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bravey
14-01-2010, 15:45
Is there any clue as to when GW will kick out their current management? And if they do get new management, what changes do you think there will be?

yabbadabba
14-01-2010, 15:52
Is there any clue as to when GW will kick out their current management? Why would they, they have just had the best half yearly report in years.

Reinholt
14-01-2010, 16:16
To answer your questions in order:

1 - Who knows? GW is currently not underperforming to the extent that management is going to be removed, though any aggressive holder of their stock has not been pleased with the past few years (to say the least).

However, GW is a small fry, also; almost nobody in finance cares about them. There's just not enough money there.

Thus, the pressure to change management is pretty limited until they do really dumb things.

2 - This is totally unknown, as first, you'd have to tell me who the new management is and how they landed there. Did they come from a firm that bought out GW? Was this a private equity group that LBO'ed them in some form and they went private? Was this a routine transition of management?

Your guess is, in this case, quite possibly as good as mine.

PsyberWolf
14-01-2010, 23:10
I see no sign of management change at this point. If revenue starts to drop off significantly then it could be a possibility. There are very few stockholders anymore - they are primarily owned by 5 institutions.

WinglessVT2
14-01-2010, 23:55
Kirby is like a techpriest magos.
He's linked to the company's headquarters, and can only be physically removed at great cost in lives and knowledge.

Duke Georgal
15-01-2010, 00:22
There is absolutely no reason for them to change management.

Why would you think this?

Bookwrak
15-01-2010, 01:25
Because the intrawebs tell him that GW is DOOMED!

PsyberWolf
15-01-2010, 01:34
Could it be that they have had no Sales growth in 4 years?

ICLRK625
15-01-2010, 02:00
Could it be that they have had no Sales growth in 4 years?

But more significantly they haven't had any radical loss, and have demonstrated that they are at least capable of remaining static. With many high risk/reward areas of investment, this may be considered a bad thing, but GW stockholders aren't expecting miracles I'm sure, they know they're not investing in a high yielding, fast growing field.

reds8n
15-01-2010, 09:13
Related to this..


Games Workshop Group PLC

("Games Workshop" or the "Group")




MANAGEMENT CHANGES - NORTH AMERICA







Games Workshop North America




Games Workshop's business in North America, which includes 86 Hobby centres in the USA and Canada, a large trade business and the Memphis manufacturing and distribution facility, is the Group's largest operation after the UK and Continental Europe




The Board of Games Workshop believes that the future potential of the Games Workshop Hobby in North America is considerable. To help exploit this, once the formalities are complete, Tom Kirby, the Group's Executive Chairman, will relocate to the Group's North American headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland for a period of 18-24 months. This will bring a renewed and increased focus on this business.




Tom will be back in the UK for approximately one week each month to deal with Group matters and to stay close to the Chief Executive and CFO. He will remain Executive Chairman of Games Workshop Group PLC.

yabbadabba
15-01-2010, 10:02
Tom's off to America again? Could be fun.

Sai-Lauren
15-01-2010, 10:15
The Board of Games Workshop believes that the future potential of the Games Workshop Hobby in North America is considerable. To help exploit this, once the formalities are complete, Tom Kirby, the Group's Executive Chairman, will relocate to the Group's North American headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland for a period of 18-24 months. This will bring a renewed and increased focus on this business.

Tom will be back in the UK for approximately one week each month to deal with Group matters and to stay close to the Chief Executive and CFO. He will remain Executive Chairman of Games Workshop Group PLC.

And also be in possession of bucket loads of air-miles and/or a healthy dislike of airports and flying by the time his tenure there ends. :)

This is pretty common in business, send an exec out to a territory that's deemed to be underperforming to get the ground level view, work out what needs to be tweaked, modified, changed or ripped up and started again, and which backsides need to be kicked.

It's unusual for someone that high up to go though - presumably there's some regional exec level backside kicking about to happen.

Art Is Resistance
15-01-2010, 11:11
And the point of this thread is?

The fact that TK is going out to the US should be seen as a good thing - whereas recently, our colonial cousins have felt out in the cold, TK going there should see changes, and hopefully, improvements.

AS to not making any significant sales growth - the world has been in recession - we should trumpet the fact that GW have managed to weather the storm and haven't gone under!

Mannimarco
15-01-2010, 12:38
interesting to see TK going out to america, when the head hincho himself comes down to ground level then you know somthings up

blongbling
15-01-2010, 12:51
Tom loves the US and he has run the US business before as well

Griefbringer
15-01-2010, 13:57
And if they do get new management, what changes do you think there will be?

Price hikes? :cool:

PsyberWolf
15-01-2010, 14:14
And the point of this thread is?

The fact that TK is going out to the US should be seen as a good thing - whereas recently, our colonial cousins have felt out in the cold, TK going there should see changes, and hopefully, improvements.

AS to not making any significant sales growth - the world has been in recession - we should trumpet the fact that GW have managed to weather the storm and haven't gone under!

Recession for the last 4-6 years?

My beef isn't with their short-term strategy - they have done relatively well through a recession - but that they are doing well at the expense of long-term growth.

Reinholt
15-01-2010, 16:09
I consider Kirby going to America to be bad news, not good news, based on past results.

GW has a significant problem with NA. They keep trying to deploy some variety of the model that works so well for them in the UK without realizing that there are demographic / transportation issues that prevent such a model from being workable (especially in the US, but to a lesser extent Canada).

Unless he actually tries to figure out a better distributed model and how to mend fences with the trade accounts in the US (who, when I ask them, consistently rank GW as the worst and most annoying of their major suppliers to deal with), the NA situation will not improve.

This simply cannot be a case of same old, same old.

I've looked at a number of retail and gaming companies in the past, and I simply don't see GW making the right moves for NA right now.

yabbadabba
15-01-2010, 16:14
I consider Kirby going to America to be bad news, not good news, based on past results.
GW has a significant problem with NA. They keep trying to deploy some variety of the model that works so well for them in the UK without realizing that there are demographic / transportation issues that prevent such a model from being workable (especially in the US, but to a lesser extent Canada).
Unless he actually tries to figure out a better distributed model and how to mend fences with the trade accounts in the US (who, when I ask them, consistently rank GW as the worst and most annoying of their major suppliers to deal with), the NA situation will not improve.
This simply cannot be a case of same old, same old.
I've looked at a number of retail and gaming companies in the past, and I simply don't see GW making the right moves for NA right now. Hope springs eternal Reinholt that this time TK will leave the European/UK models behind and get on with making a USGW a USGW. If they do make it work, it could secure the business for a very, very long time.

Reinholt
15-01-2010, 17:10
Hope springs eternal Reinholt that this time TK will leave the European/UK models behind and get on with making a USGW a USGW. If they do make it work, it could secure the business for a very, very long time.

Hope is not a strategy, as people in my industry say.

I do hope things work out for GW. I like their design, I like their models, and I like the thrust (if not execution, always) of their games. I have nothing against them as a company, or on a personal level.

