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Fiends in Waistcoats Copyright 2012-2014 Robert Audin all rights reserved
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kirby Down but Not Out at Games Workshop



Now I don’t normally blog about news issues here but the turmoil in the halls of power in the Evil Empire effects all of us in the wargaming community whether we want to admit it or not. Mr. Tom Kriby has been forced out of the CEO position but he is still Chairman of the Board so most likely brutal infighting will occupy the halls of power at Notingham for some time to come. Here is a link to the GW annual report.

Here are my personal thoughts on Kriby’s preamble note passages in italics are direct quotes from the preamble.

“CHAIRMAN’S PREAMBLE
Games Workshop has had a really good year.
If your measure of 'good' is the current financial year's numbers, you may not agree. But if your measure is the long-term survivability of a great cash generating business that still has a lot of potential growth, then you will agree.”
No company has a good year when they lose one fourth of their value. This is why he’s not CEO anymore but he refuses to accept it.

“Having taken on the conversion of our stores to a one man format with all the concomitant complexity of staff changes and new sites and new lease negotiations – a long job not quite finished – we decided to re-arrange the management of our sales channels from a country-based system to a central one. This meant removing four European headquarters, consolidating all trade (third party) sales personnel at our Nottingham base, creating a new continental European grouping of our retail stores, and recruiting new management for these divisions whilst flattening the structure by removing all middle management. At the same time we changed leadership of our retail chain in the North American area, and gave birth to our new web store after many months’ labour.”  Looking beyond the megalomaniacal even fetish like need to try and control a world wide retail company from one location this illustrates that Mr. Kirby has no idea what sort of business he’s in. Let me start by stating that even if Mr. Kirby understood wargming and had good business sense GW would lose market share. Why because GW gained it’s preeminence prior to the rise of the internet. In the 90’s the majority of Sci-fi and fantasy wargamers in the West played one of GW’s core games that's no longer the case now that smaller companies can reach gamers through the internet. Now here’s why Mr. Kirby doesn’t have a clue, GW made the most profit in its history during the mid 2000’s with their LOTR Strategy Battle Game they did this even though internet gaming stores were well established by this time, they did this by bringing in an entirely new group of people excited by the LOTR films through their fleet of very visible high street stores. No other company could have done that and now thanks to Mr. Kirby’s reorganization GW can’t ever do it again. His one man store model will never bring in anywhere near the numbers of new people to GW as the high street model did. What’s worse his naïve belief that the internet will increase GW sales the last thing GW should want is gamers shopping on the internet. On the internet gamers are confronted with a cornucopia of games with prettier models, more interesting rules and cheaper prices. That doesn't help GW's bottom line.

“In the technological world we occupy there is constant debate over who 'innovates' and who merely copies. We have, this last year, spent an indecent amount of your money trying to stop someone stealing our ideas and images. It is a very difficult thing to do when it is done through a legal system designed to prevent people stealing hogs from one another. Our experience has probably been typical of most – far too much money spent on far too little gain. The argument is that we have to do this or we will, bit by bit, lose everything that we hold dear, everything that keeps the business going.” I read this as the board feels he’s spending too much on lawyers. The 0.3 million reduction in legal costs cited in the year end reports suggests to me the tide of IP lawsuits is beginning to recede.

“Because no one seems able to grasp the essential simplicity of what we do there has always been the search for the Achilles heel, the one thing that Kirby and his cronies have overlooked. These are legion.” Actually Mr. Kirby seems incapable of understanding the simplicity of Games Workshop it’s a company that makes games people want to play and miniatures people want or can afford to buy. Interest in GW's core games has been dropping for some time now and a large segment of people who would like to purchase GW miniatures feel they can’t afford them anymore. 

Sorry I had to get that off my chest.