back to article Apple reseller Solutions Inc pulls down shutters, calls in administrators

Apple's community of third party sellers shrunk slightly this week when retail chain Solutions Inc shuttered stores and called in an administrative receiver FRP Advisory. The Apple Premium Reseller (APR) closed outlets in Bournemouth, Chelmsford, Chichester, Guildford and St Albans. El Reg understands the Hove HQ remains open …

  1. Lee D Silver badge

    Companies I would not want to work for:

    - Anyone dealing with selling Apple's kit for them.

    - Anyone subject to the whims of a single supplier, and their pricing, etc. (there's virtually no such thing as an Apple discount or profit margin on selling their kit, except second-hand).

    - Any company turning over £12m that can't make a substantial profit (let alone two years of loss!)

    - Any company selling tech that you could easily buy online for the same or a substantially better price.

    - Any company that doesn't file returns in time.

    1. d3vy Silver badge

      "any company that doesn't file accounts on time"

      What relevance has that got to the article?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What relevance has that got to the article?

        Not a lot, but it is relevant to "Companies I would not want to work for" - late filing is never a good sign...

        1. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: What relevance has that got to the article?

          "Not a lot, but it is relevant to "Companies I would not want to work for" - late filing is never a good sign.."

          Maybe but... The company in question haven't missed their filing deadline so it's not relevant to bring up.

          I mean, we could just create an arbitrary list of things we don't like about companies but what relevance would that have?

      2. Roj Blake Silver badge

        Healthy companies always file on time, so that everyone can see that they're healthy.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      They did file their accounts on time. I know it says filing date was 5th April on Companies House, which is 5 days late, but if you look at the date barcode on the bottom of the first scanned page of the accounts, that says 29th March which is 2 days before the deadline. Companies House took a week to scan the accounts and upload them.

      However, look at the last page, where it discloses that there is a risk that the company could go bust. The auditor would have insisted on its presence. That is something to look out for.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I worked for a third party repair/deployment company for Apple int he late 90s. Was OK but costs for kit was insane so in order to many any profile you were basically throwing a chunk on top of an already expensive repair.

      That was back on PowerPCs though which were nice to work on, when Clamshell ibooks and iMacs appeared it got worse and worse..

      Didn't help that we were never allowed to do manual repairs, always had to be modular replacements even if we could see dry joints on boards or damaged components.

      1. Glenn Amspaugh

        Same here; Mom-N-Pop Apple/HP warranty repair place in late 90s. First couple of years, things were great, fueled in part by several school systems support contracts. Also helped there were lots of Apple recalls on monitors and such (popped capacitors plague). Third year, payroll was missed for new year. I left after a couple of months. Later, heard the store had been busted by Apple for doing too many unneeded warranty repairs. Hard business, Apple.

    5. macjules Silver badge

      Totally agree. I am amazed that anyone actually manages to make any money at all with the ridiculous margins that Apple offer their resellers.

    6. Wyrdness

      - Any company with "Solutions" in it's name.

      1. Fading Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Depends.....

        If it was a chemical supply company I wouldn't have a problem with the name......

  2. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Not a surprise.

    A while ago I went to my local Solutions shop to get a battery change in a MBA. I seem to remember that the cost in the Apple shop would have been about £130. The Solutions shop quoted me the Apple price plus labour. I asked how much the labour charge would be and they wouldn't tell me. I acted slightly astonished (because I was) and suggested they give me a not-to-be-exceeded quote; they refused. I asked to see the manager and found out I was already talking to him. What was even odder was the fact that he was surprised when I put the MBA back in bag and left the shop.

    So I went home, booked it in at Apple and dropped it off on the way to a client meeting a couple of days later and picked it up the same evening on the way home.

    I don't mind a local business making a decent living but to leave my MBA hostage with a place that wouldn't even give me a max labour cost is a strange way to think that you can make a living, and, apparently, you can't.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not a surprise.

      That is because Apple don't allow repairs. Thus they were unable to quote you realistically on the price.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Not a surprise.

        It wasn't a repair - it was a battery replacement. I booked the appointment with Solutions through the Apple website because Solutions were an authorized service centre.

        As for not being able to give a price: if it was because they don't know what's involved in changing a battery then they shouldn't be quoting in the first place.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not a surprise.

          Before downvoting me again, look up what is involved for a "Apple authorised" center, even for battery replacement.

          Basically Apple hold them hostage. It's near impossible for them to do anything for customers.

          1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

            Re: Not a surprise.