However, I do believe they are a relatively poorly run business (which, to be fair, is a pretty big club). Thus, while I hope for the best, I will be planning for and expecting the worst. GW needs to make some fundamental changes that they do not appear to have the wherewithal or insight to make, as of yet, so while one can hope, I wouldn't bet on it.

decker_cky
15-01-2010, 18:30
Hope springs eternal Reinholt that this time TK will leave the European/UK models behind and get on with making a USGW a USGW. If they do make it work, it could secure the business for a very, very long time.

I sincerely hope not. In my experience, since dropping GW Canada for GWNA, my experience in dealing with GW has been MUCH worse. Everything seems to be delayed because of it, and local focused content in GW is now nil.

eriochrome
15-01-2010, 19:40
I guess the question in the states is what is GW trying to be?

A Manufacturer/Distributor or a Retailer. Given that they have trade accounts who undercut their direct sale either online/mail order or brick and mortor on price, their retail operation is certain at a possible volume disadvantage.

How do you judge retail success? Are the stores trying to make money selling products or are they really advertizing venues(indoctornation centers) so that the manufacturer sells more product through other channels also. Given the preference for constant upselling it seems that these places are graded highly by sales numbers. Recent movement from high exposure to less exposure store fronts for overhead cutting also adds to this as a pure retail model (at least for that coporate segment).

So you are trying to be a sucessful retailer who charges the highest prices anywhere for your products, in generally overstuffed stores, with pushy/annoying sales people. High prices should equal high service and that is not what I think about with GW especially at a 1 employee on shift at a time model they are using.

The only thing going fo you is really that you have excellent stock levels for people needing immediate gratification. Ofcourse high stock levels mean high operating costs(taxes, interest, and rent).

Corrode
15-01-2010, 21:15
The stores are recruitment centres, and in the UK they're highly effective at that. That doesn't stop GW wanting stores to break even, or even make a profit - they're moving from malls to downtown so they can have more space for a lower price, which helps both with recruitment (bigger stores avoid the squashed-in-with-smelly-nerds effect better) and profitability (they can carry more stock and display more ranges). The staff might be pushy/annoying in some places, but in many they're genuinely nice and helpful - much of it comes down to individual managers. It's part of the MO to try and get a conversation started with everyone who comes in, and for some of the less-socially-skilled staffers it can often be the case that that becomes a bit pushy - however, they're just doing their jobs, and they're often stuck between a rock and a hard place (manager who wants them to do what they've been told, customer who wants to be left alone).

North America does need a different model of course - over here they've pretty much achieved saturation, maintaining a presence in every major city and most minor ones. Anywhere you travel in the UK you're likely to find a store and a community. In the US and Canada, with vast swathes of sparsely-inhabited or even entirely uninhabited land, it's much harder to do that and remain credible - you might open a store in a relatively big city in the mid-west and find that the same customer base you'd find in Birmingham is spread out over the entirety of Iowa.

eriochrome
15-01-2010, 21:28
But if you bury the store in some out of the way stripmall, you get very little spontanous foot traffic thus cutting your new exposure base.

Of the 4 GW stores that used to be in my area. 1 is in a massive discount mall(still open). 1 is in a large big box strip mall but in a very out of the way place with very foot traffic(still open no independents near by). 1 was in an outlot of a big box stripmall, ok location but no foot traffic might get drive by visability but I could not find it when I was looking for it the first time maybe not the best.(closed) 1 was in a grocery store stripmall in what I think is at the edge of the town(closed but nearst to me, price under sold by 3+ indepedents in 20-30 minute zone).

Arjuna
15-01-2010, 23:19
GW has never really understood how to sell their product in NA.

Because I started collecting GW figs in the 80's and they were hard to find in the Midwest and I travel a lot, I spoke to the owners of many game stores. A consistent reply to my request for GW products was "No way man, GW is a giant pain and I hate doing business with them". In the US a lot of game stores are stocked from distributors that carry many different brands and as I looked into this more deeply (early 90s) I found out that GW was just not interested or not capable of supplying these independent stores or the game distributors.

My FLGS where I spend a not inconsiderable amount of cash on GW is a typical North American game store. It carries a lot of different products. Even though the store moves a huge amount of product the owner really does not like GW because they are so secretive and have no meaningful outreach to store owners.

The support of tournaments in the USA by GW went almost to zero several years ago and the tournament scene really helps sell GW products locally when it is done correctly.

The potential market for GW in the USA is huge compared to its currently realized market. However, opening a store that sells just GW products is really doomed to under performance or just failure in any but the most densest population centers. The policies of GW stores in the UK limiting drop in players to just playing GW games and using GW figures is just not workable in the USA because gamers here are accustomed to playing whatever game they want if it is an "open" night or there are no events scheduled.

TheDarkDuke
16-01-2010, 01:24
I sincerely hope not. In my experience, since dropping GW Canada for GWNA, my experience in dealing with GW has been MUCH worse. Everything seems to be delayed because of it, and local focused content in GW is now nil.

Couldn't agree more with you on that. I actually use to know what happened in canadian GW stores, since the merger i haven't even heard or read one snippet of info. The local gaming store in my area doens't even update their stock anymore since the merger either.

yabbadabba
16-01-2010, 07:56
@decker_cky and The Dark Duke - well done on the negativity. Surely now is the right time to get some feedback together to send to TK when he hits the shores and maybe raise the awareness a bit?

blongbling
16-01-2010, 11:16
to be honest GW has a one size fits all approach to how its business model works and I really dont see that changing with TK going over.

They did make massive inroads with the US trade business when Steve Morgan was there running trade and then when Chris Woodward took over but it hs to be a unified approach with the retail chain.

In the UK, GW effectively wiped out all the indie gaming stores but that isnt teh case in the US so they need to look at a compromise effort but will they?

Corrode
16-01-2010, 13:07
But if you bury the store in some out of the way stripmall, you get very little spontanous foot traffic thus cutting your new exposure base.

Of the 4 GW stores that used to be in my area. 1 is in a massive discount mall(still open). 1 is in a large big box strip mall but in a very out of the way place with very foot traffic(still open no independents near by). 1 was in an outlot of a big box stripmall, ok location but no foot traffic might get drive by visability but I could not find it when I was looking for it the first time maybe not the best.(closed) 1 was in a grocery store stripmall in what I think is at the edge of the town(closed but nearst to me, price under sold by 3+ indepedents in 20-30 minute zone).

I think that this is one of those conflicts between US and UK that presents one of the problems for them. Over here the out-of-the-way shopping centres tend to have immense amounts of people going to them - you still get foot traffic even with the small stores there, because people are walking past it during their normal shop. The alternative is the High Street, where again they get loads of foot traffic - the GW in Salisbury is opposite McDonald's for example, which sees a lot of people. Having a shopping centre in the middle of nowhere which only a few people go to isn't really a phenomenon we see over here.

Condottiere
16-01-2010, 13:11
Each continent, even each country, has a unique social structure and you need to adapt your business model to tap it successfully.

