A rather sad outcome.

I was working as a retail store manager for years with Brackenbury (Digicall/Vodafone) and during the time they purchased Allans, to just prior to the Billy Hydes merger. My wife was a state trainer for Brackenbury, making store visits to Allans, coaching and providing support to staff and managers. I had a hand in the writing of the studio tech and synth training modules for new staff, and visited Allans as part of own career development, and therefore gained considerable insight into the workings of Allans, and its dramatic makeover (for the better). And funnily enough, I happened to do my work experience back in 1990 at Andy Evans Drumcraft in Surry Hills, Sydney, before it was taken over to become Billy Hydes Drumcraft (and then to the Allans Billy Hydes today).

Prior to Brackenbury taking over around 2005, there was no consistency in store merchandising, training, ordering. Every store basically did what it wanted, the stores were full of superceded stock, one of everything, across the range. Incredibly wasteful. This was quickly cleaned up, bringing in a centralised stock ordering model, along with slick store refits and thorough training, coaching and development of staff. As expected, there was staff turnover, however, with the new people coming through the ranks, a great staff foundation was being laid out, great gear was being stocked, and pricing was sharper.

So where did it go so wrong?

I wasn't with Brackenbury for the past few years, so have been out of touch with the merger with Billy Hydes. I can only think it comes down to the pricing model. Somehow it works for Harvey Norman to slap retail price tickets on everything, then only reduce the price when someone brings in a competitor quote (but Harvey Norman tends to own the land/shops surrounding many of their premises, and so has as rental return regardless if no-one actually steps in their doors).

But Allans did match prices. But perhaps that's not enough, especially not against the internet.

As a comparison, Turramusic would straight off the bat offer a 20-25% discount making it easy to feel like one's getting a great deal. They've always been great for the 25+ years I've been shopping with them. But how Turramusic managed without floorspace for so long, I don't know. (Though haven't they expanded into one of the shops next door in recent years?). I wonder how strong business is for the likes of Turra these days? Gear is cheap, margins are less, people prefer software for much of their studio needs (and often aren't even prepared to pay for that), and gear from overseas is still cheaper.

Anyway, so sad to see Allans/Billy Hydes demise. So much time, money and effort had been poured into it to make it awesome. Seems that no sale was still seen as a better alternative to a lower-than-expecting margin, and then the cash flow stops.

Or is it a imported/wholesaler/distributer issue? Or the international companies dictating pricing into Australia?

A real bugger about the 'no gift cards' thing. That should be overhauled by the government in exactly the same way the travel industry operates in Australia, where the funds are not held by the business until the customer actually wishes to redeem their gift card credit.

Last edited by Spectrum: 25-Aug-12 at 05:31pm