            @AC

            Whatever is involved in a battery replacement is irrelevant in this case. The point is that they couldn't give me a quote. If they knew what they were doing, and even if Apple made them supply free unicorns to Tim Cook's children every battery change, they should have been able to give me a quote, shouldn't they? Either:

            - they didn't know how to do the battery replacement but were willing to have a go at it and charge me time booked (assuming they didn't knacker my Mac), or

            - they knew it would be so expensive that I'd walk but if they could con me into leaving the Mac without knowing the price I'd have to pay it to get my Mac back, or

            - the Apple website made a mistake and sent me to a service centre which was not authorized to do battery replacements but the bloke didn't tell me this and thought he could wing it somehow and get me to pay.

            I can't think of any other reasons for them not telling me the price and any one of the reasons above was good enough for me to resolve never to go there again.

            (I didn't downvote you).

  3. djstardust

    Apple prices .....

    I was in John Lewis having a look today. Apple pricing is quite frankly ridiculous. It's no wonder 3rd parties are struggling to sell.

    £149 for a small Macbook leather slide in case. they MUST be having a laugh!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apple prices .....

      Yes, but... I was talking to someone who thinks $15,000 for a handbag is ok...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Apple prices .....handbags

        Some leather goods really are in the "having a laugh...oh, you are very rich and stupid...worth every penny" variety, but companies like Mulberry and Dents really do put a huge amount of skilled labour into their products. The question is whether you want to pay for hand work or machine work. "Because I can" may even be a legitimate reason.

        I'm pretty clear in my mind that anybody who pays hand work prices for machine work is a mug.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Apple prices .....handbags

          companies like Mulberry and Dents really do put a huge amount of skilled labour into their products

          Out of polite curiosity, how much do the likes of Mulbery keep per handbag and how much do the skilled workers get?

          Y'know, just askin'......

  4. Dave Clarke 5

    No Margin

    Back in 2005 I had a PC shop in a small market town. Sold Windows desktops, laptops, printer ink etc. We looked in to selling Apple stuff as well but the terms were too restrictive and the margin only 3% so we didn't bother. I'm sure little has changed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least for grey market...

      It has not changed. No idea what Argos make on them, but anyone smaller, doesn't make anything.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No Margin

      Yet in the USA companies like Adorama sell lots and lots of Apple kit well below the MSRP.

      They have been in business for years and seem to make a profit all right.

      We are forced to pay full retail prices for Apple here in the UK. I don't see any discounter offering more than a few quid off the retail price.

      As for Solutions Inc they did a repair to my 2012 MacBook and like the example they wanted to add a hefty labour charge on top of the price. When they didn't repair it after three weeks, I took the laptop back and took it to an Apple Store. They did the repair in four days and no hefty labour charge.

      As a result it is no surprise that Solutions Inc have gone bust. Sad for the employees but... sometimes life sucks a lot.

      1. itzumee

        Re: No Margin

        “We are forced to pay full retail prices for Apple here in the UK. I don't see any discounter offering more than a few quid off the retail price”

        Last years model iPhones and iPads are discounted by UK shops - got my 128GB iPhone 6S for £529 from CPW when the 7 was announced; new 2017 iPad WiFi + cellular 128GB bought from Argos eBay store for £299 just before Christmas last year, that’s a big discount on the £500+ retail price of the 2018 model which offers nothing more than a slightly faster CPU and Apple Pencil support.

  5. karlkarl Bronze badge

    I have heard that Maplin used to refer a lot of business to Solutions, especially when it involved Apple hardware.

    I wouldn't be surprised that closure of Solutions isn't partly a knockon effect from Maplins closing down.

  6. hamiltoneuk

    It's very sad but you have to sell a lot of apples to make a bean.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If this was an Android reseller, Google would have blamed adblockers by now.

    As ever, the in-store sales droids will be the ones that suffer, the 'executive' level sales scum will no doubt have had their bonuses paid last week.

  8. Chronos Silver badge
    Big Brother

    One wonders...

    ...if employees' personal effects left on site are really company property or could said employees have a case for theft of said personal effects? Perhaps employees returning isn't the only reason the police may be called...

    Icon. Well there isn't a fat bastard with a cigar sitting on a pile of money and employee corpses icon so I had to go with the authoritarian angle.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One wonders...

      Nope.Theft Act 1968 :: A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it

      Just because you cannot have it now does not make it theft, especially as they have stated to email in and things will be sent out.

      Locking the offices until the auditors get in to catalogue everything is standard practice, especially when aggrieved people might think taking a the company laptop home is a good hostage for their bonus/wages etc

      X

      1. Chronos Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: One wonders...

        Damn, that was a bit knee-jerk on my part, wasn't it? Well spotted, Mr/Ms X. Have a beer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: One wonders...

          Damn, that was a bit knee-jerk on my part, wasn't it?

          You're welcome to join me in my "Post in haste, repent at leisure" self un-help group?

