Talkback: George White goes into administration

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Talkback: George White goes into administration

Such a shame, sad to here that, I bought my ZX6R from them great service and one of the only bike shops to do real discounts on good kit.

I doubt very much this is the last we'll see of George White....

About time shit customer service even after buying 5 bikes

5 Bikes? Blimey didn't you learn after bike #2 at least? :)

Feel sorry for the staff,they had some genuine guys

Rapid expansion in a contracting market was extremely optimistic. Hopefully something can be rescued though. They aren't like Carnells were.

At last, how many genuine bike shops have gone to the wall at the expense of g/w under selling their products for no profit to just make a huge loss. I am very sorry for their staff but this is truly a great day for the rest of the bike trade,

Bike supermarkets are bad for all aspects of biking except original purchace price. I agree with Jon Terry, small caring local dedicated dealers are better every day, what about all the employees of the small shops forced to close by the latest stack em high dealer, remember City etc. A few get cheap bikes and poor service and a few get rich but generally the industry suffers.

Writing on the wall for a long time, everyone can offer discount if you dont pay for the goods in the first place. the backlash to this will be how it damages the suppliers, again. Frank Thomas Group , and Motrax went down owing 16million. GW is going to be huge, Sorry for the staff , but good news for independant bike shops struggling against his pile it high and sell it cheap policy. Good Ridance......

I'd agree with Tim there Mr Walker. Surely after the 2nd bike you'd have learnt. More fool you imo...

Damn. I did wonder how they sold at such low prices though.


I bought a honda. On sunday . Was expecting it delivered today. Not sure whats happening with that! Gutted

George White turned over 25m and lost a fair amount of money in doing so, in fact they had been losing money for some time. In any other business that level of turnover would be expected to provide a half decent profit otherwise why bother to open the doors. Unfortunately this is the reality of selling motorcycles, at there is a tiny profit margin on the full retail price and virtually zero on the discounted margins they operated on so their demise was a matter of when not if. An independant dealer who loved motorcycles might see it as a worthwhile enjoyable business to be in,however he or she would probably earn more as a plumber in truth. Customers want the best possible levels of aftercare and service and rightly so, yet unlike the car business it's expected to be at a low hourly rate so it's £ hardly worth investing in a decent workshop. Investing a large sum of money in the hope of earning a few pounds does not make any sense, and expecting that any of the major brands would be loyal to their hardworking dealers would be a mistake. I knew a Suzuki dealer who had been loyal to the brand for over 20 years - George White opened in Oxford, supplied by Suzuki despite them knowing it would wreck the existing dealers business overnight,then a few months later GW decided to close the new outlet down as, guess what.. it wasn't making any money. Perrys know how to sell cars at low prices, very used to tight margins so they dipped their toes in the bike business and opened a new Honda dealership, 18 months later and a quarter of a million pounds poorer they shut the business down.

I know of 4 independant dealers who have recently closed, couldn't wait to get out of the business, wished they'd done it a few years ago - a radical change in the motorcycle business is needed otherwise there won't be any decent dealers left.

Really sorry to here that, bought a bike from Swindon and they were really great , pat was the name of the salesman couldn't do enough to help. Been back a few times since and to the launch down south, best of luck to all the guys and gals who lost their jobs

It's a shame for the industry as a whole and i feel sorry for those that lost their jobs but personally i'm not a fan of these big multiple manufacturer dealerships. The bigger they get the customer service always suffers, sure I could have got a better deal on my last bike, and I was offered one, but for me i would always choose to pay that little bit more to buy from my local dealer The whole "stack em high, sell em cheap" thing can work but I think you have to run the business like a cash and carry warehouse operation with no fancy trimmings to make money at it. But the thing is people expected the discounted bikes but also expected the aftersales, customer service, the swanky showroom, coffee shop, retail outlet, at that all costs money, far more if your running a country wide fleet of dealerships. All I can hope for is that smaller one or two manufacturer dealerships will spring up out of this?

As for those who have just bought bikes, I read there are a skeleton staff crew still employed to complete outstanding orders etc so I suggest you try calling the Swindon head office?

