Mergers And Monopolies

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Angling is big business. A huge nationwide business with customers the length and breath of the country with enormous appetites for the latest gear.

Pictures of a long line of anglers queuing to get into the recent Northern Angling Show clearly demonstrates this, as does The Big One “adding” another date at Stoneleigh due to popular demand – rockstar stylie.

But behind all this is a worrying trend – industry consolidation.

Recent news of the acquisition of Chapmans by ‘listed’ Angling Direct plc for £1.4m cash (£1.1m being stock!!) with two stores in the north east.

And Mike Ashley owned JB Sports subsidiary Go Outdoors acquiring fourteen Fishing Republic stores and £700,000 of stock did not get the column inches in the angling press I was expecting.

Not because they are bad deals – or are they? Fishing Republic having been in receivership looks on paper the least attractive as the business model clearly does not work – expect store closures. But because it is indicative of what is happening on the high street in general. Small businesses are disappearing and large corporates are moving in where they see growth and profits to be made.

This is clearly demonstrated when you looks AD’s numbers – £14.5m online with £1.3m on ‘Black Friday’ alone! But interestingly their in store sales were flat year on year.

This trend was clearly demonstrated by the disappearance of the fishing concession at my local garden centre last year followed by the closure of my nearest tackle shop – a black day!

With tackle giants looking to run the show both online and off; what does this mean for anglers, higher or lower prices?

Lower – perhaps with greater buying power, reduced overheads (online and business park premises) and other economy’s of scale. Some of Chapmans £1.1m of audited stock will, no doubt, be offloaded at a reduced rate as AD reviews suppliers – expect deals on the less popular brands.

Higher – possibly, with a reduction in competition there is the temptation to operate a collective monopoly (think BA and Virgin Atlantic) and fix prices high, and also to have fixed rate postage – £4.99 seems to be the going rate at present.

With the loss of the local shop I can’t now call in for that one packet of hooks and terminal gear, having said that they probably wouldn’t have had the bivvy I wanted – after all my online research.

I’m reluctant to buy these small items online as the postage will be more than them put together. So here’s the rub – spend more to get free postage, and that is how the giants win and increase their profits.

Yes the big items are probably best bought online but if every visit costs you £50 to qualify for free P&P, fishing has now become a very expensive pastime, and that’s before you keep up with the latest trend – camouflaged wallets or square kettles!!

Best save your money for Black Friday and anticipate the seasons needs!

Tight[credit]lines online.

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