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GW Annual Report 
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Killed by Khorne
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Quoted from the preamble to the last AGM report:

Quote:
The Future
"Next year, internally, there will be some disruption remaining from the big reorganisation we have just made and from the one man store programme. Nevertheless I, and all the rest of Games Workshop, still believe we should be growing by opening new stores; particularly in North America and Germany."

External events that may affect us are only those things that bother everyone: interest rates, tax rates, exchange rates, directives from Brussels, war, pestilence and disease. What will not change is the eternal desire for some always to want yet more of the small, jewel-like objects of magic and wonder that we call Citadel miniatures.

Beyond next year, the business ought to be able to increase sales (single digit growth, not more) for many years and to provide owners with a steady flow of dividends. I say ‘ought to’ because no plan survives contact with the enemy and we will not promise what we cannot deliver — in particular our policy of only returning surplus cash as dividends will remain. We will not borrow (nor engage in fancy financial engineering) to pay a coupon.

Sales
Reported sales fell by 8.2% to £123.5 million for the year. On a constant currency basis, sales were down by 6.5% from £134.6 million to £125.9 million; progress was achieved in Other sales businesses (+20.9%) and Export (+2.7%) while sales in UK (-7.1%), Continental Europe (-10.6%), North America (-7.5%), Australia (-9.4%) and Asia (-3.3%) were in decline.

Trade
Sales fell by 9% in the year, partially due to the continental european reorganisation and a disappointing year in North America.
Mail order
Our new online shop was launched this year and our online sales are broadly in line with the prior year.
We are vertically integrated. We design, manufacture and distribute ourselves; we have our own stores and web store. With the sole, and rapidly declining, exception of products from Tolkien's books we use only our own imaginary worlds. They are rich enough and deep enough to accommodate anything we may want to make, and they remain our property.

Risks and uncertainties
That we are ex-growth is a big risk seen by some. As I said above I do not believe it. But if it is true we have built a wonderfully efficient cash-generating machine. The bigger risk is the same one I repeat each year, and that is management. So long as we have great people we will be fine. Problems will arise if the board allows egos and private agendas to rule.We also need a constant flow of great managers for our stores. In the end that is still the most important thing of all.

Our market is a niche market made up of people who want to collect our miniatures. They tend to be male, middle-class, discerning teenagers and adults. We do no demographic research, we have no focus groups, we do not ask the market what it wants. These things are otiose in a niche.


- Tom Kirby

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Wed Aug 20, 2014 5:21 pm
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"We do no demographic research, we have no focus groups, we do not ask the market what it wants. These things are otiose in a niche."

Sometimes, doing just a bit of that pays huge dividends, niche market or no. I think a lot of GW's issues can be tied back to the attitude encompassed by that one single sentence.

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Wed Aug 20, 2014 5:29 pm
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Very interesting. +1 to Direweasel.
Coming from a background of a huge multi national multi brand business, this is pretty much what we have team upon teams of people doing to drive the correct behaviours within the company and to deliver profitable initiative lines.

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Wed Aug 20, 2014 5:52 pm
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@direweasel - lol, too right. absolute idiots. surely they'd be undertaking...


Wed Aug 20, 2014 5:57 pm
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Quote:
Risks and uncertainties
That we are ex-growth is a big risk seen by some. As I said above I do not believe it. But if it is true we have built a wonderfully efficient cash-generating machine. The bigger risk is the same one I repeat each year, and that is management. So long as we have great people we will be fine. Problems will arise if the board allows egos and private agendas to rule.We also need a constant flow of great managers for our stores. In the end that is still the most important thing of all.

This part speaks volumes. GW sees itself as a 'wonderfully efficient cash-generating machine.' And that's how it feels to so many of its core constituents. They don't charge what miniatures are worth, they charge what they think they can get away with. The problem is that that leads to massive constituent retention problems: people get involved in the gaming world through GW, then transition on to other games (or even just alternative manufacturers of figures that look remarkably like those made by GW - while staying within copyright limitations). They are then forced to keep mining for new constituents, rather than benefiting from good stewardship of existing ones.

It's kind of funny to see that they think their biggest risk is management. I don't think that it is, to be honest, it's the ever surging ratios of price to miniature (and other products) ratios. It's the elephant in the room, that they seem to want to ignore. When you charge more and more money for less and less product, you eventually lose existing customers and struggle to acquire new ones (due to the high cost of buying in). The cost to purchase a working army from scratch is now truly phenomenal, which makes existing players less likely to branch out and buy new minis (keeping existing armies instead) and reduces the inclination of potential new constituents to buy in at all.