As a long time motorcycle shop owner and ex sales representitive for a few major brands im happy!!!!

WHY?? Because when the motorcycle industry starts selling its self short and retail outlets start selling equipment for less than the "cost" price its only going to end one way!! Sadly GW hasnt just closed its self down but its taken many many other shops with it....

Has your local dealer or dealers closed in the last few years???? It was more than likely that GW was to blame... Blunt but very true... We all want value for money in our equipment but the stack it high sell it cheap approach doesnt work in our world, just look at how poor the quality is with such brands as say Alpinestars they are a shadow of there forma self as everything is now made to a budget.. Normally LOW !!!

I guess Ben Cope won't be getting his 848 race prep'ed at George Whites this year then?

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i paid for a ern6 on wed teatime at the swindon branch tryed to speak with someone but no luck. hope somebody will sort something out tommoz.i was contacted on wed morn by danny but was at work and rang back later that day were he quite happiley took the outstanding balance out of my bank account. you cant tell me he didnt know something was going on then .thanks mate!

It it shame that this large employer closed down as roles in the bike trade few and far between. I have worked in "the trade", for Carnells and then an indepedent

The Carnell method proved that this business model does not work. When there we could buy new bikes at full cost price. This included the bike, putting it through the workshop, fuel, tax, PDI etc. A ZX6R 636 worked out at around £5500, pretty good for a brand new bike (with no mark up,no profit), then a few days latter we had a meeting with branch manager saying that new ZX6r would be retailed for £4999OTR at least a net loss of £500 per bike. On the first saturday we sold out, over 15 bikes -£7500. times that by 10 shops -£75000 IN ONE DAY. We new that the compnany would get reg and sales bonus from Kawasaki but to take such a huge hit I could see that I was doomed.

The Honda dealer did it properly, made good margins on their bikes and would not sell bikes for no money, it was pointless.

I remember George Whites when he actually ran the business in Manchester Road, Swindon. Bikes jammed in with good customer care and personal service. What looks to have happened is someone had taken over the business with not really knowing how to run a good personal care that bikers were used to.
We all get carried away with discount and bargains but sometimes at a cost to the smaller businesses and quality.
It is sad to see that some people who have just bought bikes etc may never see them.G
I got to see the old staff on a regular basis and it is sad to see these people losing their jobs in the current climate.
Perhaps a case of a business growing to big for its own good.
How many more will go?

If all dealers were required to sell new motorcycles at the manufacturer's price, as is the case with Triumph, we wouldn't see any cut-price traders like Whites (and Motorcycle City - remember them?) who simply ruin the business for everyone else.

George White was said to be making almost nothing on the sale of a new bike, relying on the manufaturer's bonus for reaching a sales target and any extras, like leathers and helmets, to make a profit. As soon as the market began to shrink they were struggling.

In the long run nobody is a winner here, certainly not the customer who suffers shoddy after-sales, sees the demise of all the smaller bike shops and is then left with nothing, nor the staff who's jobs are lost, not to mention all the creditors of George White who are left with money owing and no chance of payment..

well i really hope it is the last we see of them and we have a return to small dealers that really care and are for motorcyclists with great service and aftercare not massive shops without a care for anything but profit...small is goes to show....

Sad day. Good idea, keep the prices low and sell more. Shame about the comments above from the poor independant dealers who wouldn't match the prices and are glad the opposition is gone. RRP is only 150% above wholesale prices, the normal biker (like me) who wants value for money and not to be ripped off by greedy independants will suffer once again. I blame the motorcycle press, who at the back of many magazines put the riders kit and bike blurb. Pair of gloves £150.00, winter gear, summer outfit, spring spanglies, autumn warmers, baselayers, helmets £350.00 jackets, 250.00, boots £200.00, when the average annual income isn't the sort of figures one needs to beearning to play their games. what's worse this ha
s been going on like this for a long time, let alone poor mpg figures for bikes and horrendous tyre costs. The industry needs a shake up to encourage value for money for the masses and not the fat bank accounts of the poor shop keepers (my heart bleeds for you.. not). Tough luck George White. Come back again, and hammer the industry, take the best you've learned to date and get the Chinese to make them for you, and hurry back

Phil Carless

You obviously don't have a clue about the retail margins in a dealers you are living in cloud cookoo land if you think the mark up is 150% i work for a dealers and they margins are not even close to this figure it's people like you that will kill the biking industry.