Unless GW believe that North America is merely an extension of the Anglo-Saxon home market.

yabbadabba
16-01-2010, 13:27
Even Tesco has found that the US needs a particular approach. Their recent move into the US (Fresh 'n' Easy), while initially achieving a success criteria to continue, didn't reach its targets and the strategy had to be reworked to take into account the recession. Tesco has aimed for a middle class approach but hadn't got locations, prices or deals right to attract enough of the middle class, or entice in the local working classes. The US market despite being potentially more rewarding for Tesco hasn't achieved as good as their Far East enterprise. Rumour has it Sir Terry Leahy dropped about £11m of bonus for that (don't panic, he still trousered £38m that year).
GW can have a great success in the US but they need to have a better offer than their competitiors (their "name" isnt enough there) and a non-euro centric approach to their business. While this might create strains in the internal politics of the company, success in anyone of the truly big markets out there, especially the US, can give GW the opportunity to achieve far, far more than any other company of their type.

ICLRK625
16-01-2010, 13:29
@decker_cky and The Dark Duke - well done on the negativity. Surely now is the right time to get some feedback together to send to TK when he hits the shores and maybe raise the awareness a bit?

It would take a lot of people, I imagine, sending letters for it to reach Tom Kirby's ears, and most of GW's market probably isn't interested (or aware of) his plans to visit America.

boogle
16-01-2010, 14:36
There is some management restruction going on within GW UK

blongbling
16-01-2010, 15:33
There is some management restruction going on within GW UK

yeah, a new head of retail and a few structure changes with in retail....to be honest they change the structure of the UK and NE business about every three months and something always happens in january

yabbadabba
16-01-2010, 16:34
yeah, a new head of retail and a few structure changes with in retail....to be honest they change the structure of the UK and NE business about every three months and something always happens in january :D Too true. Its almost like a spring clean after Christmas at times!

Reinholt
16-01-2010, 19:50
A few more thoughts:

1 - I don't really think the recession is relevant to GW NA's business model; you have to have a model that works in both good times and bad, and likewise, it isn't as if they have only started having problems in the US when the recession happened. GW, in reality, has been underperforming in NA for over a decade compared to what they should have been able to achieve if their success was even half of what they had in the UK.

2 - GW will not be able to use a store saturation model in NA. Let me put it this way: even Wal-Mart could probably find a few more places to put stores in the US, as could McDonald's. GW will never have their scale. GW needs to sort out mail order and independent retailer support in the NA market. If they do not, GW is doomed to extreme mediocrity in the US.

Obviously, GW retail could be part of this strategy (especially if they cluster in areas that are large population centers with the right demographics - Boston, New York, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio / Austin, Miami, and so on), but it can only be a part. Retail alone is not the answer, and the have to figure out the pricing differential issue with retail and direct sales in the US very soon. This becomes a more glaring issue by the day for them, as retail doesn't have the reach in the US that it does in the UK, so GW is currently eroding their own perception on a daily basis in the US with their inconsistent policy (and yes, their customers are more than smart enough to see this).

3 - The reason I lack faith in GW figuring this out is that they simply do not have a strong history of successful innovation in new markets. They try to do the same thing over and over, changing whomever is in charge when it does not work. They keep re-building the same broken machine.

If Kirby is serious about changing this, I'll be impressed, but I think there are people in the US he will need to reach out to who know US retail and/or finance, and I haven't seen this so far.

Mikhaila
16-01-2010, 20:15
Unless he actually tries to figure out a better distributed model and how to mend fences with the trade accounts in the US (who, when I ask them, consistently rank GW as the worst and most annoying of their major suppliers to deal with), the NA situation will not improve.

.

Hmm, you might be out of touch with the US retail community then. For the last 5 years, GW has increasingly made the correct moves, won back accounts, and given very good customer service to direct accounts. Steve Morgan especially was very good for the US business, and a lot of the systems and attitudes he put in place are still in force, even after he left GW and went over to Mantic/Warlord games.

I base this off of the service my stores receive, and from comments and discussions made on forums only open to games retailers.

Currently, there are two manufacturers in the US that are offering major support to US retailers: GW and WOTC. By major support I mean more than a poster, or demo game. WOTC does major advertising and has a huge organized play program. GW offers my stores free codices and new games, 1800.00 a year in event support, free shipping, access to all its mailorder products, as much racking as needed to outfit my shops (which runs in the thousands of dollars). They also have the very best return policy for damaged products. You walk into my store missing a piece from a kit, I can rip open a box, fix your problem, and know 100% that GW will send me another kit on my next order. No fuss, total trust on their part, and they let me keep the damaged kit for bitz.

GW will also work with retailers on larger projects. Their support can be quite substantial for retailers who support them, and are willing to do some work themselves beyond the normal selling of product. The support for 70 independent GTs across the US is a good example of this.

Most retailers in the US are currently feeling pretty good about GW. Those of us that have been around a couple of decades do remember the past, and do watch them carefully, but for the last 5 years, most retailers have enjoyed a pretty good relationship with GW.

Mileage will vary with which retailers you talk to. Just like gamers, some of us gripe no matter what reality is, or are still mad about something that happened a decade ago. Most others judge the company on how they are currently being treated.

Their distribution model is decent. A store can get GW product direct from them, or can go through a number of other distributors.

Reinholt
16-01-2010, 21:20
I know quite a few people in several different areas of the country (from west, to midwest, to northeast), and most have either neutral or negative things to say about GW. Thus, I would suspect that the experience people have does vary quite a bit in this regard.

Also, I don't really trust the most annoyed people to be posting or speaking through GW channels. They are usually the ones who have already cut GW out of the loop entirely and moved to a more comic or video-game based model that marginalizes the entire tabletop gaming market (something I am not exactly for, but have seen happen).

Likewise, GW's distribution model is not fine. It's terribly flawed. Most of the flaw comes from trying to serve two different masters (being a production company is a very different business than being a retail chain), and the interplay between GW's own retail sales (through direct at stores or direct from internet) vs. selling to independents is where the friction is.

Their actual distribution to independents is decent, but it causes problems for retail, or vice versa. Thus, I stand by my comments that, even though some parts of the model may work fine, they are inconsistent with other parts and are causing long term major issues for the company.

yabbadabba
16-01-2010, 21:58
Reinholt I dont think that GW is psychizophrenic because it is both a retail and supplier business. In Europe it generally works fine. But I do agree that GW need to think very carefully about its structure in the USA.
If I remember my history right, the whole concept of gaming tables and introductory gaming was imported from the US to the UK and most Indies in this country were too slow on picking up on it. If the US indy scene is much more embedded into the community then the company can do a lot less work trying to grow the hobby and in turn grow the business.

I have a thought which you maybe able to assess. GW's prices are a bit of an issue, but the way I see it GW needs to entice the Indy to sell their product rather than the customer to buy. I have a feeling that if GW can keep the stores onside, then customers will buy GW stock even though the price will be slightly higher than most. Its just a hunch.

