A Sad Farewell In Seaton

Akermans has closed after 211 years of trading in the town.

Although the name is still on the step …

… the store is now empty.

Of course, Akerman did not just mong iron; the helpful staff sold almost anything you could think of from a few screws to a small tile cutter.
If they hadn’t got it, they would advise where to go to get it OR, more often, how to do it differently.
Its owner (no longer an Aketman) wanted to retire and nobody wanted to buy the business. There were simply not enough customers.
Seaton has another similar emporium, but it is out of the ton centre and parking is often impossible!

Disappointingly, Abbotts shop is tidy and well organised; so probably more efficient for the seasoned user of mongered iron but less enjoyable for the wide-eyed btowser!

M & S Much Smaller

Once upon a time Marks and Spencer, which began as a “penny bazaar” in Leeds …

… was once the envy of the retail trade. But the great M & S has been going through tough times of late with boss man Stuart Machin …

… overseeing a plan for multiple store closures.

But young Stu seems to be getting a result!

The numbers certainly look better …

Commentators are suggesting that reducing prices, improving the product range and improving the service by upgrading shops have all contributed yo this improvement. But we need to bear in mind that the “improvement” is notably for M & S shareholders and can be seen as achieved to the detriment of many of its loyal customers whose stores are closed or closing.

Bus Travel is a retail business.
Its aim is to sell a product (bus rides) to its customers in order to make a profit for its shareholders.
It is no different from M&S!
To copy M & S, the bus company can reduce its fares. That’s what James Freeman …
… did in Bristol leading to dramatic increases in patronage. 
But there have been no great claims of long term success for an experimental scheme in Wales.

Likewise the delights of the one third reduction in Cornwall ticket prices seems to be fairly minor in terms of increased patronage.

And fares have recently been “revised” …
… upwards, naturally.

Obviously there will be no increase in the flat single fare until the end of 2024, but “seasons” are creeping up. Is that a desperate attempt to recoup some of the losses from the funding of the flat fare?

And what happens when the flat fare deal ends.


Bus companies usually seem willing to put better quality vehicles on their busy (and already profitable) routes …

… but Zip’s failure led to luxury appearing on the X97/X98, hardly a money spinner but the buses had to be employed somewhere.

Often these branding schemes evaoporate; as with Arriva’s Sapphire and Max in many locations.
We have seen that Daventry lost its branded “Darts” over recent years and now the residents get anything with a wheel at each corner to enhance their reduced “improved” service.
Many operators seem pathologically incapable of putting branded buses on to the correct branded routes.
McGills appear to be doing better than most …

… and, apart from their failure in West Lothian, the company is pushing hard to improve the product and thus attract more passengers.

Generally, however, minor routes are equipped with hand-me-downs! And it is obvious!
Ray Stenning (The Bearded Bus Beautifier from the Bush) is always vociferous about the need for quality all round. If the company cannot afford to beatify their buses with a full repaint on secondary routes, they can do a lot with a splodge of sticky-backed plastic!
The bus industry has used Covid as an excuse to close its shops, as here in Plymouth.

A smaller equivalent of a bus shop is a bus stop. These are fearfully neglected by bus operators hiding behind “that’s the job of the local authority“.

A press release from Stuart Machin of M & S???
“From January 2024, and to save costs, we will be handing all M & S local publicity to the local authority in the area where the shop sits. The LA will manage all external bill-boards on or near our shops and provide appropriate advertising in the local press. The people live locally, so the local authority is the ideal organisation to continue M & S promotion schemes.”

Even when they do advertise themselves locally, the results are often pitiful from the bus companies. Compare Arriva …

… with McGills!

And fbb will restrain his venom on the subject of printed material. But generally it is badly done, if at all.

Will we ever see bus adverts of this quality?

Probably never – but printed material is cheap! 

Even “it’s all on line” Stagecoach have managed an excellent leaflet for the 65 between Sheffield and Buxton.

It has an excellent map plus good stuff about places to go?

But, oh deary deary me, none of it appears on the company web site!

With very few exceptions, bus operators simply do not make even a feeble attempt to SELL their product.

But then  …

it’s all on line

… as we shall see tomorrow; bus companies web sites versus M & S web site.

 Next Retailing Failing blog : Friday 10th Nov 
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