High Street chain collapse sweepstake

Dr Lobster*
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Tue 27 Dec, 2011 23.42

the dailymail are running a story today claiming that some big names on the high street are close to collapse.

should you wish to do so you can read the incredibly insightful article here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... -boom.html

so, which 3 big chains do you think will fold within the next 3 months?

here's my 3:

1) HMV
2) Game
3) Little Chef

Over to you!
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iSon
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Wed 28 Dec, 2011 00.27

Would have to agree with you on HMV - if they are shrewd enough I'm sure they would ensure their online service is spun off as it is a good retailer online and you can at least find some things cheaper than the usual suspects.

Still think WHSmith could struggle over the next few months. Again, talking of spinning off, it wouldn't surprise me if they announce they are to focus on their travel and hospital side of the business and exit the high street in order to cut their losses. In a competitive environment they just don't offer value for money but in places like train stations, service stations, hospitals they could easily prosper as there's often no other choice.

Finally, I'm sure Comet has been on borrowed time for a while now. Although again, I think this is a business that could still do well online. I notice they've recently launched an ebay store and have been talking about how good their website is and phone apps etc so it seems like they're putting a large emphasis on their online side of things as opposed to punters on the high street.

So, perhaps a rather optimistic view from me as it may not result in any companies going completely but would result in major cutbacks and an exit from the high street. However, it's all just my view and I think those companies are equally as likely to go into administration completely.

In summary:

1) HMV
2) WHSmith
3) Comet
Good Lord!
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Nick Harvey
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Wed 28 Dec, 2011 00.34

Comet and Boots look like pretty good bets.
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WillPS
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Wed 28 Dec, 2011 03.22

Great topic!
Dr Lobster* wrote: 1) HMV
2) Game
3) Little Chef
Whilst I agree all 3 are moribund, I'd say the latter 2 have more time left. GAME has carved out a niche for itself with midnight openings and becoming the destination for clueless gift-buyers. Little Chef has launched a third relaunch format (the first being Heston's), I think they've got a couple of years left in them.[pedantic]Little Chef aren't on the High Street either.[/pedantic]
iSon wrote:Would have to agree with you on HMV - if they are shrewd enough I'm sure they would ensure their online service is spun off as it is a good retailer online and you can at least find some things cheaper than the usual suspects.

Still think WHSmith could struggle over the next few months. Again, talking of spinning off, it wouldn't surprise me if they announce they are to focus on their travel and hospital side of the business and exit the high street in order to cut their losses. In a competitive environment they just don't offer value for money but in places like train stations, service stations, hospitals they could easily prosper as there's often no other choice.

Finally, I'm sure Comet has been on borrowed time for a while now. Although again, I think this is a business that could still do well online. I notice they've recently launched an ebay store and have been talking about how good their website is and phone apps etc so it seems like they're putting a large emphasis on their online side of things as opposed to punters on the high street.

So, perhaps a rather optimistic view from me as it may not result in any companies going completely but would result in major cutbacks and an exit from the high street. However, it's all just my view and I think those companies are equally as likely to go into administration completely.

In summary:

1) HMV
2) WHSmith
3) Comet
I think it's likely that HMV Group will sink altogether, but the brand will resurface online in the same way Zavvi has. It's possible that the mail order side of the business will end up being rescued from administration I guess.

WHSmith are still profitable and expanding, but they're going to need to make some tough decisions if they want to see out the decade.

Comet is a better guess but then the fact a sale has gone through would imply the buyer expects them to remain unprofitable in the short term at least, unlikely to collapse - I think the plan may indeed be to reduce the store portfolio in the coming months.
Nick Harvey wrote:Comet and Boots look like pretty good bets.
Boots seem to be scraping by okay - they were in a perilous position this time a decade or two ago but I think they've refocussed sufficiently to weather the present storm. Of course their nonsense gifts have fallen flat on their arse this year - but that was a boon which couldn't last; I don't think these propped the chain up though.

HMV, La Senza and Blacks are all absolutely on the brink as we speak. Respectively, I expect HMV to 'do a Zavvi', La Senza to be snapped up by a larger clothes retailer (Debenhams?) and become an in-store brand (perhaps Paphetis might buy some of the stores for Boux Avenue?) and the good bits of Blacks to be cherry-picked by Mike Ashley and rolled in to Sports Direct.