Some years ago, I worked in fundraising/development. The big folks in senior management were always keen to push potential donors for as much money as they could get. Unfortunately, this often either deterred those same donors from contributing at all, or led to a single big donation, followed by disassociation. They may have made money in the short term, but it cost the organization in the longer term. It's better to get a person to pay $10 a year for 5 years than it is to have them pay $20 once and then never again. And this is kind of what GW misses.

The funny thing is that in the direct marketing world, companies often accept a loss when doing initial mailing campaigns. Why? because those people who do respond can be brought on as long term customers, who ultimately contribute a good amount of money over the longer term. Do enough recruiting this way and you create a very solid and reliable source of income. But that relies on good stewardship, and that's where GW goes wrong.

Don't get me wrong - I am usually an advocate for GW and believe that it's a lot better value than others often make out. In particular, I am always keen to point out that GW's competitors are, in many ways, not other miniature and game manufacturers, but in fact game consoles, computer games, dvds, and so forth, as they compete for the same pockets of disposable income, particularly (but certainly not exclusively) young males. But I just think it's a shame for them, and the gaming community generally, that they engage in self destructive practices that drive people away from my favourite game system (8th ed is the best war game I know, and I've played a good number) to other games.

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Wed Aug 20, 2014 6:55 pm
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Red's right, and it ties right back into my point. They might know all of these things (and more) to some degree, if they bothered to occasionally ask their fanbase's opinions now and again.

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Wed Aug 20, 2014 6:58 pm
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GW have gone 'Full corporate' on us. While once upon a time they would have offered the community some goodwill over pricing or rules, that just doesn't happen any more. Space Marines now get unit upon unit with every release (Anyone remember when new tech was akin to a holy grail in 40k?) and Warhammer is now awash with impractical character/monster models and monstrous cavalry (Oh, you have monstrous cavalry? Here, have a moving cannon).

Over average I spent more than £100 a year on GW, which adds up for them if many other long term players (21 years of experience here...)spend similar amounts. But I hit my limit a few years back with what I want to buy and actually finding players (40k is far more popular). I don't even buy every army book like I used to...they're just far too much for something that would sit on my shelf 99% of the time.

40k, thanks to all its flyers and 'stuff that belongs in Epic' turned me off it in 5th ed. I do wonder with all the big magic and monster style in WH that 9th ed will kill my interest once and for all.

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Mon Aug 25, 2014 9:54 pm
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Rork wrote:
40k, thanks to all its flyers and 'stuff that belongs in Epic' turned me off it in 5th ed. I do wonder with all the big magic and monster style in WH that 9th ed will kill my interest once and for all.
I ceased to play 40 k with the previous edition, where flyers ruled the battlefield. Didn't even bother to buy the present edition, and all models are stored in a box.

What I hate in WH is the trend for gigantic toys. A chariot used to hold in a chariot base, then Empire chariots started being skyscrapers, DE 6 wheel chariots are so large they had to renounce to pull them by beasts.
I like to play with miniatures which can be stored in a small carrying case, not with large, easily broken expensive models which rend useless all lovely painted normal-sized models.

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Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:24 am
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My biggest gripe - while everyone is on this topic.

I searched their website the other day and all the prices were US when I swapped to AUD they almost doubled. Now you can't tell me that is not a grab for cash when the Aussie dollar is almost on parity.

Also this new release they have with Nagash - they are selling their stock using shock tactics for a quick sale. I wanted to get the Undead Battle Magic set, it only went on sale the other day and already they are sold out in one day :( Sorry how hard is it to get more cards printed, its not like they are not going to sell - now I have to look on ebay and pay $50 instead of $10.

I dread walking into my local GW store these days - they are very over priced and there is no incentive to buy form them. They do not stock a full range of their items and puch the online ordering. They always do the whole sales pitch to get me to buy the latest and greatest for the month.

I have more fun going down to the local game centre where they have more GW stock as well as other items - I can also buy single minis from their budget bin :D I'm quite happy to spend half an hour sifting through plastics to find a $2 bargin.


They're Armies on Parade is a complete grab for cash to sell you more stock - unfortunately I find my self participating because there is nothing else.

GW have lost the plot - it could be so much better if they thought of their customer first!

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Cultofkhaine wrote:
I searched their website the other day and all the prices were US when I swapped to AUD they almost doubled. Now you can't tell me that is not a grab for cash when the Aussie dollar is almost on parity.


I'm sure they'd probably chalk it up to additional shipping distance and cost, but it can't be THAT much more to ship in bulk in Aus...

That's crazy.

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Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:26 am
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Cant get them on the GW website but can get them on Ebay at 5 times the price

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Warhammer-Battle-Magic-Cards-Lore-of-Undeath-New-Games-Workshop-Undead-Fantasy-/321499290443?pt=UK_Toys_Wargames_RL&hash=item4adad9db4b

Why won't the bastards print extra!

