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zavvi Into Administration

Gordon Kelly by

zavvi Into Administration

There are some things you can see coming a million miles off...

The latest blow to the high street has been struck today with news the zavvi chain (formerly Virgin Megastores) has gone into administration. No notice has been placed on the (rather dishevelled) site as yet but a message posted on the main page last week hinted all wasn't well:

"A message to our customers 17.12.2008. We apologise for the ongoing supply problems that mean we are temporarily unable to accept orders at zavvi.co.uk. Remember you can still shop at our 125 zavvi stores across the UK and Ireland, where we continue to have good stock availability."

Since then however things have obviously taken a further turn for the worse and more than 2,363 permanent staff and 1,052 temporary staff will find their turkey tasting rather more dry tomorrow. That said zavvi stores will continue trading for the meantime with administrators looking to find a buyer for all or part of the business.

In a statement founding partners Simon Douglas and Steve Peckham admitted "We have done all that is possible to keep the business trading, but the problems encountered with {supplier} EUK, and particularly its recent failure, have been too much for the business to cope with."

Sadly, as I mentioned at the top of this story, you didn't need to be a genius to see this coming. After all, when the planet's most famous entrepreneur decides to ditch something there's probably a good reason why. Add to that the fact what was the UK's largest independent entertainment retailer (like Woolworths) had only recently considered starting an online download service and its outdated business practices really do become all too apparent. Indeed, speaking about the zavvi sale in September 2007 I went so far as to declare:

"All kudos here to Sir Rich. High street music retailing has been dying a death in recent years and with online sales booming and Apple adding WiFi access to iTunes direct from its new iPod touch player and iPhone it is likely to fall further still. Of course Mr Douglas may believe he has a brave new vision to shake off this high street malaise, but I find myself siding with the former crazy balloonist on this one. Fine move Sir."

Sometimes it sucks to be right.


zavvi customer message

Go to comments


December 24, 2008, 8:44 pm

I'm sorry that people have lost their jobs, but Zavvi stores were horrible, dirty, tacky and overpriced. Ripping off customers and providing shoddy service just isn't a sustainable business model any more. Businesses are learning this the hard way.


December 24, 2008, 11:04 pm

i thought they had some sorta backing from Virgin to the tune of &#163100 million as part of their deal.. Spent it all on christmas parties already?

Brian ONeill

December 24, 2008, 11:10 pm

I disagree, their new store in belfast was very nice to shop in. I was in the only week, and spent 80 quid. Lots of great offers, i got the wire season 4 for &#16325, only 50p more than amazon. I liked their mix of dvd's, books, cd's. This was a retailer who i thought had got the mix right, its a pity it did not work out for them.


December 25, 2008, 2:23 am

Even compared to their main competitor, HMV, Zavvi were expensive quite often. However, it's a dreadful reflection on modern society that the internet killed the High Street shop. People know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Richard Branson actually paid &#16340m to Entertainment UK (not &#163100m as was reported elsewhere) to settle Zavvi's debts to their administrators. What worries me most though is that there are people who don't have credit cards, don't have internet access and are paid low wages, possibly in cash. These people need the High Street shops and competition on the High Street at that. When the internet has killed the High Street, will it's prices start to rise? Maybe I'm just a guilty as others shopping on the internet, but I do like to shop in the High Street too. Zavvi could have helped itself more, by lower prices, but as long as Jersey and Guernsey have tax haven status, the High Street will continue to close down. I say, close this loophole and then the governement can keep the VAT down at 15% permanently! If only it was as easy as that! At least there would be a level playing field!

Chris Beach

December 25, 2008, 3:51 am

I must say I thought their stores were very clean and organized, much better than the HMV's. But for a lot of items they were overpriced, yes they did have bargains, but their blu/hd support was poor.

Went in a few weeks ago for a game, and thought I'd check out the bluray's...couldn't even find a proper section, just an odd few in the chart and that was it.

Paul Nicolson

December 26, 2008, 1:41 pm

This has been on the cards for years, the decline in retail music, more shops will head this way. Mr virgin new what he was doing !!!! Hmv will be next, the new generations dont need a disc in the hand, they just want an MP3 player, Bish Bosh as they say the digital age is nearly here in all its down load glory.

Martin Daler

December 27, 2008, 2:38 am

I've visited my local Zavvi a few times. It was punishment, all depressing blues and blacks, music (was that music?) blaring. I guess it was designed to appeal to the 'youf'. But who buys CDs these days? Old farts like me who still think CD is the bleeding edge, not the hip young mp3 generation. Yet the store environment was designed to repel anyone over 37!


December 29, 2008, 3:13 pm

There are still enough people who shop in the High Street and pay cash, for at least HMV to survice. Indeed, HMV are very profitable and this latest development will help them. HMV also has it's own, very successful web site and download service. Look at the adverts below this forum!

I was in Oxford Street yesterday, HMV were packed and Zavvi was nearly empty! I did pick up a couple of bargain in Zavvi! I didn't think I'd be saying that a week ago!

I noticed that Sister Ray's (Berwick Street) web site has gone. I know the shop was in trouble. Have they gone too?

mr dog

December 30, 2008, 5:35 pm

Like most i am also sorry to see Zavvi go, but as i have been living abroad i never really got to know it. The thing is, this is a consequence of a competitive, market-driven economy and it is one i don't really mind. Living in Germany where a year-old game like GTA IV still costs seventy euros, being back in London over christmas and being able to pick up new releases like Far Cry 2 and Prince of Persia at twenty to twenty five quid a pop was like retail heaven.

Zavvi and Woolies are just collatoral damage so that you brits can actually afford more than one game at a time and if more go down that route then the stage will be set for another price war, this time on the internet. (by the way, that secenty euro price was from amazon.de, so internet prices here aren't any better than you would pay on the high street).

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