People like me? Cloud cuckoo land? Touchy touchy Davie Rsv4r. Grow up lad you daren't even use your own name on here, stand up and be counted if you have an opinion, not behind the name of you crotch rocket. Know anything about economics? Economies of scale etc? Read a book boy. Margins are tight because of the huge wages paid to those who work in non-essential services within the motorcycle industry, not the mechanics and the receptionists obviously, but the pletherer of salespeople within the dealerships, who are the vampires of the industry, sucking it dry of funds.  

You are talking about dealer margins not world economics, and what i am saying is they are nowhere near 150%. I see it every day guy's coming into the shop saying they can get this and that cheaper on ebay or wherever.

Where will you be when all the local dealers who are getting by and no more are all gone. And margins on the new bikes are just a joke so don't give me it's the dealers bleeding you dry ,the prices are set by the manufacturers, and george white is a prime example that you can't survive selling at such a low price and like other people have said how many dealer have gone to the wall cause of them. Sad for all the people that have lost their job but good for the industry on a whole.

And do you work in the motorcycle industry boy, how do you know what wages are paid to what ever yuou consider to be non essential services.

I don't want to have an argument all am i saying is with regard to what you said about dealer margins you are talking shit.

If I was to measure the depth of feeling you obviously feel about my earlier comments, I would say you are all worked up over margins, so why the cloud cuckoo land people like me derisory comments then?

Firstly,I don't believe your rhetoric, as I work in retail. I think basically you don't know what you are talking about and obviously are not involved in the whole purchasing to sales process, 150% mark up is not a missnoma, especially on clothing.

Secondly, to keep the peace, I must be talking shit as you say. Thank you for enlightening me. I bow to your obvious superior knowledge. However I suggest you refrain from being such a bully, and go and learn something about management and written communication.
Opinions are what rules the world, yours are limited I think.
So there there Davie, grow up. Perhaps by starting to call yourself by a grown up name, like David, or Dave. Davie is the girls nickname for David. You are being a numpty, when the real issue is the plight of George White.

Yes, Mr Carless is not talking sense and clearly knows nothing about the margins on a new motorcycle or the bike trade. This is what mainly caused the problem; not the margins on clothing, although they were selling leathers etc. at a cheaper price than most other shops could acquire them for.

When a "George White" comes along and begins to sell a high volume of new bikes virtually at cost, getting his income from the manufacturer's bonus for reaching a sales target, it doesn't matter what the margin was because a small dealer selling a few bikes cannot compete. So he inevitably goes out of business and when the market contracts, as it has now, the big dealer can no longer meet his targets and he goes bust too.

I can't see how that kind of trading, which Mr Carless supports, is good for motorcycling, motorcyclists or the people who work in the industry. Having a rant at another forum member and getting personal does him no credit.

Mr carless is clearly an idiot, he talks about growing up then has a childish comment like i have a girls name. We are talking about the margins a motorcycle dealer has which i know about as i have been working in the trade for the last ten years. I don't know what margins are in other parts of retail as i don't and have not worked in this area.

Mr Clegg, the George White model of operation encourages competition between the operators in the industry. This is ultimately the driving force of capitalism. the customer benefits from this, because they have more money to spend on ancilliary items, and if cheap enough will encourage the younger generation to take up the challenges of motorcycling as opposed to just cars. The influx and growth/acceptance of non-Japanese eastern motorcycles is testament to this. The manufacturers hold the dealers to quota, the dealers need to buy and sell to match, with all the other costs on top it is tough to get everything right. The small dealer (of which I buy most of my bike requirements from locally, (except one or two items from Ebay, such as a new wheel), is running a business. Business is a risky venture and battered by market forces. If the problem as you suggest is the wholesale price of the new products, there can only be a few options to a dealer, get the manufacturer to adjust their price, change supplier, brand, buy Chinese, build the used part of the business, support the business with the sale of ancilliaries, cut the workforce, add brands to provide a bigger choice to the customer, add other sales lines workshop based, customising, race support or dyno facilities. it is a difficult choice, but my opinion still stands, the customer ends up paying more when the likes of a 'George white' leaves the market place. if it is not what you want to hear, then it's a shame, margins are tight all over, not just within the motorcycling industry. In your opinion i don't know what i am talking about, ok, that's your opinion, I take it on board. i dissagree, i think I understand the issues very well, and there are a few ideas above to consider how to ensure the customer is the focus of the business model used, without flinging mud at the sad news of George White, me, you or Davie.

