High street electronics and components retail chain Maplin is at risk of being placed into administration after trade-credit insurance was withdrawn from the company late last year, while the company's owners are in rescue talks with potential buyers.
The company is the only retailer of its type left in the UK offering not just devices and gadgets but also components, making it the pretty much the only 'prosumer' store of its type. However, it has struggled in recent years against the stiff price competition offered by online outlets.
It is reported by Sky News that suppliers have withdrawn credit insurance, meaning that it can only obtain stock via upfront purchase - a precarious situation in retail that frequently precedes an administration order.
Rutland Partners, which has rescued a number of chains in the UK and which took control of the company in 2014, is in discussions with potential buyers with the company pitching to reinvent itself as a smart home specialist, including installation as well as retail.
The "2020 Vision Strategy" will see Maplin pushing against the 'hands off' approach of the likes of Amazon, instead offering to take people from sale to installation to aftercare.
As a retail business, Maplin has struggled to compete with online retailers, with many people using it to find what they need and then go off and buy it cheaper online. Although competitive in some areas in others the company's prices have been way too high.
In recent years, Maplin has widened its range to include Android smartphones and tablets, toys and gadgets and more computer peripherals, but it has still struggled to widen its customer base.
Even with the rise of the slightly "cooler" Raspberry Pi and BBC micro:bit, its target customers still tend source parts online, while its own online offering remains poor in comparison to, for example, Amazon.
It's also never been great at communicating its stock availability or marketing and PR.
It is understood that Maplin believes it will be a "solvent sale", that is to say, it will be bought without going into administration.
One possible buyer is reported to be the company behind Edinburgh Woollen Mill, which has bought a string of UK retailers over the past 15 or so years.
However, a pre-pack administration, in which it goes into administration with a buyer already lined up to cherry-pick the viable parts of the business while shedding some financial obligations, is also a possibility.
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