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SNACR

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Everything posted by SNACR

  1. I'm almost certain Alan Sugar will be one of those landlords. That lease obligation figure must be the cumulative rent until the leases expire so a large part not a current liability. Will still be the rent increase and not the sales decreases that are killing them. A phrase bandied around at the moment is for retailers it's been death by rent review, but for landlords it'll be death by void rates.
  2. Henry hoover the way to go for never buying another vacuum cleaner. Made in Britain too (I think).
  3. I pulled the plug on customer orders and now we just process the order through the website, if there's stock, or let the business go if there isn't. You would struggle to find a more potent recipe for aggravating/letting down customers than customer orders.
  4. Shoppers without cars aren't too lucrative as are generally low income. Also can only cart a limited amount of stuff home on the bus. What you describe about staff instore neatly encapsulates the largest and most intractable problem that retailers face. Unfortunately it's far from a simply fix. It's how you end up fighting with price driven giveaways as there's less scope for them cocking it up.
  5. Not 100% on this, but pretty sure Sugar is a big landlord of Woolies. He would have an interest in buying shares to prop them up. The stores being empty and void rates and remarketing costs would be bad news financially for him. Have a bit of respect for Sugar, but is likely to be most credit crunch vulnerable of business celebs. Commercial property is toxic it's turned from asset to liability. Other business celebs may have problems and it'll be very difficult for them to ditch loads of staff with a media profile and the tabloids looking for their next Jonathan Ross.
  6. Even they are not unaffected. Their margins are very tight as they will work on some of the thinnest. One we'll known pound shop chain will pay up to 67p to retail at a pound. Bear in mind that's 85p once the vat's come off. Leaves very little room for manoevre.
  7. Wrong time for rents so it must be payroll going out shortly. Xmas gear always at least 70% gross which means you can half price in Jan and still be grossing nearly 40%. Always been the case can usually buy three cans of deodorant for the same price as one can in an acetate box with a motiffed face flannel. All mug's eyeful stuff.
  8. Your wish may come true possibility is much more likely than received opinion realises. Woolworths should have been put out of its misery years ago was probably unturnroundable. Have always beens suspicious of the BBC Worldwide EUK tie-up has a certain government bailout whiff.
  9. There product range is pretty susceptible to the contraction in credit and you can never be sure, but I'd still consider them one of the least likely retailers to go. They're always off the main drag so are probably not exposed to the ridiculous rent increases everyone else has been (they may have freeholds). Although, surprise, surprise Estate Agents have pushed rents up quite significantly in some of the more off pitch type locations they're in (called tertiary locations in the trade). That's Estate Agents who haved leased premises for themselves to occupy not rented to other people.
  10. Sorry, meant to say before I don't think that new independents will rise from the ashes. Quite a few poor souls will probably squander their redundancy on opening coffee shops, nail bars etc that will be ultimately doomed. There's no longer the infrastructure for independents to get going most of the wholesalers and distributors have gone or are in fast decline and there's no way single shops, other than perhaps furniture, can go direct to the Far East. Your experience shopping bears out what I was saying. The best customers know what they want and just want to come in and quietly buy it. All to often staff can obstruct this. I often ask staff have you been busy today and they'll say 'yes I've cleaned this, tidied that and re-ticketed something else. I mean have you been busy with your primary function and wage funding activity ie selling things. Unfortunately, they often see serving customers and selling things tiresome and tangential to other activities. Fairly surprised about Maplins though, usually have customer service and product knowledge a good step above average (attract geeks with a genuine product interest). The private equity spivs have been in at Maplins though doubt they'll make it through, vastly over-expanded for what is a very specialist product range predominantly. Mail order business might see it through if it could dispose of a lot of retail shops. I would predict hobby/project things could do quite well if loads of people are sat unemployed at home. Allegedly Airfix models have been strong recently mostly purchased by adults, perhaps people regress at times of uncertainty.
  11. I could easily start a huge long rant about the government's 'Rip Off Britain' campaign. The public took to it like a 'four legs good, two legs bad' mantra. IMO that was ground zero for a widespread obsession with prices and a lurch away from local independents. I doubt the penny will ever drop, with the public, that while they were hoovering up cheap imports they were simultaneously vaporising their own livelihoods. A lot of UK manufacturers, in the face of a flood of cheap imports, made the mistake of refusing to deal direct with retailers in an attempt to shore up their historical supply chain of wholesalers and distributors. In the end it was a mutually destructive miscalculation for them. Many of those that did deal direct with retailers chose to deal almost exclusively with a couple of the big grocers. I remember, years ago, one MD ringing me to say he could no longer supply me as he was gearing up only to deal with one very large grocery chain and couldn't do smaller runs anymore. I told him it was just a brain-sucking exercise and that once they'd establised the fast-movers and the volumes they'd just go and source it themselves. He said he'd got firm assurances they were comitted to making him a premier partner. Eighteen months later I was walking round his factory buying the inventory from the administrator after they were delisted with one months notice.
  12. Exactly, and if theres a bolt missing you've got to sit all day waiting for a carrier to uplift the bike. If you buy it from the local independent cycle retailer, you just pop down and he'll give you a bolt out of his spares box. IMHO the scope for shopping and the value of advertising on the internet are both grossly overvalued compared to more traditional forms at the moment.
  13. A lot of friends from university lost their jobs in the dotcom crash, struggled to find work with their skillset and emigrated to the countries you mention. Most came back. I agree, my gut feeling is it'll be a long haul to the bounce back. So many of stepping stones back to economic prosperity seem to have been kicked away.
