out shaking my head at not only the crud they were trying to sell but the ridiculous prices that they were asking for it.

    I bought a couple of their basic electronic kits for my sons once and I kid you not, I couldn't get the solder to stick to the pads - even after liberal use of PCB cleaner and a fibreblass pen!

    Some of their stuff was decently priced but it was difficult to find.

    Like other, I was sad to see them go ultimately, but I wasn't that surprised, either.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      I bought a couple of their basic electronic kits for my sons once and I kid you not, I couldn't get the solder to stick to the pads

      Too late now, but I find this is common with Lead-free solder, which is probably what was in the box. Despite what it says on the reel, most Lead-free solder needs a much higher tip temperature than ordinary Lead-Tin solder in order to flow cleanly, and in my (limited) experience, cheap "hobby" soldering irons in the 15W - 25W range just can't hack it. Yes, they will melt the solder, but they can't keep it hot enough to stay melted while it flows into the joint.

      I once ran a series of "learn to solder" courses for children at work. I insisted they bought 40W "temperature controlled" soldering irons, but they were admittedly quite cheap ones. Even they struggled, but we had remarkably few outright failures, and I only had to re-make a small number of dodgy joints to get the kits working for the children to take home.

      M.

      1. Humpty McNumpty

        More Powa!

        If they were playing it safe it was probably both lead free and colophony free, a double whammy of harder to work with. Modern irons from Weller et al for working with solder like this are 80W+ and running over 400C to work nicely. (How hot will depend a bit on the Wattage and temp stability of the tip).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: More Powa!

          a double whammy of harder to work with

          About time we hunted down the fuckwits that assumed that because eating lead was bad for you, lead within ten yards was dangerous and needed to be prohibited.

          All seems to go back to ROHS. Anybody know who started it?

          1. hplasm Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: More Powa!

            "Anybody know who started it?"

            Same fuckers that are scared of mercury thermometers breaking.

            1. John G Imrie Silver badge

              Re: More Powa!

              As a school kid I used to roll balls of mercury up and down my desk. It hasn't had any effect on me, oh look here comes Mr Rabbit, wibble wibble wibble

          2. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: More Powa!

            because eating lead was bad for you, lead within ten yards was dangerous

            Why do you think they banned Lead in petrol? It's breathing it in that's particularly bad in this case, though I suspect that the amount of Lead you could breathe in, even if you leaned right over the iron, is near zero, certainly when compared with the stuff chucked out by pre Lead-free petrol cars.

            Not so sure about the "colophony" comment. Most solders use rosin as their cores, which I don't think is at all dangerous in normal use, though possibly the small particles released by soldering are an irritant which is likely to be a particular problem for someone susceptible to asthma. This is why extraction systems (or even a simple desk fan to draw the fumes away) are recommended when soldering.

            M.

    2. Stuart Halliday

      Probably because you were using lead-free solder?

      If you'd swapped to silver-based solder which Maplin sold you'd be laughing.

  8. mazzy2u2

    Sigh

    Its a bit sad really, like other commenters here, it was good for something needed quickly. Their prices were a bit OTT but, if you needed it, you paid it. As a side note just had a look at the RS website prices... just clicked on an keyboard they sell for £43, looked at Amazon for the same thing, £30, and apart from independent retailers, RS seems to be the only other place that you can get things "right now" if theres one near enough to you.

  9. handle bars

    I can think of a very viable business plan for "Maplin" but there would have been no way I would have put money into trying to convert a strange brand home tech shop / electronics bits chain. The old "Maplin catalogue" & "magazine projects" customer base of the 1980s can easily be re-imagined in the "hack tech" current era... So the recent stores had too much consumer elec baggage of "I want to be a Tandy" model to rescue. Tandy/Radio Shack is dead!! The supermarkets cherry pick the consumer electronics and Amazon owns the "secondary brands" because they have a super low price offer.... Ebay controls the "know what you are buying components market & I love risk", and RS etc own the "Ebay might sell something that looks real but do you trust what you are buying can really keep you safe with 230v plugged in" trust buyers... SO where for Maplin? Well, I know where I would target a chain of shops and how I would build the customer base... but it certainly isn't trying to make a 1980s Tandy work today... and indeed this guy already has some understanding of a hobby market loyalty with Jessops...

