There has been no shortage of commentary and analysis about the collapse of electronics retailer Dick Smith.
The role of private equity has been questioned, as has the retailer’s ability to manage its inventory. Other retailers have offered their opinions about what went wrong.
The company’s chief executive has been replaced and as we discovered after the first meeting of the company’s creditors last week, some Dick Smith employees have also lost their jobs as a result of the company’s receivership.
Receivers Ferrier Hodgson have so far received at least 45 expressions of interest in the business, indicating there is a chance at least part of the retail chain will survive in some form.
But regardless of who buys Dick Smith, they will have a battle on their hands to hold on to the customer loyalty the business has fought hard to develop since it was founded by entrepreneur Dick Smith in 1968.
It’s a fact not lost on the current management, who published an open letter to Dick Smith customers over the weekend. The same letter was emailed to Dick Smith shoppers on Sunday morning.
“To have generations of Australians and New Zealanders shopping in our stores and – in more recent times – online, is testament to what Dick Smith did right for so many years: offer the products customers want, at a price that’s right, with knowledgeable, friendly service,” the email said.
“It’s a simple formula that helped us become one of the most-loved and trusted retail brands, employing thousands of Aussies and Kiwis.
“That trust was hard won and, in recent time, easily lost.”
Dick Smith used the letter to thank its suppliers “who have stayed with us in recent times” and said it will offer customers full refunds if the company is unable to repair or replace products bought from its stores during the receivership.
Management said the company “will aim to win back the trust of our loyal and valued customers, by getting back to doing what Dick Smith has done best during our history – great products, great prices and friendly, knowledgeable service”.
“We’re working towards a brighter future, built on the fundamentals that underpinned our success over so many years and look forward to serving you again,” they said.
It will be months before we learn the fate of Dick Smith, with the voluntary administrators indicating last week they will be seeking to extend their investigation.
It will be even longer still before we know if this loyalty and trust has not been lost too.