About Me

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No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Monday, April 23, 2018

D is for Death . . . of a Toysaurus.

Or - The bigger they come - the harder they fall.

Not really news; it's been all over the media but I was visiting Woking the other day and popped into the Toysaurus for what will be the last time, and it was a sorry site, I can't imagine they had actually sold everything on the miles of empty shelves, so I guess a lot had been sent back under sale-or-return deals and other stock had probably been shifted in bulk clearance deals to wholesalers,  sold-on to bigger evilBay outfits, or sent to those parts of the TRU-empire still trading; if there are any - Australia, HK, some US stores I think?

Following previous posts and 'News, Views . . . ' on the subject here, and the constant talking-up of their future viability by both the UK and US management, the end unfolded with the same rapidity as the sudden autumn collapse.

Miles of empty shelving.

The 1st of February saw the US parent announce it was looking for a buyer for the UK arm, which pretty-much sealed their fate, and could be seen as an act of cowardice on the part of the US had-office, but it was - I'm sure - also designed to protect a core hub of the US stores.

The trouble with Thatcherite-Regonomics is that it is driven by long-knives and short-termism! The beauty of the Victorian 'family firm' model (even when the firm got to be as big as Cadbury - for instance) was that it featured no knives and long-term vision.

No matter, I have little sympathy for the Toysaurus, as I think you know, and for a month there was little more in the media. However, you could see at Christmas, the writing was on the wall, people are simple creatures with a herd instinct, and the autumn headlines, far from driving people into the stores to look for bargains, frightened them away - I went to the same Woking store in Christmas week and it was dead; an early evening a few days before the 25th it should have been heaving!

Beware - loud [yet vacuous] music!

On the last day of February both Toys 'Я' Us and Maplin (a UK out-of-town/mall-based electronics retailer) announced the plug was being pulled, the administrator's spokesman - Simon Thomas - announcing "All stores remain open until further notice . . . " he also encouraged customers to redeem any vouchers and gift cards outstanding (see below) and added that the search for a buyer went on.

Having watched Price Waterhouse Cooper's (PWC) wind-up a business I was involved with, I know that these 'receivers' and administrators just talk bollocks until they've changed all the locks and padlocked everything they can't sell; closing down forums, denying rumours and threatening disgruntled staff or customers with legal action!

With no stock you can leave the stock-room door open!

On the 9th March came news from Moorfields Advisory (the administrators) that stores not included in the Autumn tranche would begin closing the following week and that an 'orderly wind-down' of the company was underway.

Five days later it was announced that the end had come, the company or the UK arm was bust and the remaining 100 stores would start closing - the same day. The whole process to be completed in six-weeks - which is this Wednesday, but I believe they either closed the final stores Friday just gone, or will close them this coming Friday?

Everything was for sale
If I'd had £40 on me I would have had a ladder, they're £100's new!

Of course the broadcast and print media have been blathering on about the death of another high street staple and it took a Michael Cooper to remind the 'i' (Letters - 16th March) that the Toysaurus is not a 'High Street' store! Which is the point I've made in the past, Toys 'Я' Us are among those corporate 'free market' fans who helped damage the high street in the first place.

Furthermore, in the case of the Toysaurus, they helped destroy the world of the 'Toy Men' and create a global behemoth of a few giants, sourcing licensed TV & movie-character driven polymer tat from China, containerised round the world in huge, polluting, vessels while all the little domestic firms went to the wall . . . well; eat your medicine Toysuarus, you've fed it to everyone else.

No you 'ain't!

At the risk of repeating myself, of the big five; Hasbro and Mattel (1 & 2) are in merger talks, Lego (4) and Hornby Hobbies (5 - Corgi, Scalextric and Airfix) are in trouble and Tomy-Takara (3) are increasingly branding Tomy only (to improve their visible footprint/customer recognition), all five (who between them hold several hundred defunct 'household name' brands) hung on to the coattails of the TRU-model (because they had to) and have suffered as a result.

And there's a wider problem, as well as Maplin, we have B&Q looking ill, Homebase on the way out (both DIY giants), Carpet-Right struggling, Restaurant chains Prezzo and Byron, House of Frazer (department stores), New Look (Fashion) and Jamie Oliver's mini-empire are all in trouble.

The problems are many and varied - B'wreaksit hasn't helped with a falling pound fueling inflation leading to lower consumer spending, which was already down following a global crash, ten-year austerity and negative wage-growth which had nothing to do with Labour and everything to do with global corporate greed and lack of regulation!

To which you can add higher ground-rents and business-rates (greed - bad), competition from Amazon, feeBay and Alibaba et al (all fair under capitalism!), and - recently - the creeping up of union wage demands and minimum-wage requirements (reward - good) have created a minestrone of problems for senior managers.

And it's funny [ironic] that it's now hitting the big malls and out-of-town complexes, as the high street's been under attack for years - from them, and while for a while the 'empty teeth' in the high street were filled quickly with discounters, pop-up's, Chinese-run nail bars, hair dressers and Turkish or Kurdish barbers, the empty units are beginning to stay empty now, even in affluent, middle-class, dormitory-towns like Fleet or large malls like Basingrad's!

Have I said how luscious this figure is?

I bought this morning's posted-figure as a goodbye, for the hell of it, and when I took my 75p 'bargain' to the till it first racked-up as 76p (a trades description (consumer credit) violation!), then got reduced to 61p with an applied  'voucher' I never saw or handled! Chaotic!

Win a hundred-quid and collect it . . . never!

And despite the fact that the store had either four days or 7 to go, and was/will be one of the last to go (being also one of the first to open in the UK), it's still offering all the club-cards, gift-cards, offers and prize-draws, oxymoronic when you consider that six weeks ago the administrator was urging people to use-up such things. I mean - I'm sure nothing would happen if you followed any of this up, but why is it still there at all?

It was amusing, there was very little still in-store, a single large bay (where the bikes used to be) piled-up with mostly Disney-licensed, pinky-purple stuff and last year's movie-related bits, while blokes in their work clothes (on lunch) wandered round talking to their wives on their mobile 'phone; "I don't know, shall I get one?" one chap was saying, and I thought - if you've got a kid, get everything you can carry, there's the next three Christmases and Birthdays here for less than one at normal prices!

See'ya Geoffrey; wouldn't wan'na be'ya!

Stop Press - the last press release stated that all remaining stores will cease trading on Tuesday 24th April - That's All Tomorrow Folks!

Sad - but I ain't crying.

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