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      The old "Maplin catalogue" & "magazine projects" customer base of the 1980s can easily be re-imagined in the "hack tech" current era.

      I suppose Maplin really came to the fore in the "analogue" days, when people tinkered around building or improving radios, amplifiers, electronic synthesizers and the like. In the "digital" present many new companies have arisen, as mentioned in other posts, but it's encouraging to realise that some of the old guard, who never really lost the ethos epitomised by Maplin's fantastic cover art, and the stories that went with it are still going. I always coveted one of Maplin's modular synthesizer kits, but what I actually bought from them was small electronics, and then I went to Greenweld or Cricklewood, or Watford Electronics before they dropped that side of their business in favour of computers, to buy "bargain bin" bits. I still have a massive array of 5x7 LED matrixes and a "Micro Professor" thermal printer in my "useful bits" drawer...

      M.

    2. Thomas Steven 1

      AliExpress?

      There's always AliExpress if you want it cheaper than eBay and the wait is usually the same, as it's usually the same Chinese sellers for electronic components on eBay.

  10. Videomancer

    Even in the fire sale Maplin's stuff was still more expensive than their rivals.

    Maplin was only good for stuff you had to have yesterday.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. msknight Silver badge

    He'll be in a prime position...

    ... to kick start the UK electronics hobyist market.

    There seems to be strength of interest, but for components I've got to go to the likes of RS, Mouser, etc. and there's no easy tuition. I actually just bought old 200 in 1 and 300 in 1 electronics tutor kits from fleabay.

    Let's see what he does with it. It's got to change, because otherwise it'll just be more of the same.

  12. Death_Ninja

    I don't know why he'd bother

    Using the same analysis he'd pitch to some poor tw@t on DD...

    ...why would you try to compete on price with Amazon selling electronic goods? You can never have the discounts and efficiency of Amazon, you will always be more expensive. I'm out.

  13. Why Not?

    Cost and competence

    Almost always Maplin was 2-5 times the price of online competitors(even online). The prices at 50% off were still more than Homebase. The quality was not always great.

    They were more expensive than Homebase or B&M, had less stock of cables than Poundland and charged the same for cables as Currys. The knowledge of their staff was slowly falling.

    They need to find a niche. Maybe Mr Jones will join Expansys (who manage to find weird & wonderful things to sell) & Maplin who do have a well known and trusted high street name.

    1. jeffdyer

      Re: Cost and competence

      Homebase, Currys, B & M, Poundland|

      Are we thinking of the same Maplins?

  14. Duffaboy
    FAIL

    Much as i respect Mr Jones

    I cannot for the life of me think why he would buy this.

    1. Duffy Moon

      Re: Much as i respect Mr Jones

      Whereas I have total disrespect for the smug twerp. I hope he loses a shitload of money.

  15. Mage Silver badge

    and "extensive" customer data.

    Should be illegal to sell off/transfer customer data. Different if it's a takeover of a going concern, basically an IPO, privatising or new major shareholders. Should be illegal for a carcass.

    Actually even relaunching labels or selling them to unrelated companies is almost fraudulent. Often cheapest possible OEM junk rebranded. Some of course may be the "old quality". Most brands are bought to dupe the public.

    Very few well known pre 1980s brands of Consumer Electronics are real. RCA, Grundig, Telefunken, Philips, Akai, Bush, Murphy, Morphy Richards, Swan, Roberts, Nokia, Alcatel, Thinkpad. See what brands Glen-Dimplex and Whirlpool own.

    However what reputation did Maplin have in the last few years?

    1. jeffdyer

      Re: and "extensive" customer data.

      Are you sure you're right about Philips?

      But Blaupunkt, Kenwood and Polaroid can be added to your list too.

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: and "extensive" customer data.

        I'm a little puzzled about Philips, is it different in the UK? Because last I checked Philips pretty much still had it's own city (Eindhoven), university and is pretty big round these (Dutch) parts.

        Not got many products from them (small TV/monitor, ghetto blaster) but they've never gone wrong and get used all the time. Not cheap either.

        1. Z80

          Re: and "extensive" customer data.

          Guitar maker Gibson bought Philips' audio and home entertainment business a few years ago. They went bankrupt earlier this year.

          'Real' Philips are concentrating on health, personal care and lighting products these days I think.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: and "extensive" customer data.