          1. Chronos Silver badge

            Re: One wonders...

            In defence of grumpy old gits, we are accustomed to the worst possible outcome after so much direct empirical evidence. Still, at least we have the residual decency to apologise when it happens :)

    2. Glenn Amspaugh

      Re: One wonders...

      Picture scenario, Monday morning: "All right folks, we're shutting down. No separation bonuses, no two-week compensation. Everyone, ya gots 15 minutes to grab your personal stuff and get out."

      Five minutes later, bare shelves with just a tumbleweed blowing through.

      1. Uberior

        Re: One wonders...

        The chances of the Police turning up when a keyholder let themselves in to collect their own stuff is very slim indeed.

      2. goats in pajamas

        Re: One wonders...

        I've seen something similar happen. A project given a few weeks to live saw some of the employees walking out with arms full of gear. Some making repeat journeys. A real kick in the teeth for the honest people because nothing was done about it. If you need/intend stock to be used to offset debt, then an instant, no prior notice lockdown is necessary.

        1. Annihilator
          Coat

          Re: One wonders...

          "A project given a few weeks to live saw some of the employees walking out with arms full of gear. Some making repeat journeys"

          Wheelie-chairs work as a great make-shift trolley. And if God didn't want you to 'appropriate' printers, he wouldn't have put them on wheels.

        2. Chronos Silver badge

          Re: One wonders...

          I think this is, in a nutshell, why I didn't understand it. I'll joke about a little light theft employee (which of you thieving bastards has my red stapler this time?) but I could no more do it than set my own damned head on fire. For the same reason many of us make incredibly poor teachers, I can't ascribe to others the traits that make them the sort of people who would quite happily trot out with the departmental colour laser under their arm.

          Yes, it would be a kick to the honest, but a little lower down than the teeth. Now, if it were manglement wandering out with half the assets, that I can fully envisage, including coercing subordinate employees to pack the lease-hire Lexus to the point that the pot-bellied, balding golfist can't see through the rear window. Quite what he's going to do with a load of Citrix thin clients is another debate for another time...

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: One wonders...

            Yeah, I agree. I had the same reaction as you when I read the article: "I've lost my job without warning, the building is still there, my card-key still works, yet the petty bastards won't even let me fetch back my belongings"

            In fact, I more or less did that with one job - I had to give up work at the time due to illness, and one weekend, after I'd "left", I popped in, collected all my stuff, and left my card key and other company stuff in the boses drawer.

            I'd left it unti the weekend specifically to avoid other people, and all the fuss from people saying they were sorry to see me go etc. (unsociable bastard at the time)

            I never thought anything about it, and the company never mentioned it.

            I suppose it was different because I wasn't sacked or made reduntant due to closures etc. but still, in hindsight I could have left that ICL building with booty... Just would never have crossed my mind!

            Mind you, if I'd left under worse circumstances, it's more likely my cardkey would have been cancelled...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One wonders...

      if employees' personal effects left on site are really company property or could said employees have a case for theft of said personal effects?

      Well, since the article says the company are offering to send personal possessions to the owners I would guess not.

      Presumably they're paranoid about the potential for "shrinkage" in remaining stock on the premises, or maybe a bit of employee retribution for the way they've been treated.

  9. chivo243 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    It didn't happen overnight

    Apple keeps close tabs on all of its associates and their doings. Manglement was fully aware this is coming. I feel for the redundant workers.

  10. Richard 51

    Seems odd that a company with sales of 12m GBP and a loss of 200K goes bust, presumably little or no working capital which is the real killer?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Purchasing?

      If they cannot purchase, then how can they sell? Guess once the lending/cashflow/etc goes, then it all goes. A bit like airlines/travel agencies.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in the mid-90's, we started selling Mac clones, just to see if we could develop a new niche. Apple then pulled the ability for 3rd parties to buy OS licenses, and when we inquired as to what it would take to sell "official" Apple, and we were told that we would have to stock $50,000 in inventory (1996 dollars), and have an Apple Certified Engineer on the staff. Naw...

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Not surprised.

    The Chichester bunch are bunch of chancers. My G/F took her Macbook there after it developed a problem while I was away, and they were insistent that "after expert diagnostics" that it needed a new mainboard and hard drive at some fairly extortionate and padded out cost.

    All it actually needed was a hard reboot which took me about 10 mins when I got home.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not surprised.

      Seems the main response for most Apple repairs. :/

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple are slowly losing their stranglehold. Even the most blinkered evangelists are going to start having their doubts sooner rather than later. Forcing their resellers out of business, neglecting developer resources, laughable cloud services, ridiculous acquisitions and not innovating are all playing their part. Like him or loathe him, they are not the same company without Steve.

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