High Street chain collapse sweepstake

Martin Phillp
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There are two local main post offices to me, one operated by Post Office Ltd, the other by WHSmith.

The PO Ltd branch has done everything to stay open during Covid even if it's meant they've closed at 3pm in the early days although it's back to normal opening hours now.

WHSmith on the other hand has now been closed twice now with it being "temporarily closed" currently. They also got approval to close the PO on Saturday's at 12.30pm from the beginning of January.

One of the reasons why WHSmith got approval for taking over the main PO as a concession was the improved opening hours on a Saturday afternoon.
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WillPS
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cwathen wrote: Tue 26 Jan, 2021 11.49
Martin Phillp wrote: Fri 04 Dec, 2020 21.08 The Post Office model didn't work for WHSmith in Blackpool, it's closing in January, along with the store in Chorley.

https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/busi ... re-3056272
Really highlights the folly of mass closures of crown POs in city/town centres. It is understandable when sub post offices are put into shops (as has already been done for decades) but this is different to closing main post offices in favour of a concession in Smiths. Of course the business case will be argued but the business case will always be there because it will always be cheaper vs maintaining a dedicated Post Office. That is entirely different to a PO being unviable to operate.

If WHSmith pull out of a town (or if they eventually close their high street division altogether to focus on more profitable parts of the operation which I wouldn't entirely rule out), suddenly Post Office has to rush around finding someone else to take them. And although a lot of the WHSmith POs aren't bad (in some cases even an improvement - although on the other hand some of them are awful) it is hard to think of another national chain with enough stores which could accomodate so much floor space and be willing to dedicate so much branding to it, which makes it unlikely the same quality of offering can be made outside of WHSmith.

The end result could be major city centres where the Post Office is a small space with one counter at the back of a local newsagents and which people unfamiliar with the area would struggle to find.
I agree to some extent, medium to large cities deserve to have a Post Office which is more than 4 self-service machines and 3 windows at the back of a Smiths in a shopping centre (which is what Nottingham have had since the Crown branch shut). The location is arguably better but that's all you can say for it.

The Sheffield standalone Crown branch closed years ago and moved in to the nearby Co-op Department Store, from which it continued to trade 5 or so years beyond the Department Store's closure. Externally it was hardly visible but I think it did the job just fine. They then transferred in to a nearby Wilko, which again worked just fine. It was possibly the largest branch of Wilko that I know though, it'd be hard to see a Post Office accommodated in their smaller busy shops. I'm not sure if this is a full on Smiths style management jobby, or if it is a Crown Post Office; I assume the latter because the staff were still trying to sell me crap broadband the last time I used it (to buy a VED disc when they were still a thing, 2014!).

To be honest, I don't really mind too much who owns/manages Post Offices, just that they are specified better than the tiny provisions Smiths seem to get away with.
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Martin Phillp
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The Crown PO in Beckenham was specifically built to be as a post office, but they moved it into the tiny WHSmith on the high street.

The WHSmith PO where I live started off with five windows. It's now been reduced to two to increase retail space.
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Martin Phillp
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Paperchase saved, but 37 stores won't reopen after lockdown.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/breaking ... 3345345?8=
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GeekyJames
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I wonder what's going to happen to all the Debenhams stores around the country, it's gonna leave some pretty big gaps in city centres - especially in shopping centres where they were the anchor store. Should the government be doing more to support stores and the High Street in general?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... igh-street
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WillPS
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GeekyJames wrote: Sun 31 Jan, 2021 18.02 I wonder what's going to happen to all the Debenhams stores around the country, it's gonna leave some pretty big gaps in city centres - especially in shopping centres where they were the anchor store. Should the government be doing more to support stores and the High Street in general?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... igh-street
Debenhams is a business which has only itself to blame for its demise, same as Woollies.

There is an interesting argument which could be made for some kind of nationalised department store, perhaps with the individual department lent out to concessions - but:
a) I don't think such a venture is at all likely
b) it'd make more sense to start it from scratch (taking on leases on the cheap) rather than buying out any of the existing chains with all their baggage.
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all new Phil
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You tend to hear that rent and rates price a lot of shops off the high street. I’ve never really understood why this is the case and why you don’t seem to see councils intervene to make the high street more viable. It feels like everything that would make sense to save the high street (including lowering prices of parking) doesn’t seem to happen. I don’t understand it.
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WillPS
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all new Phil wrote: Sun 31 Jan, 2021 20.08 You tend to hear that rent and rates price a lot of shops off the high street. I’ve never really understood why this is the case and why you don’t seem to see councils intervene to make the high street more viable. It feels like everything that would make sense to save the high street (including lowering prices of parking) doesn’t seem to happen. I don’t understand it.
I don't buy it. Department stores have always paid big rates bills, that hasn't changed, and hasn't caught them by surprise. What has changed is their other costs - some beyond their control (minimum wage rising) but some entirely within their control (sale and leaseback arrangements which netted executives huge bonuses in the 00s).

There is some argument for rates to be relieved as a temporary measure more flexibly, but even if they were reduced to 0 this would only be a temporary reprieve, you can't keep going with declining sales forever. What would be next? Waivers on Employers NI?

There has to be a line drawn somewhere.

Debenhams isn't a major draw any more; for all the rose-tinted opinion pieces I read, the reality is these places, bar their cafés in some cases, are much deader than the high streets and malls they occupy space in. It is better that they are allowed to fail and be replaced by a business with a better chance of sustainably meeting its civic responsibilities.
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bilky asko
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The only time I ever went to Debenhams in its later years was to look round its incredibly expensive Christmas gifting range, and see what they had in that year that was less than half the price in Tesco's seasonal range.
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Martin Phillp
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I wonder if stores similar to The Range would take on some of the ex Debenhams leases? They took on the ex Debenhams in Surrey Quays Shopping Centre.
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Martin Phillp
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While ASOS has acquired Topshop and Topman without any stores, the Standard is speculating that they may keep the flagship London Oxford Street store open, which would be their first bricks and mortar outlet.

https://www.standard.co.uk/business/lei ... 1612198804
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