            "Guitar maker Gibson bought Philips' audio and home entertainment business a few years ago."

            At one point Philips TV's were made by TP Vision, too.

          2. Ledswinger Silver badge

            Re: and "extensive" customer data.

            'Real' Philips are concentrating on health, personal care and lighting products these days I think.

            The lighting business is a minority stake now - less than 20% seven months ago, and a publicly declared intention to sell of that.

            Looks like the Netherlands have the same industrial policy as the UK.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: and "extensive" customer data.

          "I'm a little puzzled about Philips, is it different in the UK?"

          AIUI a few of Philips' product lines have had the name licensed to other producers. A bit like Nokia phones.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: and "extensive" customer data.

        "But Blaupunkt, Kenwood and Polaroid can be added to your list too."

        And Qualcast lawnmowers.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: and "extensive" customer data.

      "However what reputation did Maplin have in the last few years?"

      The standard practice is for a brand to be sold off to a finance house who then milk it for all it's worth without putting in the continued investment to maintain the reputation. The account of Maplin's history shows that that's what's already happened to them. The interesting question that then arises then. Can the brand be successfully revived if someone is prepared to invest in developing it?

  16. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    SEO? SEO What?

    "Online reseller BuyITDirect had voiced an interest in Maplin’s IP but questioned what value Jones will realise. ...Maplin’s website had been down for a couple of months and Google had de-indexed the domain, Glynne claimed, “so the residual SEO value has gone." "

    I get that a firm I've never heard of might think SEO is important, so their wares float to the top of the search returns, but Maplin was a web site I'd go to, and use their search. If you're big enough, people come direct to your website.

    If Maplin rises again as an online store I'll check it out, and if it's any good it'll possibly regain that go to status. SEO only matters if it's run of the mill and competing with other such outlets, where price and delivery costs sway the decision. Let's be honest, price was never Maplin's USP.

  17. trevorde

    Another sound investment

    from the person who invested in Hamfatter:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamfatter

  18. StuntMisanthrope Bronze badge

    Get out of jail and a kiss.

    I used to navigate by Maplin shops, in fact it's location was first on the list in any new city and when you really needed something on the spot where the next one was, Yes, there's RS and Farnell and other specialists, but if the scope was wrong, the part was faulty and you wanted to go home with the business operation still intact, disaster averted or the measurement incorrect, then paying a few quid more saved a fortune in money, days and travel and rewarded by beer. #suitcasewithpartscompartmentandalloywheels

  19. Spudley

    Online reseller BuyITDirect had voiced an interest in Maplin’s IP but questioned what value Jones will realise

    Maybe he wants to set up a holiday park where staff wear yellow jackets and engage in humours capers on a weekly basis.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      .... that's it - he wants to wind up Deborah Meaden by setting up a rival holiday park business - at last I can see the method in his madness!

  20. royprime

    I'm suprised he bothered.

    Really can't see this being turned around. At least with the shops you could get it same day, for everything else there is Amazon. As much as I don't like Amazon (I worked there for a couple of months between work), it's still the easiest and most often the cheapest solution.

    Makes me wonder if Peter Jones met up with Elon Musk and they had a nice smoke together - puffff - yes I can make some money on that - pass the spliff.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    yaaay craplin

  22. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

    history.

    I remember way back when maplins was a mail order business. you sent off for a catalogue and it was filled with all the delights that electronics had to offer. The only option at the time was RS who had a similar catalogue but ws more targeted towards the professional.

    to buy electronics components on the high-street, you had Tandy or (radio shack in the usa), but the prices where extortionate compared to mail order. Tandy went to the wall. In Liverpool, we were fortunate to have a shop called Radio Spares (on Dale Street). You just wrote your list of stuff you wanted from the maplin/RS catalogue and popped in the shop. Prices were very competitive with the mail order shops. As fa as I know, they were still open when I left Liverpool in the late 90's.

    It looks like history repeated itself the way Maplins ended up the same as Tandy. will they ever learn

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: history.

      I liked ordering from Maplin and waiting for my parcel, but if I needed stuff in a hurry then the TV repair places would often have stuff in. Any town had TV rental and repair shops, and if you could get the components for reasonable prices in them if you got to know the people.

