Monday, 10 January 2011

Workshop News

The Grey Knight Codex is out in April. I am quite looking forward to that one.

Meanwhile extra scenarios for the Badab War are avaiable from Forge World here:

and here:

On another note, I wondered how one man shops and a sharp reduction in main shop staff (the part timers were disposed of) would play out against GW's business model that depends on getting kids into the store and teaching them how to play.

The answer appears to be not well going by GW's summer results. The company has issued a profits warning, expecting sales to be down 4% on market expectations for the financial year 2010-2011. Royalties are also down on the previous year. Shares fell 12%.

"Peel Hunt analyst Charles Hall cut his profit forecast for the retailer by £5m to £12m but said the retailer still had "excellent long potential", highlighting a "one-man" store format that offered a low-cost route to expansion" [From the Guardian Newspaper].

Hmm. I wonder if Charles Hall understands how the GW business model works. How will one man stores run entry games and mass kids games? That still puzzles me.

A rumour circulating down at my wargaming club is that the company has cut their store managers pay by regrading the shops. I emphasise that this is just gossip. I do not know any store managers well enough to ask such a personal question.


  1. Don't get me started on my local GW store's departure from a wonderful bunch of guys that worked there to the mushroom that is now growing in the dank void left behind.

  2. We were talking about the same thing at the club last night.
    Ebay, online retailers offering 20% discount on web order are the way to go for GW models i fear. Whilst the shops still have a place to play they dont do much to encourage the 30 somethings who are returning to the hobby after doing the women, serious careers and children thing. Nothing worse than walking into a shop to be told by a 13yr old that you suck. usually explaining to them that i was playing before they were born shuts them up...

    I have 3 armies all apoc size and pretty much less than 10% of the total models have been bought directly from GW, maybe 20% more from online retailers and the rest via ebay. The tyranids alone would probably set me back best part of £1K to build from new again but probably cost let than £350 in total on ebay.

    Game with a good club, buy from online etailers and ebay and enjoy it.

    Another rumour : GW are considering moving to resin and away from metal. I wouldnt want to drop any resin figures!

  3. Dear Cyborg
    The company does seem to despise its own sales staff.

  4. Dear Zed
    I suspect that they have too move to resin to cut manufacturing costs associated with metal. Pewter is expensive.
    Plastic is expensive to develop (but cheap to manufacture).
    I still find it fascinating that a financial analyst thinks a craft company can prosper by economising by cutting its sales staff. Hall doesn't seem to understand the difference between selling a craft to kids and unloading baked beans in a supermarket.

  5. I dropped into my local GW (in the Lakeside Shopping Center in essex) yesteday. There were probably a dozen people in shop when I entered and one frazzled looking member of staff. I only went in to pick up a can of Purity Seal varnish but it took a good quarter of an hour to pay for it.

    It wasn't the staff guys fault, he was working his socks off answering questions, looking for stock, running the checkout. Clearly a lunch break was out of the question and one has to ask what happened to employment law regarding breaks etc? I can see how GW can save money by employing less staff but I can't see how they can get away with it. And as for quality of service...

  6. Biglee

    I;ve been in that one and ended up answering bemused parent and 12yr olds questions for the GW staff.

    But I have to agree with John. Their whole model of operation is geared to the 12 - 15yr olds and NOT the people who really spend the money namely us sad lot.

    A friend used to run the Giggling Goblin in Ramsgate and he commented that the big problem was the 12 - 15yr olds grew up and didnt come back to hobby.

    A lot of the club members at A20 are returning late 20-40 something 40K players who remember Rogue Trader, 2nd edition etc. The GW shops just don't cater for 'us'

  7. Dear Lee,
    How much longer are people going to work at that rate for minimum wage? Fortunately, they seem to be keeping up staffing levels at Bluewater.

  8. eBay and the Internets is now where I get most of what I need as full sets don't interest me as much as specific bits for my projects now a days. Whenever I have to go to the southside I stop in just to see how bad and empty the store is. It's a real shame cause the old crew made that place rock with sales and customers.

  9. Dear Cyborg
    The staff turnover seems to be extraordinary.

  10. having worked for GW for 3 years as both a blue shirt and a maanager it was the 1 man store format t hat finally "broke" me and drove me to leave the company.

    i loved the job but felt like i was being massivly exploited and treatedvery unfairly. since i left 18 months ago i know at least 6-9 staff memebers (mostly management) who have left due to the changing face of the company. its no fun working there anymore....

  11. Zed,
    I had worked for GW for nearly a decade, and even used to be the manager at the shop CyborgTrucker went to (what's up, man!?! when you comin' down?). And I must reply to your 'idea' of GW's business model. GW DOES cater to the younger crowd, for two reasons: 1)they NEED the help, and the 25 year vets are rarely good help. I'm one of them, and it took training to learn HOW TO help the kids; 2)the young people DO spend all the money. I've run 5 different shops across America, and there was never an exception to the money ratio. The older gamers bought the new releases, and one ENTIRE army once a year, maybe. The kids, on the other hand, bought everything from paints to dudes and books and everything else. I can tell you that now, as a 'civilian gamer' again, I don't buy anything at my game shop. GW knows this and so the staff are intensely trained to handle younger people. Also, 15 year-old Johnny doesn't drop out of the hobby until he's 30 (or college). I've had the honor of seeing many many kids 'grow up' in the hobby, and stick with it for a long time. But the older gamers already have everything, already have their opinions, and really like what got them into the game before (ex: 2nd edition 40k. Not easy to 'lure' them into the shop for a 5th edition campaign...) Try being a red-shirt and talking to CyborgTrucker. He'll tell you himself, it ain't easy (luckily, I'm older and wear colors other than red. It helped :-P) GW DOES care about the older gamers, but our shops and staff aren't usually good at dealing with them, for obvious reasons (age gap, experience gap, just poor attitudes outta the gamers, etc.). That's a discussion for another post...
    Anonymous the first,
    Count me in that crew. I left for exactly the same reasons. I love the company and the games, but I like my real-life family more and the ability to possibly improve my lot in life more. We made good pay (at least here in America), but not for the sudden 'unfun-ness' of the best job in the world.

  12. Great comment. It's tough to put yourself in GW's shoes. Clearly they're dead keen on making enough money to keep going, and it would be unfair to say that their miniatures are anything other than first rate.

    That said, if I were in charge I would be looking for a way to kill off eBay sales. Sure it's easier to say than to do but every miniature bought on eBay is a miniature recycled.

    From an ecological point of view it's wonderful. For the business? It's a huge disaster. Don't get me wrong, I do a great deal of buying and selling on eBay.

    Personally I don't want it to stop. But I've not bought a single thing from a GW store in YEARS. There's a retail outlet 10 minutes away where I can pick most stuff up for 25% off.

    Why would I buy direct? I love the hobby but I need a better answer to that question.

    Savings are seldom the answer to business challenges, increased income is the answer. GW need to find a way to bring us back to their stores and away from the second hand market. I just don't know how they're going to do it.

    Love the blog by the way.