This situation might be the "driving force of capitalism" but that doesn't mean we have to like it when a large dealer mops up all the trade, drives competitors out of the market-place and then goes bust, leaving a void, redundancies, a mountain of debt and nowhere for the customer to go. I would describe it as the unacceptable face of capitalism. That's why I mentioned above that the maintenance of retail prices, as in Triumph showrooms, could be a good thing. Certainly it's better to have some stability than the devil-take-the-hindmost cut-throat model we have here with GW.

Personally I would rather pay a premium to a smaller local company, keeping my money in the local economy as well as ensuring that I DO still have a local showroom to visit where I can look at bikes, get a coffee and meet friends. This applies to all aspects of life, not just motorcycles. God forbid that we all live in dead, dormitory towns with no shops and no life, doing our shopping online or giving our business to a few large predatory retailers. I think the motorcycle manufacturers' UK distribution companies are partly to blame for the current situation, putting short term gain ahead of long term stability, customer satisfaction and a strong dealer network.

Phil Carless,
Please stop posting your nonsense, you are clearly a complete moron with no grasp on how a large dealer like george whites was operating and the circumstances leading to their administration...

Phil Carless,

You talk utter drivel and are no doubt a self opinionated bore.

Phil Carless you have went from say our margins are 150% mark up to them being tight make up your mind.

Phil Carless is symptomatic of the consumer who knows the value of price, but not the price of value.  In fact he probably wouldn't recognise 'value' if you dressed it up as a kipper and slapped him across the face with it.150% margin on motorcycles!  LOL!!!The margin on some clothing/accessories etc may well approach that level just as in other area's of clothing and other consumer goods, but it stands to reason that for a market that is relatively small as in motorcycle clothing it would have to be that to justify buying the stock and sitting on it for months until it sells.  In any case, purchases such as these are long term ones and I'd rather spend £300 on a protective jacket, or helmet that will actually earn it's money than on a pair of 'fashionable' denims.

With the exception of not going bust the scenario played out in this cases is mirrored identically by another retail sector very close to my heart, that of general food retail.

Enormous retailers holding almost the entire market between them and ruthlessly battering suppliers and competitors out of the market place with loss leading price cuts, land grabs, supplier funded promotions etc etc.

Yes, I'm talking as a village shop owner and independent food and drink retailer, listening nearly every day to people like Mr Carless who believe that buying all their groceries in a supermarket then moaning to me about my prices is good fun and that I must have pots of money because I run a business.

When my gross margin hits 33% (150% markup) then I'll be a very happy bunny, never mind my net margin. Does he not think that the independent motorcycle retailers might therefore view the loss of a major competitor as a chance to even the balance a little, as I would?

Phil, I'm guessing you don't and have never worked in the motorcycle trade.... Sadly despite your obvious understanding of capitalism and market forces you dont have a clue what's going on in our world... I hope you join Goerge Whites and disappear too as we dont need or tolerate fools