  23. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    On consideration I think there's a real opportunity here if he does things right. The big problem with mail order which online ordering inherited was successful delivery. Amazon seemed to have put a lot of effort into getting that right. My experience is that they've now gone backwards in that respect. Today's fiasco is that a package ordered on Tuesday for delivery to a locker in Yorkshire yesterday has today shown up at a carrier facility in France. I can only conclude that having diversified into IT services, media, AI and goodness knows what they may do next that management talent is spread too thin and they can no longer meet previous standards. When they started out they were the disrupters, now they're ripe for being disrupted themselves.

  24. N2 Silver badge

    Bought for a tenner

    Expect most of the stores to close.

    Takeover buisness as usual.

  25. steviebuk Silver badge

    The..

    ... overpriced nature didn't help them. The comment they are no longer visible on the high street is not completely true. Our local store hasn't been rented yet so the sign is still up :)

    Junior in the title for Jones means someone i can pay shitty wages to, to make the brand take off again. The prices are key. If all overpriced again then it will fail again.

  26. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    Could someone PLEASE allow us the old interface as an option - as I said at the time it was announced in beta - it is CRAP.

  27. SimonHayterUK

    SEO will be restored

    The mention within the article of the domains having little to no value is a false statement. Backlinks are only ever removed from a site when those links are removed. Once the site is re-indexed the site will benefit from the links previously, apart from deep links on pages that no longer exists, however redirects to similar pages can also re-instate the juice. Google does not 'remove' authority from a domain as simply put.

  28. JBowler

    Jessop's then Maplins

    Now I know when he was born.

    Actually GBP100,001 is definitely a good deal with all us baby boomers who remember it, I'm assuming "six figures" doesn't mean GBP1,000.01, but it might. Healthy?

    John Bowler

  29. Wobbly World

    Successful delivery!!??

    My only hope is that PeterJones has the sense not to use “Parcel Force” as his preferred courier because if they can't find you don’t expect a phone call..!!! In fact it’s a wast of time giving them your number as their drivers DO NOT HAVE A COMPANY PHONE so unless they have a personal phone, most don’t, and are prepared to go the extra mile and use it to contact you for directions when needed, your package goes back to base. They will try again next day and this time as they can’t call you, see above, your package goes back to the supplier, even though you would of gladly given directions!!

    How can a modern, large distribution company carry on business in this manner!!!

    For fuck sake if any one at Parcel Force reads this please note:

    PARCEL FORCE GIVE YOUR COURIERS THE TOOLS/PHONES TO EFFECTIVELY CARRY OUT THEIR/YOUR BUSINESS.!!!!!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Successful delivery!!??

      "My only hope is that PeterJones has the sense not to use “Parcel Force” as his preferred courier because if they can't find you don’t expect a phone call..!!!"

      It depends on where you live. Out here in the country our local posties know to connect us with our daughter who lives a mile or so away. The other day one of them rang the bell with a parcel for her, she being on holiday. He'd left the card through the door but did we want to take it for her to save her the trip to collect it from the office*? Probably strictly against the rules but that's service.

      *The delivery office is hugely inconvenient. It's beside the post office but its opening hours are what you'd expect from an office whose function is to send out the posties first thing in the morning. The post office itself is now, of course, a separate business so can't provide that service. Whoever was behind that particular split up can't lay much claim to intelligent thinking.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: Successful delivery!!??

        I've never had a package go back to the supplier.

        Their depot, maybe, which may be a drive away, but never to the supplier. They warn it's possible if you don't collect within <however many> days but I've never had one returned because of that.

        If anything, I'm infinitely more annoyed that historically their depots only ever opened M-F 9-5, which is just ridiculous. Now, at least, they have a weekday that's open later and usually on a Saturday too. Or I can pay for redelivery at a specified time/date/location (I've never had to).

  30. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Step 1...

    Simply start selling overpriced coffees from the old stores and they'll be making money hand over fist.

  31. Xpositor

    I would definitely like them to go back to mail order. I need more reading material to go with the screwfix catalogue in the gentleman's room.

  32. EscapedTheInsanity

    Extensive Customer Data......

    pft - customer data.....

    I got a filing cabinet full of staff paper records including bank details, next of kin, addresses and disciplinary records when the one near me decided to fire sale the entire shop.

