Friday, September 27, 2013

Games Workshop Retail Store Changes




Games Workshop is making changes to their retail stores. 
A couple of sources inside Games Workshop have told me two important bits of information.

1)  All store managers have been moved from being on an hourly rate, to being on salary.  What that means is no overtime for the overworked managers manning Games Workshop stores all on their own.  And considering how low the salary is for these managers, that is going to mean a lot of income according to some managers.  It should be noted that these managers get bonuses based on growth.

2)  All of the training staff that also served as area managers of a sort, (save one) have all been fired.  That means there is no one training these managers who are now even more reliant on their growth bonuses.

Games Workshop has struggled with their retail strategy in the USA.  And the GW retail stores are important to grow the hobby and GW business.  

But GW steadfastly refuses to INVEST in these stores.  They have all but eliminated the bunker concept, and the rest of the stores have been shrunk to one man stores.  GW is ruthless with stores that are not very profitable.  

So, do you ever go to a GW store?  Why or why not?

Nykona

UPDATE:

I was told by a GW store employee that they have a bonus system, which grants store managers 20% of growth every quarter, and this can make up for the lack of overtime.  Also, store hours are now 100% up to the manager.  They can work as much or little as they want as long as they are performing.

 

15 comments:

Col. Dracus said...

I don't go to GW stores. Their prices are too high, the staff is normally pushy and there is no room to play. I only ever went to the LA Bunker for events and only ordered Forge World when they still offered it.

Gonewild said...

I have been to three of the GW stores in located in Western Washington. All three managers were really cool people and provided amazing customer service. I just don't see how that positive energy can be maintained when you add this development with the one-man store model.

When you have stores that offer a 10-20% discount on the same product, game space, and do not control the way patron's play (and what they play with), there is really no reason to step foot into a Gee Dub store. It is a failing model to say the least...I thought closing the bunkers was a nail in the coffin, but, I think putting these underpaid employees on salary takes the cake.
What a joke.

James Notmyrealname said...

We have a very uncommon GW store. We have 6 tables and a huge paint bar. We had 8 tables but a year ago, 2 of them were converted to holding product with crappy displays.

I used to go every day but the atmosphere and prices dictate that I only go on saturdays now. I rarely buy from there anymore. I go to a local store that gives discounts based on how much you buy. I'm the only person that gets the best discount available and I get it all the time now because I buy so much every month. Alot of our veteran players have either dropped the games or started going to other stores. It's almost to the point where saturdays are hard for getting decent games with different people.

I've recently decided its time to phase out of this company. I was planning on starting an Empire and Night Lords legion this month (on top of finishing my ogre counts as and the dark elf release) but I can't justify $60 witch boxes which supposedly are now core. I was looking forward to the Nids release that was supposed to come in a month but now I wouldnt be surprised to see a bunch of $50+ basic kits.

I used to be able to drop $500 and have a brand new army (any army). Now only very specific armies or lists are capable of that. And on top of that, the rules are written like garbage. Privateer Press writes rules a whole lot better.

Regnirok said...

"Hi. We're GW. We would like to introduce you to our massive retail empire that, year after year, after year, is generally a giant financial disappointment to us. Yet, for some unknown mystery reason we hold onto it with a death grip."

Let it go GW. Do what you do well, and focus on it. Stop trying to do things that you do not do well.

Zab said...

Here in the Toronto we have lost 3 out of 4 GW stores and the last one is more and more deserted. Last time I went in and bought something was when the Dark Vengeance set was released. Oddly, I don't miss GW stuff now that I've had a look around at all the other great mini co's out there...

Vargna said...

I know its different as I'm based in the UK but while I play in a club and with my friends I endeavour to buy my product from GW even though I could get money off from places like Wayland. I have two main reasons for this; the first is that there isn't really any chance of getting burned like the Maelstrom Games incident and apart from if you buy something being imminently discontinued you know you can actually get it within the 4 days they say you will. The second which is probably more controversial is simply that if more people bought from GW direct instead of these 10% off places, they would be less likely to raise prices. They sell their product to independent retails for about 40% of the RRP, so when you buy £50 models they only receive £20 to cover the costs of design production etc whilst the independent who only had to stock and mail it to you/have it on a shelf gets the rest. If you buy from GW they get that full RRP - if even a small number of people switched back to GW the numbers would go up enough to keep the suits satisfied with the margins so that GW wouldn't need to raise the prices. The 'annual price hikes' weren't a thing when these online independents didn't exist selling at 20% off but since they've been around, especially the last few years, GW have needed to increase prices - yes they didn't reflect the increase in cost of plastic etc when you look at the RRP but when you look at what they're actually having to sell most of it at - 40% - it makes a lot more sense.

St. Zondo XXIII said...

From my understanding, and speaking from the US, this is a recipe for a huge class action lawsuit. The major retail corporation I manages for for 20 years got hit hard. I personally saw a several thousand dollar payout. To be salaried as a manager you need someone to manage and to perform management task, not sales tasks, for over 60% of the time. Possibly the "only worker" thing changes that, but if I were one of these poor employees I would be talking to a lawyer ASAP

xNickBaranx said...

I still buy from GW and I still play at the are Bunker. I still love the products and the Dark Angel releases I bought in January were worth every penny to me with the joy I got out of them and the crazy amount of extra bitz compatible with my existing stockpiles of marine bitz. I've gotten 17 years of joy out of my Dark Angels - dropping an extra $200 every 4-5 years when we get a new book is no big thing. Its worth it to me. But lets talk about the Retail chain.