As to a retail business, I think the US stores have to be substantially different from their UK counterparts with a much more deeper product and service offer. In the UK they used have a term "Centres of Excellance". Add this to the concept of the battle bunker, make these places destination stores at the centre of a network of Indy stores. What is crucial for me on this front is a large degree of automony in terms of promotions - both events and sales. This goes against the norm in the UK but in the US my understanding is that getting a deal is a part of the whole shopping experience.

The final piece of the puzzle is community engagement - even if it is in essence illusionary. If there is a place in the English speaking world where GW can learn how to engage with its community effectively then I believe it is the US. I think GW as a corporation will learn far more about community exposure, support and involvement; and long term this is an area of growth for long, slow but consistent growth for GW.

Reinholt
17-01-2010, 01:33
Yabba,

That is an interesting thought. My view is ultimately this:

1 - Pricing differential in the US is a big problem, long term.

If GW products can be had from independent retailers, consistently, for less than you can purchase them from at GW, this is a PR problem for GW. Unlike the UK, where people can either walk to GW or order online for a discount, in the US, most people can't walk to GW. Thus, when the case is "buy expensive or buy cheap with the same amount of convenience", people buy cheap and GW is seen as being an adversarial, nasty company for selling their product more expensively than at indies.

Somehow, if GW is not going to use the retail saturation bomb strategy in the US (which I have repeatedly argued will not work due to geographic and demographic concerns), they have to fix this. Unpleasant as most indies are going to find this, GW needs to start playing hardball with them to prevent undercutting GW's own prices (either through legal contracts, where possible, or simply through shafting them on delivery times, quality of service, and pricing if you need to do it in "soft" fashion).

2 - I also agree about the destination store phenomenon.

Gaming is often about community as well as product. When stores are seen as sterile, adversarial, or inhospitable, business will suffer. If GW can successfully provide stores with a platform to have consistent space for gaming, allow stores to run independent leagues and promotions (maybe even encourage them), and give more latitude to their staff members in the US to present a professional and fun store experience, then GW will start to have more worthwhile stores in terms of long-term value in the US. Given that you must have fewer stores in the US, the stores you do have (or at least one flagship store per city) need to be seriously awesome.

I also suspect mall locations are less important, other than maybe small recruitment stores, and that "near mall" locations where GW can attract and keep a crowd with lower rent is more important. Mall stores should be smaller and new recruit focused, and at malls where the demographics are favorable for GW.

There are also a bunch of little pet peeves I have with GW retail's store appearance and professional decorum, like the uniforms. Seriously. If they aren't in the military or law enforcement, wearing a uniform is usually a good hint that someone is a peon. We don't walk into McDonalds and get intimidated by the people in the official looking uniforms (my apologies to anyone who works at McD's, but it's true). Lose the god damned ratty, dorky polo shirts. Wear dress shirts (or at least nice polos or long sleeved shirts), nice slacks, nice shoes, and have your employees shave. Don't allow people to look like filth of the earth. You're RUNNING A <expletive deleted> BUSINESS, NOT HANGING OUT IN YOUR BASEMENT.

Ahem.

I throw that in not because it is the most pressing concern, but rather, because it is indicative of the mindset. Stores should be presentable, visually stunning in what they have for the hobby, and staffed with people who know their stuff.

For an example of everything to do wrong, look at the old GW store in the Franklin Mills mall in Philadelphia. In short:

- The area is crime ridden and depressed.

- GW's target demographic is not present.

- It is an outlet mall with poor foot traffic (and what traffic there is often consists of middle aged women shopping for clothing).

- The store has moved around repeatedly for rent reasons without realizing the net value is actually retaining a community.

- The employees were consistently not well dressed or well presented, and gave off the impression of being newbie peons who don't get the hobby or professional behavior.

- The selection is no better, and often worse, than some of the other indies in the area or places where one could order online (cheaper).

That sort of thing absolutely must stop in the US, where your stores have to cover more ground and serve as banner bearers for the hobby. A misplaced and mismanaged store in the US is probably equivalent to 25 misplaced and mismanaged stores in the UK.

3 - You are dead on target that customer service and interaction must improve dramatically in the US.

One of the differences I have observed, having spent considerable time in Europe and lived in the US most of my life, is that people will accept lower levels of customer service and interaction in Europe. I don't know why, but Americans are much quicker, on average, to tell companies to **** off and take their goods elsewhere if they don't please the customer.

I think GW has yet to understand what it really takes to interface with the US community, but conversely, has yet to understand what a gold mine the US could be for them if they do it well. An innovative hobby outreach and events, tournament circuit, set of effective stores, and consistent interaction with hobbyists (and I really do mean from the design team down) could probably boost GW's sales in the US over a 10 year period to 200-300% of what they are currently (just look at combined video game, board game, and card games sales in the US to get an impression of how truly massive the "geek" contingent in the US is), and maybe more. There is a lot of room for GW to grow, if they do this well.

So you are dead on that GW could learn a lot about operating in an environment where they cannot simply retail bomb to succeed, and that the payoff from operating in such a fashion could be dramatic.

There's my thoughts. Hopefully helpful and gives some idea of how I conceptualize the whole thing for GW.

Duke Georgal
17-01-2010, 05:39
If GW wants to make it big in the US, they need to be more like IKEA.

Bigger, better, flashier, and less expensive than the competition.

If they want to open GW stores, fine, but those stores better carry more (a lot more) than just GW product. They better have product at a discount. Maybe call them GW hobby outlets or something.

They better drop the idea of marketing to kids. Teenagers in the US are not looking for quality long term nerdy hobbies. They want fast cars and freedom. They should be in it for long term adult hobbiest money. That is the big dollars.

40+ year old americans, even in this economy, have tons of disposable income. Some spend $100,000.00 restoring an old car. SOme spend $35,000.00 twice a year on luxury vacations to fishing lodges. Some, like me, want several beautiful armies with long term enjoyment attached. The fields are green, just come in and reap!

However, presenting yourself as a high priced luxurious pile of plastic crap is not going to get you far in America. Filling your store with pimple faced geeks screaming WAAAGH all the time is also a bad idea.

Adults wanting to relive their childhood with money to spend. Come on GW... the money is here, just reach out and grab it. Leaving low hanging fruit like this on the tree is a big mistake.

lanrak
17-01-2010, 07:53
HI all.
I agree that GW plc would be far better off if its buisness plan was directed at long term development and growth of its custermer base.

However , the corperate managment at GW plc belive in ambling down the route of least effort for them.

It was easier to use its existing chain of GW shops to create an insular marketing platform.(Exclude non GW branded products.)
And then simply jack up the prices on a regular basis , while using the rules/army lists to directly support marketing minatures, at the expence of game play.

As the alternative of developing and supporting the wider range of games sytems taylored to the needs of individual groups to ensure maximum coverage of gamers ,and the long term development of thier games and customer base , was deemed to be , '...too heavy of an investment for limited short term gain ...'

During the period of greatest growth,(1987 to 1994) GW had a wide range of games...