As value is a subjective term and kippers and slapping faces is all you can come up with then Chizzle don't bother.Charles, as you know nothing of my shopping habits, I wouldn't moan to you about your prices, I wouldn't shop there. as you both have personalised the issues of price, then it must burn like mad when you have a sale and everyone goes looking for the bargains. That in itself supports my pricing comments. As far as 150% mark up is concerned, it may not be on motorcycles themselves, (see my earlier comment about clothing), but agreed that clothing can make that margin. So, what's your argument? Yes I am a consumer. value for money equates to what I wish to pay for goods, and as it is my money I still say it is a sad day the George Whites is having trouble as I will have one less place to visit when I want some new gear for my wife. My kids have all shopped at George Whites and got some very good clothing at reduced rates. I will now shop at Ghostbikes and any other company who puts my needs first when attracting my money. Just because a good is termed cheap, does not mean it does not suffice and is not fit for purpose. I think you argue that I believe value is measured in money, this is not the case. George White's had good knowledgable staff, were curtious, the places were clean, and they were selling goods at a reduced rate., So as a consumer, I think I have a point. I reiterate I am saddenned by the negative views expressed earlier, not only to myself, but also the bandwagon roll of bad feeling to a company I believe was trying to attract customers and give them better options to buy. Stil. you can't please all the people all the time. 

As value is a subjective term and kippers and slapping faces is all you can come up with then Chizzle don't bother.Charles, as you know nothing of my shopping habits, I wouldn't moan to you about your prices, I wouldn't shop there. as you both have personalised the issues of price, then it must burn like mad when you have a sale and everyone goes looking for the bargains. That in itself supports my pricing comments. As far as 150% mark up is concerned, it may not be on motorcycles themselves, (see my earlier comment about clothing), but agreed that clothing can make that margin. So, what's your argument? Yes I am a consumer. value for money equates to what I wish to pay for goods, and as it is my money I still say it is a sad day the George Whites is having trouble as I will have one less place to visit when I want some new gear for my wife. My kids have all shopped at George Whites and got some very good clothing at reduced rates. I will now shop at Ghostbikes and any other company who puts my needs first when attracting my money. Just because a good is termed cheap, does not mean it does not suffice and is not fit for purpose. I think you argue that I believe value is measured in money, this is not the case. George White's had good knowledgable staff, were curtious, the places were clean, and they were selling goods at a reduced rate., So as a consumer, I think I have a point. I reiterate I am saddenned by the negative views expressed earlier, not only to myself, but also the bandwagon roll of bad feeling to a company I believe was trying to attract customers and give them better options to buy. Still. you can't please all the people all the time. 

Doesn't surprise me.
I went in a year ago to buy a new bike but after being ignored by "Salesmen" I walked out. It wasn't as if they were serving other customers, just doing admin on the computer. I even said I was interested in a GSXR and got little more than a grunt and a finger pointed towards them. Had similar treatment on other occasions, was beginning to think it was me. I know of another, similar but smaller dealer living off a franchise with little competition.

The mechanics seemed helpful at my branch of George White though.

Oh come on Phil, surely you can do better than that!!And if you hadn't noticed George Whites may have led you to believe they put your needs first, but they are 'no more' to service those needs.  Fact: Cheap does not = value.  It means cheap, and something will have to give - in this case they cannot honour their Guarantees or Warranties to you (or anyone else) as the supplier of the goods.  There is no-one to answer your calls for help any longer!And as someone who runs a vehicle leasing company I see cheap deals come across my desk every day - punters such as yourself will sign up for those deals because they don't know any better and only see a price and think 'Value!'.  They will brag about it down the pub, about how wise they are in sniffing out such a great deal (when any idiot could have done it). But they will pay for it eventually, and I know exactly how, when and where they will be caught.  I tell them, but they don't listen.  I let them go and find out for themselves.  And I bet they won't be bragging about that down the pub, but I know they'll be calling someone all the bastards under the sun because thay have been suckered, and all because they didn't understand the meaning of value, or the basis of simple mathematics.Listen matey, if you are happy paying your cheap prices for stuff knocked up in some sweat shop in India by kids then that's your choice ... personally I'll continue to check the label and all the other information that is supplied with the product.

Ultimately those of you who want to beieve that my opinions are "drivel" and I should just dissapear, are in fact extremely childish, so go play with your teddy and leave the groewn ups to have a discussion. I take on board your thoughts on value, although from my perspective value is still a subjective concept. Ultimately the industry exists due to customers who spend money on goods. and when all is said and done, I am a customer and spend most of my money in a local bike shop, because it is loacl and the staff are great.As far as cheap goods are concerned, motorbike jeans were £70.00 in George whites, the same jeans in the local shop £110.00, £40.00 difference. my argument still stands.  