First, to better understand GW Stores you need to understand why they exist. I worked for GW from 1998-2001. Back then the retail chain was in a huge growth spurt. It was fully understood and accepted that none of these stores, nor the retail chain as a whole, would turn a profit for years because of that growth (the goal was always for the retail chain to make a single penny in the US. They finally did in the mid 2000's). It was clearly laid out that Independent Retailers were the lifesblood of GW's sales, though they understood that mail order was likely the wave of the future with the growing popularity of internet shopping.

So why grow the Retail chain if you don't see it competing long term with Independent Retailers or Mail Order? GW's Retail chain is an advertising tool - plain and simple. Their role was to grow the hobby. The goal was to be there to display all sorts of cool models and be able to run a 5-10 minute intro that was Fast, Fun, and Furious to hook in new hobbyists. GW Retail stores are like a live "info-mercial" for the GW Hobby, that has been their role for the last 15 years.

It seems that the goal in stripping down the stores is to do exactly that in the most inexpensive way possible. My store had 5-6 employees and the turnover of employees was insane - 200% annually chain wide. Usually only a couple of those guys were full on hobby nuts who lived and breathed GW culture and the rest just wanted the employee discount while they were going to college. The amount of money spent on training just to have people jump ship when their collection reached saturation or to get fired for sharing their discount and blatantly not caring about the expectations set upon them... I'm sure GW thought, "This employee turnover rate is not going away and we're spending tens of thousands of dollars just on training. Why don't we just keep the guys that get it and quit wasting money on those that are just here to leech product for 3-6 months and then quit/get fired?"

Don't get me wrong, at my stores peak we had an ace staff that grew the hobby exponentially in my home town and some of the kids we got into the hobby in their teens are FLGS owners back home now (which is awesome). I think we did pretty good. But only 2 out of the 20 staffers I cycled through had aspirations of sticking with GW as a career.

I'm sure at the end of the day they decided their advertising tool was way too bloated. Its a shame because some of those stores were able to do amazing things, but I understand both sides of the story - or I should say all sides of the story (I've also worked in LGS' on and off the last 20 years too). GW's actions make sense in a lot of cases if you have the full picture.

Meigeall said...

You can't grow a hobby that most people can't afford to even start in.

TheGraveMind said...

See I see it as the other way around. If people buy at full price, it shows that people will still pay the rediculous prices and they can raise it more cause they haven't hit the threshold. Gw has shown how greedy they are and will always raise prices when able.

Lufgt Huron said...

I know the term FLGW doesn't really exist in the eyes and ears of the tabletop world, but I shop at a GW store because it's a FLGW.

When I walk in, I hear the usual script, "Hey welcome back, what brings you in, what are you working on" the usual, but that's where it ends unless I want it to go further, he listens to what I want, doesn't give opinions unless I want them, and is friendly about the whole thing, If he helps me with something he'll ask If i'd like to buy it, and if I say no he'll ask if I have any concerns, but doesn't try to hard sell me.

The shop always has someone there to play games, if not the manager will play a game with me. I do go to FLGS stores for glue and putty supplies because I like other brands, and GW does't sell accelerator spray.

While I realize not all GW stores are like this, mine is pretty friendly, I know I could be saving a little bit getting 20% off, but back when I started I got a battleforce at a LGS and tried getting help building it and was pretty much told that they are too busy, which typically meant they were talking with friends, playing card games or working on their on stuff.

Mark Thomson said...

I don't go in very much now. The stores are frequently too small to paint in or game in, they don't have much stock so I often can't pick up the character models without ordering them and waiting two weeks, and some of them are aggressively pushy! The pricing is getting way to expensive now also! I'm sticking to the independent stores if possible, or buying Warmachine instead! Funnily enough I did go past the local store today, and I thought i'd pop in and see what was happening, and it was closed! So missed opportunity for them again!

Lufgt Huron said...

That's so sad.

I went on vacation to family in Tacoma and visited a GW store up there and the Manager up there, I don't remember her name, but she doesn't let people use non GW paints or glue in her store.

I think that's kinda outrageous, I understand that policy with using non GW models in the stores because what you can see is what you can buy, but telling someone that they can't build their models with the glue of their choice or paint, is a little wacky and off.

I'm glad my FLGW isn't run by a wack job like that.

Actually one redeeming thing is that he'll recommend trade accounts to people who are looking for things he doesn't have rather than ignore them.

So, I think it's pretty crappy that there's more bad managers than there are good ones, but hopefully that's changing, I guess from what he said the bad ones are dropping like flies.

Unknown said...

Ok lets break this down.
FLGS have been serving many of these areas for way longer.
Alot of FLGS also offer spme sport pf discount.
GW stores are not a full hobby / game shop.
You have to actually go into the GW store and place a order for what they do not stock, but being a GW store should stock ALL GW products.

Why I dont play at my local GW over playing at FLGS.

Space, Tables and players. My GW store simply has none of these. While my FLGS has plenty of all of these and I dont have to pull merchandise out pf my butt if I back up.

Stucarius said...

I don't go because of hours, lack of gaming , they do not carry direct sells only product and they do not carry Forge World. Oh yeah, NO DISCOUNT!!!!

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