Hero Quest and Space Crusade.(plus expansions.)Sold in toy stockists .
Aimed at the younger gamer.(8+)

Then they had 'Advanced' versions of the above for players to move onto if they wanted.

AND offered a wide range of boxed games to act as a 'gateway' into thier core games back ground for older players with more diverse interests.(Space Hulk, Blood Bowl, Warhammer Quest, Man O War,Space Fleet etc.)

Then the core back grounds had skirmish games to large scale conflicts.

So the gamers could play a different GW games every year for 10 years if they wanted to!This means the GW gameing experaince remained engaging challenging and fun for much longer....

In comparison GWs current core game range of 3 types of fantasy ,(tolken , home brew and homebrew in spaaace!), seem rather limited.

Unfortunately GW plc corperate appears to have been rigorously following the path of least resistance to get short term cash injections, that the amount of investment and potential revenue loss incurred, to change the current out dated buisness plan is too prohibitive to them.

GW plc is so poorly managed, all the other companies out there that produce far more elegant and efficient rule sets, and offer better value for money products , can shine like diamonds compared to GW products ....
(Perhaps this is Mr kirby goal?Make GW plc so unprofitable it is prime for a managment buy out?)

IJW
17-01-2010, 12:59
For reference, both Heroquest and Space Crusade were Milton Bradley games, designed but not sold by GW.

magath
17-01-2010, 14:07
low level area management is supposed to be getting a bit of a shift round, apparently their reducing the shops per area manager to about 10, so they can actually do store visits and stuff, according to a staffer I know quite well.

Not much effect on the company as a whole in terms of exapansion, but worth keeping an eye on if you fancy a job.

yabbadabba
17-01-2010, 14:07
@ Lanrak - so do you advise GW to carry on promoting and producing products that do not sell enough to cover their costs or the required profit margin by the company?

Mikhaila
17-01-2010, 14:47
You bring up the Franklin Mills store as an example, and I agree with most of your points. That mall was billed as the next great thing in Philadelphia, and was only really popular for a couple of years and immediately slid downwards. GW went into it during a stage where "malls are where we want to be" was a criteria, and they had deals with the Mills chain of Malls. It's actually getting moved at this point to Cottman and Bustleton avenues. This does put it right in the heart of Northeast Philly, but I do wonder about the demographics.

Part of the ongoing plans with metro areas in the US is to have 2-4 GW stores in each large metro area, with several independendents, and if more partnership level stores are there, less GW are needed. A large bunker to use for large events is also needed.

The interesting thing is, that bunker and a lot of the stores filling that plan may turn out to be independent accounts.

Lets continue with looking at Philadelphia. Excellant choice.

You currently have 1 GW store in Philly, 1 across the river in Jersey, and 1 an hour south in the middle of Deleware. You also have a dozen independent stores carrying product around the city, and a few 'partnership' level stores. And a bunker.

The two largest stores that carry the most GW product with the most tables aren't the GW stores. They're mine. So is the bunker. We just opened it up with a lot of support from GW, and with a lot of work from the local club, NE BigunZ. It holds 25 gaming tables with additional space we can rent in the mall courtyard for our GT's. The GW stores in the area are putting up flyers for our events, and working with us.

If this works, it could become a template in other areas. You're absolutely correct that GW can't blanket the US with stores. Just too big. I believe it's more profitable for them to support independent stores, and tournaments, than to try and run them themselves. I'm hoping everything continues to build in the Philly metro, and they try this experiment in conjunction with other retailers.

Your correct about the community aspect of gaming. It's very important to the health of a game store. It's one of the big reasons we worked to get the extra space from the mall and open up a bunker. We wanted a space to run larger events, and where clubs can come run their own events, hold gaming or hobby days, etc. Below is the schedule I copied off of another post. Big events pay the rent on the space, and clubs are filling in the left over weekends with small events that don't need to make a profit or bring in money. We may end up with stuff running every weekend.



A summary of events that will be going on in the Showcase Comics gaming Bunker.
Still a few holes left, but we’re working on it. In particular we will be slotting in 3 Flames of War Tournaments, first one around late April/ early May.

Jan. 23rd Warmachine MarkII Resurgence Event. See the Privateer website for complete
rules for the event. 4 Games. 10.00 entry fee. No painting requirement.

Feb. 6 War of the Ring Forging of Fates Round 1
Feb 20th Another of Tim Nash’s fun and imaginative tourneys. Details coming on the
Showcase forums.
Feb. 27th and 28th St. Valentines Day Massacre 40k GT and Young Gunz tournament
60.00 entry fee for the main event

March 6th War of the Ring Forging of Fates Round 2 (semi-finals)
March 20th Big Gunz 40k Tournament
March 26th-28th ADEPTICON!

April 4th Easter-Closed
April 10th East Coast War of the Ring Forging of Fates, East Coast Finals
April 24th and 25th Philly Phrakus Blood Bowl Tournament (tentative)

May 15th 40k 'Ardboyz Round 1
May 22nd Maryland-Jerseyvania WFB Challenge Cup

June 12th 40k 'Ardboyz Round 2
June 26th Big GunZ WFB Doubles Tournament

July 17th 40k 'Ardboyz East Coast Finals
July 24th and 25th THE BIG SHOW! WFB 2999 GT

August 21st GAMES DAY 2010!
August 28th 'Ardboyz WFB Round 1

Sept. 18th BigGunZ 40k Doubles Tournament
Sept. 25th WFB 'Ardboyz semi finals

Oct. 9th Midatlantic Team Tournament (Warmachine and Hordes).
3 man teams.
Oct. 16th 17th North Eastern Warhammer Club Challenge – The NEWCC
4 man teams, 40k and/or WFB.
Oct. 23rd East Coast 'Ardboyz WFB Finals

Nov. 20th adn 21st The Turkey Shoot WFB GT and Young Gunz tournament.

Dec. 11th Maryland-Jersyvania 40k Cup Challenge

Reinholt
17-01-2010, 18:06
It's actually getting moved at this point to Cottman and Bustleton avenues. This does put it right in the heart of Northeast Philly, but I do wonder about the demographics.

At least now someone doesn't have to drive as far to have people attempt to mug and/or shoot them.

Ahem.

The interesting part about the rest is that it's not really unique to GW; if you look across a combination of production companies for hobby-like goods and retail industries, you can easily find the business plans that work and the business plans that don't, and then where they worked.

This is why I've been so negative on the GW strategy in the US. I've seen this game played before, with other kinds of companies, and seen them fail as a result of it. It relates to why so many retail chains from densely packed areas (Japan, Europe) have a very hard time adjusting to operating in the US, and why US chains often have issues operating in those places.

To that end, if GW really wants to modify their business model and get the small details right with their chain, I think there is a ton of profit to be made. But they are going to have to step significantly outside their usual operating plan to do it.

