Robert Hampton

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9th February 2013

Rapid Decline

Genuine sadness in Liverpool this week, as respected independent retailer Rapid Hardware has gone into administration. The store has been shut since Thursday and it appears increasingly likely that it will never reopen.

The company employs over 100 people – or, as they will soon be known to the Sun and Daily Mail, 100 lazy benefit scroungers.

The one sentiment that has been expressed over and over again by observers is that the shop should never have moved from Renshaw Street. Their old site had ample space outside to load bulky items into waiting cars or taxis – something not possible at their current home in George Henry Lee building, surrounded by pedestrianised streets. Also, the old shop – occupying the entire length of Renshaw Street from the junction with Bold Street all the way down to Lewis’s – was genuinely impressive. I remember being on an open-top bus tour where the guide pointed it out to the tourists – that’s how much of a landmark it was. Here’s an episode of the Apprentice from 2009 in which the shop was featured.

I’m genuinely going to miss Rapid. The city centre location was ideal for office workers like me who needed the odd DIY item. I would often pop in on my lunch break to pick up odds and sods. My last purchase there was just a few weeks ago – a desk lamp from their electrical department. And in December I made my annual trip to their Christmas decorations department, to see what lights I could buy to make my home visible from space over the festive season.

So, that’s another independent retailer to the wall, and the day draws closer when there will only be three organisations selling stuff in the whole world: Tesco, Amazon and Starbucks. I for one welcome our vast corporate monolith overlords. Mine’s a Caramel Macchiato, thanks.


One Response
  1. Comment by Steve
    2nd March 2013 at 9:44 am

    I agree there’s probably much to be said about the decline being related to the move to a central location rather than being on the outskirts. Then again, there’s probably as much about the difference in rents/purchase prices of the buildings and whether the end of lines that they seemed to get in white goods and furniture were still available to them. When I visited them just before Christmas it looked like they were already having an administration sale and reducing their footprint in the building.

    Sad, but probably inevitable.

    I can see the name being bought from the administrators and turned into a purely on-line brand, which has probably also killed off the company.