Rumbelows

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Rumbelows
Former type Private
Industry Electrical retailing
Founded 1969
Founders Fred Dawes
Defunct 1995

Rumbelows was an electrical and electronics retailer in the United Kingdom which once rivalled Currys, Dixons and Comet.

History[edit]

The company was established by Fred Dawes as a chain of television and radio rental shops in the 1950s. The business was initially named Fred Dawes. In 1969, the business was sold to Radio Rentals (which had merged with Thorn Electrical Industries in 1968), and all the rental accounts were transferred to Radio Rentals. All 90 of the Fred Dawes high street stores became electrical retailers instead, and were renamed Rumbelows.

Several other regional chains were bought around this time period, including two chains that were already large and popular in Northwest England, NEMS, and Strothers. As with Fred Dawes, these stores too were renamed Rumbelows. Combining previously unrelated chains occasionally created competing Rumbelows stores within yards of each other. Unfortunately, none of the values that made these small chains so successful were retained. Centralised, dictatorial control was established from the Nantwich, Cheshire, headquarters, which suffered as much as it benefited as an early adopter of computerised accounting. Several of the former Strothers and NEMS stores also sold records, musical instruments and hi-fi equipment. The Rumbelows store in Whitechapel, Liverpool had been the heart of the NEMS Enterprises empire during the 1960s, when NEMS was owned by the Beatles' manager Brian Epstein.

Demise[edit]

Thorn EMI transferred all of Rumbelow’s rental accounts over to their Radio Rentals chain, bolstering its market position. With its core business removed, Rumbelows sought a new identity as a more conventional (non-rental) retailer, even adding computers to the product mix.

In 1992, Thorn converted some of the remaining Rumbelows shops into DER, Multibroadcast or Radio Rentals branches. Few observers were surprised by the reduction in profitability that resulted from this 'unconventional' business tactic, and fewer still were surprised when Thorn closed the remaining 285 Rumbelows shops in February 1995.[1][2] Some stores were sold to the German PC retail chain Escom. Escom itself subsequently folded in 1996 following financial difficulties.

In the 1980s, Martin Dawes (born c.1945), Fred's son, would carry on the family name in the electrical and electronic retailing sector, with his telecommunications business (mobile phones), which he sold in 1999 for £130m.

Notable advertising campaign[edit]

In the early 1990s an advert was created which consisted of a song telling the viewer that anyone shopping at Rumbelows would not 'Pay any more Mrs Moore', referring to paying more at another store if they did not come to Rumbelows. The commercial became popular in the UK for its use of computer-generated imagery and talking household goods.

Football sponsorship[edit]

For two seasons, from 1990 to 1992, Rumbelows were the title sponsor of the English Football League Cup, a professional association football competition.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shepherd, John (4 February 1995). "Rumbelows set to disappear". The Independent. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Cope, Nigel (8 February 1995). "Thorn EMI pulls plug on its `beached whale'". The Independent. Retrieved 16 January 2013. 

External links[edit]