"Next year, internally, there will be some disruption remaining from the big reorganisation we have just made and from the one man store programme. Nevertheless I, and all the rest of Games Workshop, still believe we should be growing by opening new stores; particularly in North America and Germany."
External events that may affect us are only those things that bother everyone: interest rates, tax rates, exchange rates, directives from Brussels, war, pestilence and disease. What will not change is the eternal desire for some always to want yet more of the small, jewel-like objects of magic and wonder that we call Citadel miniatures.
Beyond next year, the business ought to be able to increase sales (single digit growth, not more) for many years and to provide owners with a steady flow of dividends. I say ‘ought to’ because no plan survives contact with the enemy and we will not promise what we cannot deliver — in particular our policy of only returning surplus cash as dividends will remain. We will not borrow (nor engage in fancy financial engineering) to pay a coupon.
Reported sales fell by 8.2% to £123.5 million for the year. On a constant currency basis, sales were down by 6.5% from £134.6 million to £125.9 million; progress was achieved in Other sales businesses (+20.9%) and Export (+2.7%) while sales in UK (-7.1%), Continental Europe (-10.6%), North America (-7.5%), Australia (-9.4%) and Asia (-3.3%) were in decline.
Sales fell by 9% in the year, partially due to the continental european reorganisation and a disappointing year in North America.
Our new online shop was launched this year and our online sales are broadly in line with the prior year.
We are vertically integrated. We design, manufacture and distribute ourselves; we have our own stores and web store. With the sole, and rapidly declining, exception of products from Tolkien's books we use only our own imaginary worlds. They are rich enough and deep enough to accommodate anything we may want to make, and they remain our property.
Risks and uncertainties
That we are ex-growth is a big risk seen by some. As I said above I do not believe it. But if it is true we have built a wonderfully efficient cash-generating machine. The bigger risk is the same one I repeat each year, and that is management. So long as we have great people we will be fine. Problems will arise if the board allows egos and private agendas to rule.We also need a constant flow of great managers for our stores. In the end that is still the most important thing of all.
Our market is a niche market made up of people who want to collect our miniatures. They tend to be male, middle-class, discerning teenagers and adults. We do no demographic research, we have no focus groups, we do not ask the market what it wants. These things are otiose in a niche.
- Tom Kirby