Edit: Also, if I was looking at Philly, I'd advise GW retail that it's not an area they should be focusing on right now; they probably should have just closed Franklin Mills entirely. There are some strong independents there (support them instead), and there are far more favorable cities in terms of demographics (Boston, San Diego, etc.) where GW has no presence at all, and others where they need much more. Philly is not the low hanging fruit, currently, for the retail side.

vladsimpaler
17-01-2010, 18:07
Tom Kirby can't get fired soon enough. :shifty:

blongbling
17-01-2010, 21:48
Edit: Also, if I was looking at Philly, I'd advise GW retail that it's not an area they should be focusing on right now; they probably should have just closed Franklin Mills entirely. There are some strong independents there (support them instead), and there are far more favorable cities in terms of demographics (Boston, San Diego, etc.) where GW has no presence at all, and others where they need much more. Philly is not the low hanging fruit, currently, for the retail side.

That isnt GW's policy and you know it, its policy used to be to try and support its trade account but that changed years ago and as GW is now becoming a retail business it is more apparant that trade is less and less important to them

yabbadabba
17-01-2010, 23:05
That isnt GW's policy and you know it, its policy used to be to try and support its trade account but that changed years ago and as GW is now becoming a retail business it is more apparant that trade is less and less important to them Thats quite revealing especially considering the source :eyebrows:

Vaktathi
17-01-2010, 23:24
Why would they, they have just had the best half yearly report in years.

Because they still have horrific issues with distribution and partner interaction, their actual *sales* are relatively stagnant, and their actual store chain strategy, outside the UK, hasn't been exactly successful. That and their upper management using debt to fund dividend disbursements in previous years when GW was not exactly in good places (and under no obligation or expectation to provide dividends to shareholders under such situations) which happened to (in all likelyhood) double Mr. Kirby's salary?

Their ability to run the GW business outside the UK is horrific overall. They put stores in the middle of nowhere and leave huge urban areas without any presence at all. San Diego is an excellent example, with a metro pop of about 3 million, and only 3 stores that sell GW stuff, and only 1 that's got more than 2 tables and a decent stock.

yabbadabba
17-01-2010, 23:37
Because they still have horrific issues with distribution and partner interaction, their actual *sales* are relatively stagnant, and their actual store chain strategy, outside the UK, hasn't been exactly successful. That and their upper management using debt to fund dividend disbursements in previous years when GW was not exactly in good places (and under no obligation or expectation to provide dividends to shareholders under such situations) which happened to (in all likelyhood) double Mr. Kirby's salary?

Their ability to run the GW business outside the UK is horrific overall. They put stores in the middle of nowhere and leave huge urban areas without any presence at all. San Diego is an excellent example, with a metro pop of about 3 million, and only 3 stores that sell GW stuff, and only 1 that's got more than 2 tables and a decent stock. Vakathi, some of that hasn't changed since the buy out in '94 and the investors have had much better opportunities to force a change since then rather than now.

Vaktathi
17-01-2010, 23:47
True, and I don't necessarily think that the shareholders would force a change of management now, I don't see it as likely at all, but I don't think that it would be unwarranted either at this point or unproductive.

Mikhaila
18-01-2010, 00:17
That isnt GW's policy and you know it, its policy used to be to try and support its trade account but that changed years ago and as GW is now becoming a retail business it is more apparant that trade is less and less important to them

I'd argue the exact opposite. Especially since Trade makes a hell of a lot of money for GW in the US, and the retail chain struggles some years to make a profit at all. (My source for that statement is GW US.)

My support from GW for my stores and events has been huge over the years. This year more than ever.

Reinholt
18-01-2010, 03:26
True, and I don't necessarily think that the shareholders would force a change of management now, I don't see it as likely at all, but I don't think that it would be unwarranted either at this point or unproductive.

My suspicion is that most of the shareholders who were interesting in forcing major changes have already exited the stock in the major run down to 200p. They probably felt it was better to take the money and exit than to try to fight the long term battle.

On the other hand, the real danger for GW is that if they remain a microcap, and someone notices them while believing they could generate real money with operations improvements at the company in terms of retail effectiveness, product design, and the like, they are small enough that they could easily be bought out (willing or not).

In other words, unless GW delivers strong enough results that their investor base definitely wouldn't sell without a major premium, they remain a potential takeover target, especially given their size.

PsyberWolf
18-01-2010, 04:34
I think GW retail stores are a waste of time in the US. GW products can not stand on their own - they need a wide varity of other things (model trains, planes and automobiles) to help pay the bills. The customers are too diverse here. What that means is that they need to focus on building independents up.

Second thing they need to overcome are cultural expectations around pricing. Almost everything for sale here in the US is made in China - especially if it is plastic. Things not made in China tend to be much more expensive. More often than not people will buy the cheaper item. Thats just the way it is. A parent would be ok dropping a wad of cash down for a video game system but at the same time would say "no way!" to an equivalent amount of GW models. It has to do with the value people place on it.

Vermin-thing
18-01-2010, 05:38
@ Reinholt: If GW were to be bought out by some larger business body would they have to pay off Tks' golden parashoot, thus making the company almost bankrupt? How would a buyout work?


I think that GW should take a different approach to sales in Canada, than the US.

Firstly they should consider vastly improving there mail order system, and site.

Then in areas that are spread out, they should put in mail order shops, 2-3 tables, for gaming and painting, and a place where customers can order goods, and have it arrive in a few days, instead of weeks. In stead of having to trek all the way out to a store only to find that the thing you wanted is out of stock, you can order your stuff, and it will arrive in two days, intact. This way by decreasing the size of the store, and the amount of stock you can give access to most of anyone with a computer, and a near by pylon.

"build more pylons" comes to mind.

They need to put one or two hobby centers in the densely populated areas, not malls, and a bunker sized store to hold all the stock in each Provence.

blongbling
18-01-2010, 13:28
I'd argue the exact opposite. Especially since Trade makes a hell of a lot of money for GW in the US, and the retail chain struggles some years to make a profit at all. (My source for that statement is GW US.)

My support from GW for my stores and events has been huge over the years. This year more than ever.

argue what? I said that GW is turning itself into a retail business.....and they are, thats why there are more and more retail stores being opened and more and more restrictions being placed on trade accounts.

Regardless of the reality of trade making most of the companies profit and retail barely breaking even that doesn't stop them from wanting to be a retail chain, hence all the focus within GW is all about retail

Reinholt
18-01-2010, 14:25
@ Reinholt: If GW were to be bought out by some larger business body would they have to pay off Tks' golden parashoot, thus making the company almost bankrupt? How would a buyout work?

Usually when there is a buyout, the firm that is doing the buying makes sure the new firm is adequately capitalized, either through debt or equity funding. So there's a lot of different options, but in GW's case:

- Kirby's buyout is small potatoes, in finance terms; GW's comp is quite low by industry standards

- Someone wouldn't buy them unless they either thought they could make GW significantly more profitable (plausible) or GW was super cheap (because they had another five years of bad results and were getting close to bankruptcy)

- The buyer is going to be throwing around hundreds of millions to billions of dollars, in most cases, which means GW is small potatoes compared to them

- It's probably either another, larger gaming-interested firm (and maybe a multi-media firm also holding video game developers as assets), or a private equity type firm (or individual) with major operations experience

I don't think a small buyout of Kirby is going to bankrupt any of those people. People have overpaid dramatically for far more stupid acquisitions in the past, after all.

