The Electronics Specialist.
|Founded||Westcliff on Sea, UK (1972)|
|Headquarters||Manvers, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, UK|
|Number of locations||205 stores|
|Area served||United Kingdom,
|Key people||John Cleland (CEO)
Mike Lucas (Retail Operations Director)
|Products||Electronics Gadgets Computing|
|Owner(s)||Montagu Private Equity|
Maplin Electronics is a retailer of electronic goods in the UK and Ireland.
Maplin Electronic Supplies was established in 1972 as a small mail order business by Roger and Sandra Allen and Doug Simmons. The company originally started in a bedroom at the Allens' home in Rayleigh, Essex, after the two electronics enthusiasts were disappointed by the complexity and poor availability of existing electronic component suppliers.
Prior to Maplin Electronics' arrival; many companies advertised items but most were government or industrial surplus, and although cheap, were often inconsistent in their quality and availability.
The trio placed a small advertisement in an electronics magazine after printing the company's first 28-page catalogue, which would be offered free to callers. Despite a slow start and dwindling profit in the first year; the company began to create a reputation for offering first grade electronic components that are delivered exactly as shown in the catalogue by first class post.
By 1975 the catalogue had grown to 216 pages with technical specifications and complete projects. Shortly afterwards the founders realised that an actual retail outlet would be beneficial.
The first store opened in Westcliff-on-Sea; the mail order department business moved into the spare rooms above the shop. Sales received a large boost when Maplin was invited to take prime advertising space in IPC Electronics magazines after receiving a large number of complaints against some of their existing advertisers.
A second store opened in Hammersmith by the end of the year. The mail order side of the business had outgrown the space available above the Westcliff-on-Sea store and a large ex-dairy building a few miles away in Hadleigh was purchased and was soon established as Maplin's first warehouse.
Maplin had already started designing electronic kits for hobbyists and musicians, with several major synthesiser and organ projects being published in the first magazine Electronics & Music Maker, and subsequently made available as kits. Shortly after the second store opened, the technical team and management launched Electronics - the Maplin Magazine, which was initially published every quarter, then later as more projects were designed the publication was issued monthly.
The kits were a perfect vehicle to sell Maplin's components and the articles in Electronics published full circuit diagrams, parts lists and technical articles with full instructions for building and setting up the projects. All this happened in the early 1980s, and the sudden boom in home computer ownership spawned by manufacturers such as Sinclair, Commodore International and Atari created opportunities for Maplin to create home build project kits to plug into these computers such as speech synthesisers, memory expansion cards, extension keyboards, cables, connectors and so on.
At the height of production of the home-build kits Maplin's range was vast, with in-house designed power amplifiers, radio kits, a weather station and a full weather satellite receiving and display system and many others, as well as the Heathkit and Velleman ranges of kits. The Maplin catalogue, with its distinctive futuristic space ship and planet themed cover art by Lionel Jeans was crammed with hundreds of application circuits, with each new release being eagerly awaited by the hobbyist community and selling hundreds of thousands of copies each year.
Move to South Yorkshire
In 1985 Maplin Professional Supplies (MPS) was created to serve the expanding business market with a catalogue of products selected specifically for professionals and the business market. In 1989 a new National Distribution Centre was opened at Wombwell, South Yorkshire, and four years later a Far Eastern headquarters was established in Taiwan.
In 1999 Maplin launched its own website and the following year sales from the site hit UK£1m. The Southend-on-Sea headquarters also closed in 2000 and all operations were moved to Wombwell. In 2001 the company changed hands again, this time with a management buyout backed by Graphite Capital.
Far East operations
Maplin Far East Operations was first established in 1992 due to the increase in the purchasing of items from Taiwan followed by Hong Kong and China. To strengthen buying power, the Maplin Electronics set up its first Far Eastern branch office in Taipei, Taiwan.
The office is in charge of product sourcing, purchasing, inspecting, shipping and payment arrangement from Taiwan and is now the Far East Operations Centre.
The Hong Kong Office was established in 1995 to handle the sourcing, purchasing and shipping from Hong Kong. As most production in Taiwan and Hong Kong have moved to Mainland China, the company registered a representative office in Shenzhen, China, under the Hong Kong Office in 2004. So far, the 3 offices in the Far East handle more than 500 suppliers and 5,000 buying items for the parent company. The major product categories include:
- Electronics components, kits and Tools
- Consumer Electronics
Acquisition of Montagu
In 2004 Montagu Private Equity purchased 67% of Maplin from Graphite Capital at a cost of UK£244 million. In 2007 the company began to relocate its headquarters and distribution centre to a new facility at Brookfields Park on the former Manvers Main Colliery, Rotherham, just two miles from the old warehouse in Wombwell. Maplin discontinued the processing of orders outside of the UK and Ireland in January 2010, but is looking to expand abroad in 2015.
Montagu Private Equity are now evaluating their options with Maplin, as the value of their investment has been realised. It was envisaged that when the market conditions are right, Maplin would float on the London Stock Exchange; as yet nothing has been confirmed.
When Chief Executive Office John Cleland took post of Maplin Electronics on 1 March 2013, he assessed the situation the business was in and concluded that due to the current economic climate resulting in lowering footfall, Maplin Electronics had to make some serious changes as the business would no longer be able to trade by 2015. This did not scare John Cleland though, he set out plans for the Horizon 2015 project.
The Horizon 2015 project established some medium term goals, such as a complete overhaul of the existing stores, widening the product range, and establishing a clear message to the consumer.
Maplin Electronics recently introduce three service guarantees to improve its customer service interface: Price Match, 365 Day 'No Quibble', and Free Home Delivery on all items.
Price Match - on most products, to match other retailers locally
365 Day 'No Quibble' - Returns are handled primarily in-stores instead of being sent away
Free Delivery - No delivery charge when purchasing within the store.
It was announced late 2012, Maplin Electronics was now officially out of debt from their creditor Montague Equity. This was hailed as good news to all of the staff and stake holders of Maplin Electronics, as the recession of 2008 hit the economy hard.
In the company's effort to remain part of the retail industry, it has invested UK £40 million to overhaul its e-commerce platforms on its website and through smart phone apps, and to reach a medium term goal of 300 retail stores throughout the UK and Ireland before expanding abroad in 2015. The company is looking to find vacant store outlets in key cities in which to expand.
In 2013 Maplin Electronics plan to open travel stores in airports and railway stations where it will offer a tailored product selection such as travel adaptors, batteries, laptop chargers etc.
Maplin Electronics sells a large selection of electrical and electronic equipment such as audio/visual devices, components, computer devices and peripherals, cables, television and satellite equipment, everyday electrical items such as batteries & light bulbs, power adaptors and solar energy panels. The company also sells MP3 players, portable televisions and satellite navigation equipment. The target market ranges from the general consumer to the more technical electronics hobbyist.
In November 2012, Maplin Electronics CEO, John Cleland, stated "We want to double the range of products we sell online from 15,000 to 30,000 SKUs (Stock Keeping Unit) in the next three years, in some cases we will work on fulfilling orders by delivering straight from the manufacturer to the customer."
Drop Ship Vending
Since the start of June 2013, Maplin Electronics introduced 'Drop Ship Vending'; which is the ability to purchase goods both online and in-store, without actually storing the stock. Drop Ship Vending, to the customer, means purchase is made through the company, however the goods are dispatched directly from the associated supplier. This effectively allows Maplin Electronics to increase its product range and categories.
- "Maplin Electronics - Company History".
- Store Openings
- Montagu Private Equity announces UK£244 million acquisition of Maplin Electronics[dead link]
- Internal Memo
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