Launched in 1972, Maplin’s mail-order catalogues have long been known to electronics enthusiasts as a source of essential components. But the firm also runs 118 shops, and opened 13 in 2006 alone. Since 1999 it has also been moving into online retailing and its website attracts more than 190,000 visitors a day, offering items ranging from satellite dishes and hard disks to remote-control toy helicopters to gaming console joysticks. It is owned by management and Montagu Private Equity, which backed a £244m secondary buyout in 2004. Sales have grown strongly, reaching £149.5m in 2006.
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