Top trolling Mr Carless, top trolling.

George white also sold a lot of bikes nationally because of the cheap prices and because of this never had the follow-up service work which often keeps dealers going. I have a local dealer than will not try and compete with the George Whites of the world because they wouldn't survive if they did. They have quite a captive customer base in some ways and I think most of their profits on actual bikes come from 125s and scooters. When I was in the motor trade (cars) they would discount vehicles to cost price on the hope they got three years or more servicing from the customer and their sales bonus for hitting targets from the manufacturer so George White were never going to survive without the service work from a lot of the bikes they sold. The weak pound has created mad prices for new bikes in the UK and so that would have also had an effect due to bike sales falling. They don't make 150% on a new bike, they actual make more on used bikes, as for kit they also gave a lot away with their crazy deals so it was a bit of a game of Zenga for them in the end, it all came tumbling down.

The thing I find slightly ironic is reading the comments on here, MCN and others like:
"I'm really gutted they're gone", "I can't believe it", "it's a really sad day" and then they go on to say "I got a really good deal on my last bike", "£2000 off list price", "£000's of pounds worth of extras thrown in", "5,4,3,2,1 deal", "good clothing at reduced rates"

Now I never went to GW and so correct me if i'm wrong, if they applied those sorts of deals and discounts to their products before they even opened the doors then thats their own stupid fault, but if those mentioned above went in there haggling those deals then its a bit rich to be bemoaning their loss afterwards.

I'm staggered at the number of people who don't understand simple economics. As an Accountant I can't really fault Phil Careless. If people are annoyed that small businesses are taking a battering I'd argue that the Lloyd Cooper small business model seems to be working very well, so I'm not sure how the George White's of this world are so catastrophic for the market. Also, bikers are notoriously territorial and generally only travel outside of their 'zones' for the purchase of accessories and second hand vehicles. New bikes tend to be purchased locally. The simple truth is, that if George White couldn't sell enough discounted bikes to attract more trade, then new bike prices are still at an unsustainable high. Many bikes are over or near the £10k mark(!). Most bikes (new or otherwise) are second vehicles. Most new bikes are expensive to insure. Depreciation is horrendous, not helped by the fact bikers seem to believe bikes won't last beyond 10,000 miles. The state of the motorcycle test hasn't helped. The market is changing. Less people have money for toys. These are, therefore, not commodities that fly off the shelf, discounted or otherwise.
How small businesses that have to sell bikes more expensively will help I don't know, but good luck and good riddance to your investment capital if you're thinking of setting one up. Margins are also irrelevant if you aren't selling volume, and every time I went into George White (twice ever) it seemed fairly quiet.

Comparing George White to Tesco's is just plain fucking stupid.
Bottom line is some bikers on here don't half talk some shit.

Tesco undercuts competitors and grows strong. George White does the same and dies. God help me for suggesting the biking market is shrinking or just not as profitable as it used to be.

The bike market is changing. Buyers are tacitly demanding change. Adventure bike sales are now starting to outstrip sports. A certain well known national bike newspaper has started to see it's letters page fill up with bikers demanding diesel engines for their bikes(!)...makes sense when you weigh the relative engine stats up - torque/fuel economy etc.

The fact of the matter is that the bike market has to change, something has to give because new bikes aren't selling and small businesses won't help. The *type* of bike the market sells *may* change that, but is there, for instance, any desire to produce a diesel commuting bike? Nope. How about a 1000cc without expensive electronics? Nope.

I just shudder when I see the folly of the bike manufacturers. It's like someone's quietly reading the last rites to the bike market. I'm off to listen to some death metal to cheer me up ;-)

.... and a very bad day for the customer!

And so many people going on about the 'small independent dealer' and their 'excellent customer service'! Well all I can say is there aren't any in Newcastle. The main dealer here is M&S/Kens who are absolutely *****! THey charge an arm and a leg for parts and their service is useless, replacing parts that dont need to be changed and not replacing the ones that do!

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