  14. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating contempt for customers or being overly selective there are plenty of profitable oddball customers out there. What I am saying is that opening the door to haggling is a bad idea and has ramifications, particularly for a multiple retailer. There's nothing wrong with how you suggest you dealt with customers, but there is an issue with difficult customers monopolising staff's time and the staff missing the bigger sales and more valuable customers. A retailer isn't a public service and has no obligation to give every customer an equal amount of attention. I would recommend becoming known for the utmost helpfulness if you're an independent owner-manager type business. That level of service is only really sustainable for owner-managers it's much harder for multiples who have a revolving door of staff. The best service by a multiple is openly acknowledged to be John Lewis. However, it's actually owned by the staff as a mini version of the Soviet Union which alters motivation. It's ironic that John Lewis follows a communist model of ownership and has some of the highest income customers. Whereas Asda Walmart is arguably the strongest proponent of Anglo-Saxon capitalism and has a customer base with a large chunk dependent on state handouts. No business can capture every bit of business across every demographic and you can go badly wrong trying. There is a minority of customers who are exceptionally difficult and can never be converted into profitable customers. Even if you secure their loyal, lifelong patronage the profit they generate will never cover the wear and tear they'll inflict on your carpet.
  15. My feeling is always that the people are a lot more friendly and pleasant in the poorer areas, also a lot more sense of community. Most miserable po-faced people seem to be in executive commuter towns where they have to pedal so hard to keep their four-bed detached and 4x4 that it makes them miserable.
  16. Don't worry our wonder government has been on the case. I think the OFT ruled schools cannot stipulate a preferred supplier of school uniform to not discourage hard working families from sending their kids there. It's hit a lot of small businesses who specialise in low volumes of unique school uniforms. From now on all school uniforms come from Asda with a picture of Coleen McLoughlin embroidered on the breast pocket instead of a crest.
  17. Obviously with ASBO kids, but in this case it was a pensioner and the action was effective and freed up the time of a staff member who was probably a £18k+ overhead. That's ok just fight back in someone else's store. We don't do extended warranties, but if you don't want one 'no thanks' is a phrase you might find usefully deployed. I might consider banning hair gel as part of uniform policy though.
  18. Unfortunately, amongst large corporates you're very much the odd one out if you're not carrying at least £1bn of debt.
  19. Unfortunately retail staff are always on the frontline when people who wish they were more important are looking for someone to feel superior to.
  20. Quite right, letting problem customers go and aggravate your competitors is good news for your bottom line and bad news for theirs. It's a catastrophic decision to ever appear desperate for business at any cost. There's a general assumption, amongst people, that any public-facing business that does not bend to their every whim must be a badly run business. Doing so is not treating with contempt, but calling time on their own irrational behaviour. I worked for a grocery chain that took over another chain and was tasked with looking at various departments to see if they could be cutback. In the customer care dept there was boxfiles of correspondence from one elderly gentleman with endless complaints all ridiculously trivial. For example 'I bought a 500g box of cereal and it only weighs 470g'. A woman in the dept was spending virtually her whole time diligently responding to his letters with profuse apologies and money off vouchers. Clearly this was ridiculous and the vouchers were just encouraging him. I then wrote to him and barred him from the store and informed if he was found in the store it would be considered trespass. The last letter received from him was a rather pathetic one begging to be let back in the store, as it was the only supermarket in town, and he was reduced to having to get friends to do shopping for him. I responded that he could return to the store on the proviso there were no further complaints. There weren't and I think the lesson was learned. This is not treating customers with contempt. If I had contempt for them I'd call them 'punters' (and many retail people do). Do unto to others and all that. I don't mind serious negotiations with serious customers who say want a quantity discount. However, they can all too often go along the lines of: Customer: Can you do a quantity discount? Retailer: Possibly, how many do you want? Customer: Two I also agree that an obsession with the minutae of costs holds quite a few people back from spending their time most profitably and hitting the big time. I think a lot of business books churned out by 'business experts' spew out this sort of nonsense or guff about saving paperclips from incoming mail and re-using them thus slashing that major annual paperclip overhead. Yes, negotiate on rent, but paperclips, no.
  21. Swindon is a retail disaster loads of big name stuff on the market on confidentially available staff unaware basis. New Look on Regent St as just one example. Far, far too much retail space in Swindon of which I'd be very surprised if any retailer has turned a decent profit. Brunel centre a particular disaster, it was Westfield but they sold out. I would be very surprised if House of Fraser have ever paid rent and a lot of it seems to be a revolving door of independent start-ups and I think the old T K Maxx unit's got a charity shop temp in. My guess is Swindon will have a greatly above average number of empty shops.
  22. I've just looked at actual sales figures from Bluewater. I ignore those and definitely go with what your mum reckons.
  23. In the scenario you describe there'd be more pressing business strategies to discuss than whether or not to launch a 0.75% discount scheme to capture a bigger market share of the mentally ill demographic.
  24. Although it's getting harder good quality product can still be sourced. It's certainly much, much, easier than sourcing good quality staff.
  25. Like everything it's all about balance. Ideally I'd prefer to just sell quality products at fair prices. Unfortunately people are very susceptible to marketing tricks so you have to join in to some degree or get left behind. Primarily I'd recommend good product at a competitive, but not lowest price, coupled with strong availibility and intuitive merchandising and a fair returns policy (not too generous or you'll get butt-f**ked by p**s-takers) should scoop up a good chunk of business. I'm a bit wary of making service too much of a lynch-pin. In my experience, you can end up making a rod for your own back. Service can be very fragile. You've got a regular customer who visits because of the excellent service, then they come in one time and encounter a surly teenage xmas temp and there goes years of work out of the door.
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