What Woolworths Selling Dick Smith Will Mean For Customers And Staff

Nine months after putting it on the market, Woolworths has found a buyer for its Dick Smith electronics chain. Anchorage Capital Partners will purchase the remaining 325 stores, but what will that mean for consumers and the people who work there?

As we noted when Woolworths first announced its plans to sell off Dick Smith back in January, it will take a while before we see any clear impact in terms of pricing and product lines, and that remains the case even with a buyer. One obvious consequence will be that Dick Smith loses access to Amazon's Kindle e-readers, which have been sold exclusively through Woolworths-owned stores. However, since the cheapest way to buy a Kindle is direct from Amazon itself, that's not much of a concern for the savvy consumer.

More significant is that Dick Smith won't be able to take advantage of Woolworths' scale when purchasing product; it now stands on its own. That isn't necessarily a problem; rival JB Hi-Fi is highly competitive on price. Dick Smith rated well for customer service in a recent CHOICE shadow shopping exercise, but managed to annoy a lot of customers with a poorly-managed game sale earlier this year.

Anchorage is unlikely to want to hold the company for the long term; capital firms typically restructure businesses and then sell them to someone else. Woolworths alludes to that scenario in its announcement, which notes that it will receive $20 million this financial year but could also benefit from "any upside resulting from a future sale of Dick Smith by Anchorage". That's far more likely to mean additional store closures and redundancies than any kind of expansion. If I was a staff member, I'd be nervous, but we'll have to wait and see.

[via CRN]


    Well they couldn't get any worse. I've bought 4 things from Dick Smith in the past 4-5 years, and 3 of them were second hand goods re-shrink wrapped as new. In one case (an Acer computer), it was marked as faulty and to be returned by Acer, but instead they just boxed it up and sold it to me. When *I* called Acer for troubleshooting, they asked if I was Mr XXXXX. I wasn't, that was the last poor sucker.
    Same thing with a Cordless phone - When I opened the box the phone was already covered in greasy fingerprints and someone had doodled in the manual.

      Buying 4 things from DS in the last 4-5 years isn't exactly a rock-solid foundation for sweeping claims, though, is it?
      If the laptop was 'marked as faulty', why did you let them box it up and sell it to you - and why did you not return it if you thought you'd been sold faulty goods against your will?
      It's not hard to see if a product box is still sealed or not before you buy it - and if it's not sealed, most staff are generally more than happy to let you check the contents if it means it will close the sale.

      +1 i have had this once or twice and have since wised up and stopped buying anything from them that looked even a little tampered with. RDVRK, sometimes they have the sticker on them stating they are returned goods but other times its just repackaged as "new" which is illegal.

      Any store that allows change of mind returns (most large chains except Good Guys & Harvey Norman) are the same. You can end up with goods someone bought, used, then changed their minds and returned.

      No Dick Smith store in WA has ever been issued a shrink wrap device. I've worked in enough to know that much.

      OK as a DSE employee i'm going to tell you a couple of things.

      if an item has been returned, is a display unit, or has been repaired there is always a sticker on the box. If the person who sold it to you did not point that out then that is human error and should not be something you slam the dick smith chain for. The amount of people who buy something and then find out that it's not what they wanted or that the item was incompatible is crazy, we reduce the price -re packaged (NOT shrink wrapped, i work in the largest DSE in melbourne and we do not have a shrink wrap device).

      The Warranty and customer registration issue is nothing to do with DSE it's ACER that are supposed to deal with first year warranty issues and if they don't do their job properly then what are we supposed to do? when they send an item back saying it's repaired then we believe them.

      Sincerely a Casual DSE employee who is changing jobs soon because I want to be a designer not a salesperson. (just incase you think i'm biased, i'm not, this was just a job to earn some cash)

    Bought many things at Dick Smith over the years, very happy with goods. Bought some damaged/returned at reduced prices, also value for money. I don't believe the staff are as tech savvy since Woolies bought them, so have to do more research myself now, though this would vary from store to store. Some people would benefit from better advice from store staff, but I do appreciate that would increase costs.

    Staff will lose access to their 5% discount card for all of Woolworths stores and 4c a litre off petrol.

    DSE is my store-of-last-resort when it comes to gadgets and major elctrical purchases. Mostly just use them from (overpriced) cables and such when I need something quickly right then and there, mostly for work etc.

    I too am wary/cautious of the mind-changing-return-policy. I used to work with a guy who went to DSE evrey weekend to buy something , would play with it for a week or so, then take it back , and buy something else. he was a gadget freak and loved to play with the new toys. Sure he actually kept some things. But 9/10 "purchases" were always made with full intent of returning. Imagine there are many out there like that. Which means a fair chunk of stock on the shelves is less-than-new. Not for me I'm afraid. If I'm paying full-tote, I want new-new.

    PS: is it just me or does $20M seem waaaay to ocheap for 325 stores ? The stock-on-hand alone must be worth far more than that... let alone the fittings, the brand and any IP. I understand that DSE doesn't own the buildings, but still...

    I've never bought a single thing from Dick Smith.

    Since about 1990 they stopped being a good place to buy electronics, and became rip-off merchants.

    I have always wondered what the real dick smith would say about all this, or is us happy they bought it from him all those years ago?

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