Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Games Workshop Earnings Down

One of the really nice things (were I of a more cynical turn of mind, I might be tempted to say the only nice thing) about Games Workshop is that they make public their earnings statements. I believe that's because they're publicly traded, but I couldn't swear to it. Perhaps one of my players will be able to answer that question.

Anyway, ICv2 has a very nice article up on the recent GW earnings statement and other related news relating to the company. Apparently their sales were down 4% from last year, due mostly in reductions from their company-owned stores. I've never been inside one, so I can't tell you from personal experience what they're like, but this was telling:

While overall sales declined in North America and Northern Europe, sales through independent retailers in those territories actually grew.

They changed their staffing in their stores, apparently, making at least some of them single-man operations in order to cut costs. Yikes! You're stuck in the store all day by yourself, unable to so much as go to the bathroom without locking the front door, and heaven help your weekly sales figures if you have to take a sick day or stay home for the plumber to fix a pipe.

I've worked in a retail games store myself (The Compleat Strategist in Boston), and I can't even imagine what running that as a one-man-show would be like. It seems like GW is being penny-wise and pound-foolish, and those sales figures are bearing it out. There are other factors at work, of course, and you can only really discern trends in the long-term, but from a common sense perspective this turn does make a certain amount of sense.

Of course, they could save money by making true 25mm figures instead of 28mm (or even larger!), but I digress.

3 comments:

Atom Kid said...

I used to really like GW, but their games seem a little (for lack of a better word) childish. Warhammer an Wahammer 40K has such a limited appeal.

I loved GW back when they used to make really innovative boardgames like Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, Oi! Dat's My Leg, Talisman, Blood Bowl, Dark Future, Mordheim, but now they just focus on their two flagship wargames.

Brian Lujan said...

I hate to sound like a jerk, but it serves them right. I used to play quite a bit of 40k and I can tell you, they gouge their customers with their prices.

They have outstanding minis, no question. But you can get equally good product from a half dozen other companies for half the price.

And don't get me started on how they constantly increased the effectiveness of the "latest" army to encourage players to buy the "latest" minis...

Its a shame too, because the storyline and fluff for the 40k universe is outstanding.

Northy said...

Yeah, they're required to make public earnings statements under British law because of being a publicly traded company.

And also, yeah, they've totally screwed up their NA store setups with the latest boneheaded ideas. The major problem that they face, though, is still their prices and the competition from independent and internet retailers. Corporately, they can't reduce their store prices, so they'll have to start looking for other ways to compete if they want to get out of this - one excuse they formerly used was that their stores were 'hobby centers', literally one-stop-shops where they could even learn to play, paint or model from the experienced staffers there.

Then they fired us poor staffers.