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Tue Aug 26, 2014 2:39 pm
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Quote:
"We do no demographic research, we have no focus groups, we do not ask the market what it wants. These things are otiose in a niche."


That's why, Cultofkhaine. :roll:

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Tue Aug 26, 2014 2:53 pm
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Cultofkhaine wrote:
I searched their website the other day and all the prices were US when I swapped to AUD they almost doubled. Now you can't tell me that is not a grab for cash when the Aussie dollar is almost on parity.
direweasel wrote:
I'm sure they'd probably chalk it up to additional shipping distance and cost, but it can't be THAT much more to ship in bulk in Aus...

That's crazy.

For years Australian customers were able to purchase GW models from European independent games stores at European GW prices. The shipping cost was a little higher than for Europeans, but the end cost was massively below that of Australian GW prices. GW fixed that hole a while back by placing a legal requirement on the independent games stores it sold to in Europe that they could onlysell to European buyers.

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Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:24 pm
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Cultofkhaine wrote:
Why won't the bastards print extra!


GW seem to work on the basis of "Make and sell 5000 (or whatever) and make a profit" instead of having unsold stock hitting their bottom line (which is looking increasingly parlous). Build up demand and guarantee sales, ultimately.

They know the collectors' market is easy meat for this sort of thing.

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Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:31 pm
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Red... wrote:
For years Australian customers were able to purchase GW models from European independent games stores at European GW prices. The shipping cost was a little higher than for Europeans, but the end cost was massively below that of Australian GW prices. GW fixed that hole a while back by placing a legal requirement on the independent games stores it sold to in Europe that they could onlysell to European buyers.


There is still eBay.

When I've sold my excess GW stuff on eBay, a disproportionate number of my buyers have been from Australia.

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Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:37 pm
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Dyvim tvar wrote:
There is still eBay.

When I've sold my excess GW stuff on eBay, a disproportionate number of my buyers have been from Australia.


Hmmm, now that you mention it, the same is true of me as well. I just sold my Lizardman Army on eBay, and about half of the auction winners were down under.

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Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:40 pm
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Rork wrote:
Cultofkhaine wrote:
Why won't the bastards print extra!




GW seem to work on the basis of "Make and sell 5000 (or whatever) and make a profit" instead of having unsold stock hitting their bottom line (which is looking increasingly parlous). Build up demand and guarantee sales, ultimately.

They know the collectors' market is easy meat for this sort of thing.



Very true. They seemed to first begin dabbling with it around the start of 8th ed, when they released the collector's edition book (which I dutifully purchased), of which only 3,000 were printed.

It appeared to kick into high gear with their sale of a seemingly innocuous supplementary book on flyers for 40k, called "Death from the Skies." They only printed a few, and limited its availability to their website, preventing GW stores and indy stores alike from stocking it (probably because they knew the book was crap, which it was). But it was a massive success for them money-wise: they sold all of their available copies within hours, and had to commission a further print job to meet the demand from slavering 40k players. Reflecting on this success, they seem to have moved to a model of stocking tons of 'limited availability' products, being now aware of several advantages of it: their risk of being left with unused stock decreases, they increase the incentive for players to purchase goods more quickly (when faced with the decision of buying a product today that will be available for a long period, many people will postpone the purchase, but if that same product is going to be soon unavailable, many people will purchase it today), and they fuel a general sense of excitement about products and feeling of privilege in owning them amongst successful purchasers, which again promotes future buying.

It's a terrible long-term model because, handled badly, it pisses clientele off. But long-term models have little place amongst many businesses today, including GW. The mantra seems to be: maximise sales today and we'll figure out what to do about tomorrow when it comes.



direweasel wrote:
Dyvim tvar wrote:
There is still eBay.

When I've sold my excess GW stuff on eBay, a disproportionate number of my buyers have been from Australia.




Hmmm, now that you mention it, the same is true of me as well. I just sold my Lizardman Army on eBay, and about half of the auction winners were down under.

Yes, and they can be quite sneaky about it, bidding on the UK site and then requesting after that you post it to Australia. I don't mind when it happens (indeed, many offer to pay over the price of the international postage), but it's kind of funny!

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Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:41 pm
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I can no longer buy stock from a store it is just to expensive - my only source for models now is Bit sites and Ebay. If I have to I will support my local non GW game store, at least they carry the stock.

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I only buy new GW product to support my local store TBH I can wait an extra month to save up the difference and know I have a spot I can play at.

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Wed Aug 27, 2014 12:25 am
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I just can't believe the excerpt quoted by TD in the OP. I don't think I've ever seen a corporation permit such a ... careless... borderline trolling text to be published. In fact, if it weren't quoted by TD, I would have been sure this was fake.
How does this post, in any way, attract potential investors? "We give no promises" "We ain't gonna do this" "We ain't gonna do that" "We're on a decline, but yeah, we're an efficient machine"?
I really doubt the source, and if not the source, then the communication skills of whomever wrote this.

