19 August 2013

Filofax News Update


The UK retail environment has been getting tougher and tougher in the last few years. The landscape in the typical UK High Street has had almost unthinkable changes in the last few years, no longer will you find FW Woolworths, Jessops (apart from a few profitable locations), HMV have downsized, Comet, Past Times, Habitat, the list continues to grow.

Some of the reasons for these changes come down to competition from on-line retailers, and higher and higher rents on shops, also competition from out of town retail parks where often shoppers don't pay for parking.

Bosses in this new retail environment have to make sometimes quick decisions if they are going to save their companies from impending doom and not allow their high street retail arm to drain their companies of capital reserves as they strive to have a presence on the high street.

So it was not a total surprise to hear this last week that Filofax are sadly going to close their Conduit Street store. The store has been part of the landscape for 20 - 30 years, may be longer. But all around it now are shops selling items of far higher selling prices than your humble Filofax organiser, this has driven up rents in the area to a level that Filofax are no longer able to sustain. In the case of Filofax they  faced a 30% rent increase last year.

It's too early to say, but Filofax might have another shop in the future, but in a less costly location.  In the mean time Filofax will be holding a closing down sale and shutting up shop within the next two weeks. You will of course continue to see Filofax organisers and inserts at other retail outlets such as WH Smiths, Rymans and Staples to name just a few.

The Philofaxy event at the shop in late September has gone through a very quick rearrangement and I'm very pleased with Filofax for responding so quickly and co-operating with us to still have an event on the same day... details of which are still being finalised.

On another positive note the Filofax website rebuild is getting closer to being finished with testing of the full site commencing this week. Details of the launch date for the new site will be announced on Philofaxy when the project is signed off and ready to go live.

And here are some recent photos of the Conduit Street store, thank you to Dee for sending these in.











33 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear this Steve. What lovely service I have received in that shop. It was always full of tourists buying Filofaxes in bulk due to lower prices in the UK. I was sad to see the Filofax shop in Covent Garden also closed a while ago.

    The demise of bricks and mortar is so sad but hopefully they will have a larger web presence in years to come. If the wonderful staff in Conduit street are reading this I wanted to say thank you and I am going to miss you!

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  2. It's a shame; the Filofax is a product which is tactile and should, ideally, be held in the hand prior to purchase. I try to buy my organizers and inserts at local retailers or direct from the manufacturer via mail order to hopefully prevent such closures. I just noticed that DayTimer has consolidated it's customer service and mail order departments with other ACCO brands in New York. Presumably this means that the wonderful staff at the Pennsylvania office has been sacked or has been forced to move. Sad times. The consolidation of retail into only high-end merchandise is most notable in Manhattan, where there were once many interesting shops and now it's block after block of high end apparel and accessories which I find quite boring.

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  3. Very sad news! Not only for the customers, but also for the very lovely staff I have always met there.
    I hope there is a chance to keep the shop running in another place with all the helpful people. I would surely miss not visiting a real Filofax store when being in London...

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  4. Of course Filofax will put their best spin on bad news, but the reality is that there were, until recently, three stockists of the full range of Filofax products in London (City Organiser and the two Filofax shops). All will have now closed.

    Yes, WH Smith! Staples etc. are stockists - usually of a very limited range and staff with zero product knowledge. Of all the hundreds of current leather Filofaxes (by size and colour) my local WH Smith currently has four on display - four empty boxes to be precise. "Please ask for assistance".

    Internet shopping is great, and the only viable way for some in remote parts. However, many of us will be guilty of spending ages in a warm, well lit shop, browsing and handling, only to then go home and order online. Either because its slightly cheaper (Internet shops don't have big rents,rates and staff costs) or because we want a pristine model, rather than one that had been handled by people like us! UK High Streets will become little more than Tesco, Costa and a clutch of charity shops. Sadly, many are there already

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    1. Blame me for the spin Tim, I wrote this one not Filofax.

      The Pen Shop still has outlets in London and when I've visited them they have had a very good range of Filofax products. The staff at their Stansted concession are very knowledgeable and remember me each time I visit!

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    2. I could not agree more with you, Tim! We've seen this in German cities as well. And people who complain most about the closing of "high class" shops are the ones who never bought there!!! :-(

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  5. It's sad as I haven't had time to visit the shop yet but our own personal feelings are nothing compared to what's just happened to the staff - losing one's job at any time is devastating but particular now. My thoughts are entirely with the staff of the Conduit Street shop. I do hope they find another job really really soon.

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  6. very very sad news ... I have lovely memories of all the filo/lefax shops when I lived in London. Stationery and high end planners NEED to be seen and touched (and stroked and smelled!) this is a disastrous retail trend ... 99p stores abound ... empty shelves in WH Smith ... 1 dusty filo metropol in Ryman ... *sigh

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  7. How sad. However I am in london next week and will attempt to take advantage. Does anyone have example of the discounts

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  8. Gosh, how very sad! I feel so sorry for the staff facing redundancy, a horrid sign of the times. My best wishes to all of them.

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  9. Very sad to read this. I've bought most of my Filofaxes from Conduit Street and always enjoyed visiting the store. I've never liked buying online, but it looks like I'll have to now. First Neal Street, then City Organiser, I suppose this was inevitable. What a shame that London won't have anywhere with a decent range of Filofax products any more. But our thoughts must be with the staff of the shop, who are always so helpful, and my best wishes go out to them.

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  10. What very sad news....W H Smith as the major supplier of Filofaxes, just about as much use as Enzo Ferrari is to banger racing. Staples even worse - if you're even prepared to travel out of town to a soulless, barren industrial estate to go shopping in a shed.