    No point reporting it. You can't have the ICO fine a company for negative value.

    Thankfully I convinced the wife that it was a crap idea to just chuck it in the bin and instead did what I expect any decent human being to do and shredded the lot.

  33. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    The den?

    When I first read that headline, I only saw "Guess who just bought Maplin? Dragons' Den"...

    I wondered why a failed regional (NY State) chain of gaming and comic book stores was buying a failed UK store chain.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Offline

    "Our mission is to hire a new team of brilliant brains which can help us bring this beloved site back online"

    Its the stores that I want brought back online. The Maplin stores were the last place I was able to walk to and buy electronic components and other bits and bobs. I hate being forced to shop for such things online, having to wait at home for deliveries to arrive, finding its not the right thing when it finally arrives, etc.

    But Maplin, please, no more crap 'tp-link' kit please, huh? A better range of tools perhaps? And £30 for a basic video cable - seriously??

    You died a death because you went down the route of selling more and more cheap and nasty consumer crap, something you can't compete with eBay and Amazon for that stuff.

    1. Stuart Halliday

      Re: Offline

      They had cables for £4.95...

      They had better stuff than TP-Link. You're choice to buy it or not.

      In virtually all areas they offered a basic (1 year guarantee) , standard (2 year guarantee) or high quality (lifetime guarantee) item.

      You just needed to ask the benefits from a member of Staff.

      We were never given incentives to sell one brand over another.

  35. Haku

    First Tandy goes then eventually Maplins.

    Where am I going to get my disco lights from now??

    1. Stuart Halliday

      Re: First Tandy goes then eventually Maplins.

      Menkind?

  36. The Godfather
    WTF?

    Is it worth it?

    To those familiar with Maplin Electronics, it's attractiveness and value began to dissipate back in 2005 with massive amounts of debt and banking covenants that demanded a sale price high enough to achieve 50%+ gross margins. At the point of failure in 2018, its online sales were less than 15%.

    1. Stuart Halliday

      Re: Is it worth it?

      Staff were told Maplin was debt free in 2016.

      Their Web site was abysmal though. They couldn't get it into their head that the search function had to work.

      We in store couldn't find items we knew we sold by using the site!

      They didn't have a way to build a search list for an item for example. They didn't use electronic experts adding alternative words for components.

      It was a right mess.

      I suggested allowing staff to add search tags to items. Nope.

  37. Stuart Halliday

    Worked in a Maplin store for 8 years.

    Sure, the prices weren't the cheapest. But at least they weren't crap or forged.

    We'd hear from the local Police about raids on local phone shops selling counterfeit cables and chargers. We'd get customers coming in with fakes virtually every day.

    Maplin wasn't a Saint, it used to place cheap cables at the far reaches of the store, well away from the cable walls.

    We were instructed to not mention this unless the customer specifically asked for cheaper versions. I'd usually listen to the customer needs and explain the differences between a £4.95 HDMI lead and a £9.95 one. Basically reliability.

    Most customers had no idea how technology worked, so I could see how other shops would sell them £90 HDMI for example. But in our shop we never up-sold beyond their needs.

    We were told that Maplin was no longer in debt back in July 2017. So we were astonished to learn of its closure.

    It did have a typical British old fashioned mindset and had no idea how to run a modern mail-order Internet business.

    It hates selling the tiny electronic components as it had a minimum stock level of 2 on parts. Sure, a small amount on something you may need 10 of. But you were probably the only person that year to want it.

    Most staff were hired on the basis of their youth. I was an exception at 48. They were given much higher standard of training than most retail shops. You wouldn't believe how stupidity low retail training is from the likes of Google, Amazon, etc is provided.

    I was a long standing Electronic professional so I'd be roped into dealing with customers who had no idea what a transistor is. But still needed one or it's equivalent.

    In our shop we took pride in getting the right thing for a customer. Even the idiots trying to kill themselves because they thought they understood what they were doing.

    I personally miss helping folks out. So many folks over 50 or under 30 have no idea how technology works. We at least were there to give unbiased advice and the right product for them.

    No other shop in Britain did this.

  38. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    It's ALIVE!!!!! (nearly)

    I just randomly checked: https://www.maplin.co.uk/

    And there's a holding page for the new venture. The background vid makes it looks like they'll be selling gadgets and accessories.

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