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Maplin seeks buyer as it seeks move into smart home installation

HIGH STREET electronics chain Maplin is in crunch talks to find a buyer as it becomes the latest potential collapse in retail.

The company, legendary for carrying not just devices but also components making it the only prosumer store of its type, has been struggling in recent years as so much of its target customer base orders online.

It is reported by Sky News that the company is currently unable to obtain credit and is only able to buy its stock outright, which puts it in a vulnerable position if it, for example, orders 10,000 of the wrong type of product that then fails to sell in a market that is constantly in flux.

Rutland Partners, which has rescued a number of chains in the UK and which took control of the company in 2014, is in discussions with potential buyers with the company pitching to reinvent itself as a smart home specialist, including installation as well as retail.

The “2020 Vision Strategy” will see Maplin pushing against the ‘hands off’ approach of the likes of Amazon, instead offering to take people from sale to installation to aftercare.

As a retail business, Maplin has struggled to compete with online retailers, with many people (us included) using it to find what they need and then go off and buy it cheaper online (a practice known in retail circles as “warehousing”). To survive, therefore, Maplin will have to add a value proposition beyond just selling stuff.

Although in recent years, Maplin has also been carrying more accessible ranges including electronic toys and computer peripherals, it is still seen by many as a place where nerds congregate to buy CB radios and capacitors.

Even with the rise of the slightly “cooler” Raspberry Pi and BBC micro:bit, people are still sourcing parts online.

It’s also never been great at communicating its stock – we always have to beg to get their Black Friday deals for our roundups, such is their reticence with PR.

It is understood that Maplin believes it will be a “solvent sale”, that is to say, it will be bought without going into administration.

One possible buyer is reported to be Edinburgh Woollen Mill who previously turned around the fortunes of clothing line Peacocks.

Worst case scenario, the company believes it can arrange a so-called “pre-pack” arrangement where it goes into administration with a rescue buyer already lined up to cherry-pick the viable parts of the business. µ

Source : Inquirer

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