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Daeron wrote:
I just can't believe the excerpt quoted by TD in the OP. I don't think I've ever seen a corporation permit such a ... careless... borderline trolling text to be published. In fact, if it weren't quoted by TD, I would have been sure this was fake. [...] I really doubt the source, and if not the source, then the communication skills of whomever wrote this.

It's close to the realms of Poe's law, but the document is posted on the London Stock Exchange.

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Thanks gentleman,

I share your broad thoughts on the matter. What struck me most was the arrogance of the delivery.

Quote:
We do no demographic research, we have no focus groups, we do not ask the market what it wants.


Breaking the first law of Marketing: Ask your customers what they want.

Breaking the first law of Business: And them provide them with what they want.


Quote:
But if it is true we have built a wonderfully efficient cash-generating machine.


Breaking the second law of Business: It's about the Customer, not about You.

This statement reveals just what the top management think of us! :roll:

Is GW really as arrogant as it seems? On one hand I think it may be, on the other I don't know if Mr Kirby is doing a classic Sun Tzu "when weak feign strength". False bravado perhaps? Falling share prices and declining shares are basically flashing red lights and warning sirens on the stock exchange.

The real long-term danger for GW in my opinion is the rise of 3D printing. It may not be competitive now, but just like microprocessors and the internet, its usefulness will rapidly expand it to the point that it becomes high quality and cheap sooner than later. Only their IP (or moving in to 3D printing) will allow them to ride out this coming wave IMO.

Overall, as one of the poor suckers emotionally invested in their products, I am a supporter of Games Workshop. They give emerging adults a very rich and detailed game world and associated products. I had great times growing up listening to Metallica, Nirvana and GnR with my mates while playing epics games all Saturday long. It'd be a shame if there wasn't the same rich and stimulating imaginary world for younger generations to appreciate and play their part in.

I do hope GW pull things together. I actually think there is great opportunity for growth with their product, especially overseas and in emerging markets. High exposure collaborations with big boardgame makers -- like Heroquest and Spacehulk with MB Games -- worked for them in the past, and could be a good vehicle for the future. When I was younger I wanted these boardgames, but had no knowledge or interest in Warhammer ...until I saw the adverts for the cool painted miniature soldiers that came with said boardgame! While there is the Space Marine computer games, I have the feeling that current early teenagers have no "collectible miniatures portal" into the GW Universe as we once did.

Quote:
We also need a constant flow of great managers for our stores. In the end that is still the most important thing of all.


I agree with Red that the problems/solutions are not management-based. Unless we are talking about the overarching strategy of the top management. Anyone who games in the U.K. for a period of time will no doubt have come into contact with those who work in the games industry; these people, often ex-GW, are appalled by their marketing strategy, especially in the U.S.

They really need to step out of their self imposed "we don't talk to anyone" bubble if they want the company to expand and to thrive. I'd like to see GW use their market position to reduce prices and flood markets, but I think they may have painted themselves into a corner with their high prices; think Porche pricing its models the same as Fords -- it would hurt Porche a lot more than Ford! If their bottom line does not allow significant price reductions, they must maintain the highest quality throughout their whole product ranges.


So, very surprised by the content and manner of this public statement. But on the plus side, I did learn a new word: 'otiose'.

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Sun Oct 05, 2014 7:20 pm
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Lol I had to Google that one too!


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I was thinking about this the other day, and I wondered if maybe what they meant to communicate was: "we consider ourselves passionate experts in the business of making miniatures, and our managers have regular contact with our customers at multiple front-end venues. Consequently, we do not need to commission market research, because we are already talking to our customers on a continual basis, and thus are completely in sync with their needs and desires already." Of course, that's not what they said, but it is - perhaps - what they should have said (and maybe even meant to say).

Galling arrogance of it all aside, it is unusual to see such candidness presented in an annual report. Usually those documents are made to be fops that parrot out the language of "look how awesome we are" while the real conversations about change occur behind closed doors. That suggests several possibilities: i) the senior staff are determined to stamp their authority all over their shareholders faces in a very deliberate and public way, ii) they didn't expect anyone to read the document, or iii) they just plain don't understand the realities of the business world and what annual reports are meant to be.

Very good point about the threat of 3D printing T.D. - I doubt they have done much to prepare themselves for it (to be fair, nor have other mini companies really), and I think when it hits, they are going to feel a lot of pain. That said, that's true for many industries too. Vive la revolution?

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Think the overpricing of minies may have contributed its 100 million loss in revenues? Seriously, just wow, just wow.

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