So I'll take
  1. La Senza
  2. HMV
  3. JJB Sports
On the grounds that whilst collapse is certain (and has been a long time coming) for Blacks it's not clear that all their stores will disappear.
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Pete
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Wed 28 Dec, 2011 08.36

Boots also have the advantage of being propped up by their pharmaceutical manufacturing business and have, iirc, recently been bought out by a rather large private equity company,

Comet however, I feel has been living on borrowed time for years now.
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marksi
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Wed 28 Dec, 2011 09.29

WHSmith has just sold all it's Northern Ireland stores to Eason. Eason bought all the NPO stores a few years ago. As we don't have Rymans or Staples in NI, this leaves Eason as the sole stationery retailer here.
Andrew
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Wed 28 Dec, 2011 13.15

You should visit the Digital Spy forums if you want more on this topic, the general discussion forum seems obsessed with discussing who will be the next to go.

The rule over there seems to be basically if you can buy it cheaper either online or cheaper on the high street or it is available in a supermarket then they will close down, so basically Comet, Currys, PC World, WHSmiths, Boots, Argos, Clintons, HMV, BHS, JJB Sports...
all new Phil
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Wed 28 Dec, 2011 16.12

I'd love John Lewis to collapse, if only to prevent the smug interviews they give saying how well they're doing and how it's all down to their staff and all that guff. Absolute shite store, I think, with a boring brand and annoying adverts.

But realistically, I've thought for a few years that BHS must be on their last legs, as they never seem busy. Same goes for Homebase. I'll say them.
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m-in-m
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Wed 28 Dec, 2011 17.57

all new Phil wrote:I'd love John Lewis to collapse, if only to prevent the smug interviews they give saying how well they're doing and how it's all down to their staff and all that guff. Absolute shite store, I think, with a boring brand and annoying adverts.

But realistically, I've thought for a few years that BHS must be on their last legs, as they never seem busy. Same goes for Homebase. I'll say them.
I can' t see John Lewis collapsing. They are careful to expand at a sustainable rate. I also believe that through their Partnership model and with profits being shared with staff in an annual bonus encourages staff to provide better service than is average on the High Street - though I am not claiming it to be the best.

BHS I can't see collapsing. They have been bringing in the likes of Burton's, Evans and Dorothy Perkins etc in to stores. This reduces the groups rent costs as in some areas they have been closing the retails stores for each brand. The concern I do have is that some of their stores can now be very confusing.
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Nick Harvey
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Wed 28 Dec, 2011 18.01

I think Homebase and the rest of the DIY stores are fairly safe for a while, since Focus went under and B&Q only bought a few of the stores, just in towns where they didn't already have a presence. Additionally, as long as we stay this close to recession and as long as mortgages are this difficult to obtain, the option people will take is home improvement rather than buying new and bigger.

As to John Lewis (and Waitrose), I simply cannot understand why anybody would ever set foot over their over-priced thresholds, especially in the current economic climate. I know a few "Waitrose, Marlborough, stalwarts" who gave up on them this Christmas and went to M&S Simply Food because, at least M&S just about understand the concept of a "special offer".
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lukey
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Wed 28 Dec, 2011 18.03

I'd also doubt that Game will go. Their two store formats (Game/Gamestation) pretty much have it cornered between them, and the preowned trade is probably doing relatively well for them, even if it continues to upset publishers. Their numbers have been pretty poor lately but I can imagine they could conceive of a way to keep operating....

HMV however baffle me. Again, I'd have thought being one of the last major bricks and mortar CD/DVD/BD chains would have given them some way of soaking up a lot of impulse trade if not much else, and yet instead they've decided to refocus on selling tech gear. I wander about HMV a fair bit and yet I don't think I have ever witnessed anyone buying tech stuff beyond earphones there, and yet its expanded to be about a third of the store. It just means they execute a self-fulfilling prophecy of not selling (for example) so many CDs, so reduce their footprint in the store, meaning there's so few CDs even the people who would go there for music can't find what they're looking for so don't even bother.
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