So long, Computer Warehouse

I had this month?s column all sorted and almost finished when I was completely amazed by the extraordinary announcement that none other than Computer Warehouse had gone into liquidation.
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Call me naive, but I really didn’t think I’d be sitting here writing a column about the demise of the company that once enjoyed the acclaim
of being the UK’s biggest Apple reseller, winning many coveted awards for their standards of customer service and satisfaction during their 20-year history.

I certainly always held Computer Warehouse in high esteem, and visited the company’s superb showrooms in Brentford, London, on many occasions. Meeting their many sales staff and directors at Apple events and product launches was a regular occurrence and I always viewed their unique and refreshing advertising style with much admiration.

Computer Warehouse deserved its success, and I was very pleased to help celebrate the firm’s 21st anniversary while looking forward to seeing the new, larger premises in Park Royal which it moved into late last year. But quietly I suspected the company’s success might have stalled when their PopXpress venture – an ambitious
attempt at setting up a chain of dedicated iPod-only retail stores – came and went in a short timeframe
during 2006.

Jonathan Cole, CW’s managing director, confided to me at the time that the project had proved very expensive for the company. CW joins a growing list of larger, long-established dealers for online (or telephone) sales who have
certainly suffered with the growth of Apple’s own direct and retail operations, alongside the multitude of new APR stores; the sales pattern has certainly changed for Apple's volume sales from online to the more personal ‘retail’ purchasing experience.

It’s only two years since another major direct sales Apple reseller – Gordon Harwood Computers, based near Derby – also closed their doors for similar reasons. By coincidence, in 2008 GHC was taken over by Square Group, one of Apple’s most successful APR Store operations, who have announced they are the buyers of the identity, customer base and online sales operation of Computer Warehouse. Square has recently invested heavily in its new
online sales operation and has also recruited senior members of CW’s sales team to ease the transition for CW's customers.

Goodbye Computer Warehouse, the Mac channel will be a less interesting place without you.

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