Llew
18-01-2010, 15:14
I believe that GW wants to be a retail business. I'm not sure *why* they want that -- and I'm even less sure why they want that in the U.S. I guess they like high volumes and low margins.

If they choose to go that route, they have a lot of serious problems as have been detailed. If they genuinely wanted to make a lot of profit in the U.S., they would just support the heck out of every indie they could. I'm sure their trade division is doing great things, especially for big accounts like Mikhalia apparently is. (It sounds like he runs a really class operation, and on a scale beyond the majority of indies I've come across.) The problem is they're not working hard enough to turn low volume vendors into higher-volume vendors.

Heck...my FLGS hates dealing with GW, and has gotten to where they stopped dealing with them directly and go through one of the gaming distributors: it was just easier and more reliable. Sure, when GW was starting their big push at revamping U.S. Trade Sales, they had a rep come into the store, and he talked about all the support he was going to give and the attention they would receive to get their sales up. He came in that one time, and they never heard from him again. Not even a follow up phone call.

That tells me that there is still a lot of potential for trade reps to go out and build up GW as a product worth selling. But they're not doing it now.

And as for Reinholt's idea that GW should consider getting tougher on the price issues: it's a bad idea. It's the kind of thing that sounds right at first blush, but the last thing GW needs is another excuse for indies to not carry them. With new manufacturers like Mantic coming out doing great things on prices and offering comparable quality, GW is in peril of dropping in the U.S. market already. GW needs to work hard to make it unthinkable that a store wouldn't carry their products.

Sadly, I don't think they have it in them. But there are a lot of ex-GW employees who are figuring out how to make and sell good minis affordably. If any of them ever come up with a solid, balanced game and they offer it for a free download, it could be trouble for GW.

Mikhaila
23-01-2010, 17:05
argue what? I said that GW is turning itself into a retail business.....and they are, thats why there are more and more retail stores being opened and more and more restrictions being placed on trade accounts.

Regardless of the reality of trade making most of the companies profit and retail barely breaking even that doesn't stop them from wanting to be a retail chain, hence all the focus within GW is all about retail

Sorry, I'll be more specific. I'd argue this point: that trade is less and less important to them . As always, they are struggling with their retail chain, and having the retail chain make a profit. Meanwhile they make a good deal of profit in the US from Trade Sales. So how can trade be less and less important?

I also haven't seen the 'more and more' restrictions on Trade accounts. Seriously, it's been pretty much the same this year as the last couple of years. A couple of changes in the Partnership agreement, the Black Box program, and a lot more support from promotions. Overall I'd say things are slightly better than they were from 2-3 years ago.

Whether that stays the same with Mr. Kirby now in charge of the US and Ernie Baker gone, remains to be seen. But I have a suspicion Mr. Kirby likes money. If most of the profit in the US is coming from Trade Accounts, it's hard to

blongbling
23-01-2010, 17:20
Mikhalia,

the retail chain doesn't make a profit almost anywhere for GW, the profit comes from the Trade departments globally and licensing (and built in manufacturing costs). The only real time that GW made profit from its retail chain was during LOTR when they covered the overheads in the retail chain and made massive profits. They are making trade less and less important in many ways that I saw, the restrictive trading practices and the complete focus on retail from within the business. Knowing some of the things that were discussed when I was there I can assure you 100% that GW is moving towards becoming only focussed on its retail chain and Mail Order.

A great example of this is the opening of one man stores in the UK and soon across Europe. As well as making the store capable of going into profit quicker (less overhead) they can also now go into 50 (in the UK) more locations that there is or isnt a trade presence in. This will allow them to further push trade stores out of the market in favour of their own stores.

The "more and more" restrictions refers to the EU trading practices that have been put in place and the reasons for it.

I dont think that the US will deviate from the plans they have which is massive GW retail store openings as the strategy for the US,and all GW territories, is very clearly understood at the senior manager level within the business

Mikhaila
23-01-2010, 17:45
Difference in opinion is based on regional differences then. I only have experience and knowledge based on the US branch, but it does stretch back over two decades of dealing with them, and being quite close to the Baltimore HQ. (Which sadly changes soon.)

Trade in the US vs. Trade elsewhere seems to be a vastly different animal.
Its also much tougher for GW in the US to just push Trade accounts out of the way, (Assuming the store in question is doing the work to actually compete with GW stores in their area.)

My experience has been that if an independent store in the US is doing enough GW business, GW doesn't want to put a store near them. It makes them less profit to lose the independent stores pushing their product, than it does to support the independent stores. Theres some tension between US Retail and US Trade Sales over this though.

PsyberWolf
23-01-2010, 18:42
Mikaila,

I had heard that GW is moving their US HQ to Memphis - did they make an announcement or was it from someone from inside the company?

Mikhaila
23-01-2010, 19:46
Official email sent out within the company, but I'm not sure how far down the chain it went. I got the news from an ex-GW higher up who had seen it. Ernie Baker, who's been head of the US for the last 5 years or so, has been ousted, which is why Mr. Kirby is now running the US. Ernie was very against moving the HQ to Memphis.

Supposedly they will be moved down there by July. Makes sense financially, but also may mean a huge turnover in staff who don't/can't move down to Memphis.

Condottiere
23-01-2010, 23:35
I remember in one of John Grisham's books that he mentioned that Memphis had lower overheads.

blongbling
24-01-2010, 10:44
well it will mean no extra overheads for th US business as they already have all the facilities there. The only reason that there was a place in Baltimore anyway was because the guy originally sent over to set up GW wanted to be near his mum who was there.

Mikhalia, agreed that there will be a very different approach to completing it in the US market due to the dominance of the indies, however if the US is to open its 300 odd stores that they envisage then that will have to change I would imagine

General Veers
24-01-2010, 15:14
300 GW Stores in the US?

EPIC. FAIL.

That's the safe bet based on the last attempts by GW to open a lot of stores in the US. That's not going to make GW successful in the US. I really pity the GW employees as The Red Bead experiment (http://www.redbead.com/what/) in practice at GW continues...

yabbadabba
24-01-2010, 19:23
300 GW Stores in the US?
EPIC. FAIL.
That's the safe bet based on the last attempts by GW to open a lot of stores in the US. Historically GW have not been successful establishing a retail market in the US. If they take the same approach then of course the same result will happen. On the other hand there is no reason why with the right plan, the right locations and the right approach that GW cannot open 300 stores in the US. I certainly dont think it will be easy, but it could be achievable.
It all comes down to that plan. If we here GW taking on US consultancies to help them then that could be a good sign that they are thinking in the right direction.
Not that I am sure3 it is the right direction anyway, I'd would want to see the strategy and homework first before making any decision on this. And there is fat chance of that happening :D

Duke Georgal
25-01-2010, 02:47
There is no reason why with the right plan, the right locations and the right approach that GW cannot open 300 stores in the US.