    Ryman, however, have a few decent stores (yes I *know they're the same people as Staples) - occasionally decent locations, occasionally helpful staff, overstocked but at least you can find the products you want, unlike WHS, which looks more and more like a chain waiting to go out of business.

    Just exactly how do FF and all the other companies making these decisions expect people who are not, or who choose not to be, connected to the global control matrix which is the internet, to do their shopping? Presumably by calling a premium rate number buried away on their website (doh), speaking to a robot and getting referred to an offshore call centre. I despair......as someone running a small business offering a personal service, I hope all these businesses get what they deserve. I too wish the staff all the best and hope they find alternative employment quickly.

    Is this tied up with the new US connection at all?

    Do we even have any idea whether the new website, if it ever appears, is going to work in a satisfactory way? Wouldn't it have been good business sense to get the new site launched, tested and running smoothly (not to mention getting the approval of their customer base) before withdrawing the one alternative (and for many preferable) route to market? The end may finally be in sight for FF in the UK......

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    1. I'm testing the new Filofax website as I type this... I started this morning. Testing will go on all week across a range of browsers, operating systems, devices etc.

      I can't say much more than that at the moment.

      There are other retailers around the country that may be don't have stores on every High Street that offer similar service and range to the ones we have lost in London. I will canvas for people experiences in the coming weeks so we can draw up a list of these recommended suppliers and publish the results here on Philofaxy.

      Steve

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    2. Steve, that's a great idea. If FF won't do it for us we'll have to do it for ourselves, I guess. Sadly there are no known *decent* FF retailers in the South West that I know of.........

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  11. I can understand the Conduit Shop closing as it is in a very expensive part of London - still don't understand why they chose to close Neal Street - the lower overheads would have been more tenable in the current climate. In my experience the other high street names carry a very poor selection of products.

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  12. I just heard of a stationery store here in NY (not Sam Flax) who was a Filofax "Gold" level retailer and they are closing this week! Can't believe it - they were so accommodating in ordering and giving personal service, etc. So sad for the people whoa re losing their jobs, too.

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    Replies
    1. This is explains why it had only 2-3 Filofaxes when I went last month and a rather indifferent staff. Sad to hear that. I liked Jason's Office Products for its service though and it had a decent selection for a "Silver Account".

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    2. It's a place called Ropal Stationery on 2nd Avenue - sad...

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  13. What sad news & my thoughts are with the staff who will be losing their jobs.
    I can fully understand this as when I was growing up my parents owned a restaurant, but eventually couldn't cope with the rising rent costs. It is a shame as I much prefer being able to handle such a tactile object as a Filofax before making my mind up. The display at my local WH Smith always look quite unloved & I've seen very few other customers browsing there.

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  14. That is such sad news. I suppose I am part of the problem with all my on-line shopping. All these stores going to the wayside. We are slowly becoming a world of big box stores only. I used to love all the boutique shopping I did with my mom in the 80's, almost all our favorite stores are now gone. I wish the employees of the Conduit store a quick and successful job hunt!

    That's great they are updating the website! Will it just be the UK site or others (*cough* USA) as well?

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  15. Incredibly sad to read this. Now that I am in the UK, do they all close? First, it was City Organizer, I didn't even get the chance to post an order online anymore, even less going to their shop and now it's Filofax.
    I hope, however, that Filofax will open another store in London in the near future. Maybe they can find an area with lower rents.
    It's a shame, that there are less and less small shops around.
    Anyway, all the best of luck to the employees. I wish them to have new jobs very quickly.

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  16. This is really sad news. I was only in the shop last week buying a few inserts. I have bought a fair few binders over the years there. I hope the staff find new employment soon.

    On the note of supporting independent shop, my favourite bookshop in Bath is about 100 miles from me, but they have an online service which I use in preference to the other bigger internet booksellers. The service is second to none, and I feel like I am doing my bit to help keep our high street alive. I'd love to find an independent CD/DVD seller.

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  17. I wish there was a Filofax shop near me. Strolling through that shop looks like my idea of fun. Sorry it will be closing.

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  18. Some years ago there was a good selection of Filofaxes at David Jones in Adelaide. I was there the other day and the FF occupy only a small part of a single shelve - which is even smaller than the last visit some months ago. On the other hand, Kikki.K occupy quite a large area.

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  20. While reading this news update regarding the closing of the London "flagship" store i realized that I have never once held, smelled or examined a Filofax, prior to purchase! Every one of my previously large collection has been ordered on the Internet.

    But even though brick & mortar store's employees have had to carry this change on their back--and that's a huge blow to familes--I think we are far better served by using the internet for the bulk of our planner shopping. Even if the package takes a frightfully long 13 days to arrive from a foreign country.

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  21. Oh no! I who have a trip to London planned for November and had been looking forward to actually being able to pick out the Filofax I want without inserts. I don't use any of the Filofax inserts since they are all wrong for my kind of planning/organising/writing/thinking/dreaming.

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    1. This is a very good point raised.....Conduit St is (was) the only place I knew where I could buy a FF new, without inserts. Are FF going to offer this option (with attendant discount) through their new super-website? I know where my money is on this one.....

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    2. David
      I can't offer an official response on this. From other sources though I know it has been considered in the past, not sure if they will reconsider it in the future. It might depend on the demand for this or not.
      Certainly Gillio offer you the option when you order of no inserts, week view inserts, day per page inserts. But you are paying quite a considerable price for them.
      Steve

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    3. Perhaps they could work it out if you first contacted customer services? I might try that.

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