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.