Yup, they can open them.

Then, they can close them all just as fast.

I agree with the previous poster, EPIC fail!

General Veers
25-01-2010, 02:55
Yabbadabba and anyone else interested,


On the other hand there is no reason why with the right plan, the right locations and the right approach that GW cannot open 300 stores in the US. I certainly dont think it will be easy, but it could be achievable.

If he's going to follow the "Apple" formula I guess it could work. Most of those are operating inside enclosed shopping malls or stand alone buildings though. Other than that one and fast food operations? There aren't many others out there that I know of and I don't see how he's going to pull it off in the US. Apple isn't a good comparison anyway since the customer base is a dedicated loyal returning consumer and GWs is clearly designed for churn and burn. The latter doesn't work on the high end in the US.

Also, Apple is HUGE compared to GW and they only have about 250 stores in the US. It took Apple about 6 years to open that many as well. My money is still on fail.

Mikhaila
25-01-2010, 17:34
GW has had several periods of expansion in the US, (3? 4?). So far always followed by retrenchment, closing stores, and re-evalution.

I'm sure that the guys in the UK want 300 stores. But they also want to make a profit, and so far opening in stores in the US hasn't been producing that. Build out costs in the last round were much higher than previously, being mainly in malls. The move to shopping centers, reduced staff, and smaller stores will probably work better.

It'll be interesting to see what the current plan evolves into.

Reinholt
25-01-2010, 19:48
On the topic of US retail....

GW, if they want to open a larger retail chain in the US, needs to make some long-term organizational changes to the US side of the company. The UK model, due to a number of different issues in the US, simply does not work here. Full stop.

Likewise, ignoring the strategic question of "should GW have a US retail chain" for a moment, in the past, GW's efforts to open stores in the US have been a tactical failure. A US retail chain may or may not be a good strategy overall, but having a US retail chain with crappy store support, poor staff, and sub-par locations is definitely a bad idea!

GW continues to mystify me with regard to their US store locations; it's downright egregious that the company does not have a presence in San Diego, Boston, the San Antonio - Austin corridor, Florida, or Atlanta while having locations in Philadelphia, southern Jersey, and Delaware.

Furthermore, the retail stores in the US offer very little "value added" to the consumer. There is no Forge World, very few store events (beyond the OMG BEGINNER GAME!!!111one!!! that happens every weekend, which is hardly a long-term driver of sales for their established customer base), strange hours (the NYC store, for instance, opens at noon and isn't open past 8 on weekdays, which is pretty mystifying given that most people don't get off work until 6ish), and no discounts. They stifle innovation on the store level, and thus kill opportunities to improve by using stores as a laboratory for good ideas.

In some cases, independent retailers are better than GW stores (the War Store for value, and Showcase comics in PA for superior hobby support both come to mind), and often are at least as good.

So before GW continues to open stores in the US, from an investor's perspective, I would urge them to be able to answer the following questions to an outside observer who knows their business:

- Why are you choosing the overall geographic locations you are choosing, and what is the demographic you are targeting in this area?

- Are your hours and precise store locations in sync with the local region's transportation options, work/school schedules, and character?

- What is the value that you are bringing to the consumer over simply mail ordering from your website directly?

- What are you doing in terms of events and store support to make yourself superior to local independent shops?

- What are you doing on a macro-level, in terms of national or regional events, to support the US GW gaming community? (As if you don't think this is worth doing to help develop the market, I would question why you are in the US market at all, much less with a dedicated retail chain!)

- What is your long-term vision for US retail profitability in a sustainable and stable fashion?

Likewise, GW needs to figure out the cost structure, employee pay scale that incentivizes and retains the best people in the stores, and thrust of the retail chain overall.

It has been pretty conclusively demonstrated by several companies in the past (anyone remember the WotC stores?) that a commodity-style retail chain in the US for a niche product like miniatures gaming will not work from a single-company platform; people are simply too spread out in the US for these kinds of stores to justify their existence over either mail-order (in which case you just need your website) or diversified product offerings (in which case you need trade sales to independent retailers, or for GW stores to sell non-GW products). Either GW needs to figure out a way to turn their stores into legitimate hobby epicenters for a region and derive profit from this, or they need to quit screwing around and get out of retail in the US.

Their past plans in the US are always the same sort of idea: take the old, tired retail model that has failed them before, and try to make it work.

We'll see if Kirby can come up with something different, or realize it doesn't work, pull the plug, and aggressively develop a trade-sales / web-order business model.

If not, there is enough competition slowly building (from both miniatures gaming and non-miniatures options that people are substituting into) that GW might eventually lose the US market share they currently have, and North America as a whole will no longer represent a credible growth opportunity for the company.

Lord of Worms
26-01-2010, 11:32
On the topic of US retail....

Furthermore, the retail stores in the US offer very little "value added" to the consumer.
...
In some cases, independent retailers are better than GW stores (the War Store for value, and Showcase comics in PA for superior hobby support both come to mind), and often are at least as good.
...
- What are you doing in terms of events and store support to make yourself superior to local independent shops?

...

It has been pretty conclusively demonstrated by several companies in the past (anyone remember the WotC stores?) that a commodity-style retail chain in the US for a niche product like miniatures gaming will not work from a single-company platform; people are simply too spread out in the US for these kinds of stores to justify their existence over either mail-order (in which case you just need your website) or diversified product offerings (in which case you need trade sales to independent retailers, or for GW stores to sell non-GW products). Either GW needs to figure out a way to turn their stores into legitimate hobby epicenters for a region and derive profit from this, or they need to quit screwing around and get out of retail in the US.

We'll see if Kirby can come up with something different, or realize it doesn't work, pull the plug, and aggressively develop a trade-sales / web-order business model.

(Bold Added)

This. This, this and this. Yes. For the love of God.:mad:

These problems aren`t localised to the US, but Canada as well. Perhaps moreso. Here in Toronto they put three stores in the city, plus the Bunker in Oakville ( a suburb). They closed the bunker recently during their restructuring of GW NA, and service has never been worse. One of the stores is in the Scarborough Town Centre. For those of you who aren`t familiar with the GTA, this is our equivalent of Harlem or Compton. Not quite as bad, but still terrible. No parent in their right mind would ever allow their kid to travel there on public transit. Ever. The rent might be cheap, but only people from other neighbourhoods go there, and it`s far. It`s on the extreme east of the city, and I`m on the not-so extreme west, it would take me 2 and a half hours+ by subway to get there.

The New! Imporved! trade policies they`ve been implementing ( like outright refusing to let people stock SG, for some reason) are only pissing more and more people off. Out of all the indie hobby shops I`ve walked into perhaps half of them give me this look, whenever I ask if they have any GW. As if they would be completely braindead fools for ever dealing with GW. Once in a while they have an old cardboard box full of blisters from the 80s and early 90s and that`s it. More then ever, watching the hobby develop here for 13 years+, I can say more than ever that it`s becoming `GW, and Everybody Else`, and neither of the two groups ever want to have anything to do with each other.