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The details on the retail sector

retail franchise tips

Retail remains a buoyant and popular market – and a great choice for aspiring franchisees

Late last year a new buzzword entered the lexicon. At the same time as the subsequent footage of “shopper madness” could be seen, the term ‘Black Friday’ was beginning to be heard across the media. It describes a retailing trend, established Stateside for some time and now gathering pace in the UK, of the massive seasonal discounting of goods for a short time.

Reports of the death of the high street stores may be a little premature – despite the rise in online shopping, consumers are still flocking to retail centres, malls and town centres. Incidentally, national third-quarter retail figures have revealed the strongest growth in Britain’s retail sales sector since the pre-recession Q1 of 2008.

When it comes to franchising, retail is a sector in which this business model (rather than an independent start-up) is particularly attractive; a franchisor brings a recognised brand name and reputation, customer service standards, marketing nous plus an active and engaged target audience. Wherever there’s places to shop, there’s usually leisure and dining nearby – cinemas, quick-service restaurants and so on. This too is a sector with strong franchise associations. For example, ice-cream brand Baskin-Robbins recently entered into a franchise partnership with Cineworld and Costa has coffee outlets within Waterstones bookshops nationwide.

Retail franchising is very much a people-led industry – being able to deal with customers and manage staff are valued attributes. In-store experience is not essential, however; what franchisors look for is enthusiasm and the desire to succeed in what is a thriving and varied marketplace. Eric Ho, founder of YoYo Noodle supports this view: “Food retail is an extremely competitive market but YoYo Noodle has the advantage of being very unique in its product offering, which means we are not in direct competition with any other big food brands.

“The beauty of franchising in the food retail market is that you don’t necessarily need experience in the industry to invest. To be a YoYo Noodle franchisee, you just need an entrepreneurial mind and a drive to succeed – we’ll teach you the rest!”

Here, three franchisees share their retail business success stories.


Before launching their own CeX outlet, Fasih, Sabhi and Wajeeh Hassan helped to run the family businesses. The brothers began looking into franchising when a US-based family member, who runs a number of his own franchises, recommended the business model. Subsequently, they decided to team up and launch Cex Farnborough as business partners.

What was your previous occupation and why did you leave?

We were helping to run the family businesses which included a restaurant and a cab office in London. The reason for branching out was to become part of a larger retail business with a global branding.

Why did you decide to look into franchising?

A family member who runs a number of large fast-food franchises in the US recommended that we should look into franchising because it would allow usto have the support that we required whilst instantaneously having a reputable brand image.

What were your criteria when choosing a franchised business?

After looking at fast-food franchises we decided that it was not the industry for us and, being passionate about technology, we decided CeX was asuitable fit. The criteria were: a) that the brand was well-known within its market and b) it was a franchise that had not reached saturation point in terms of expansion and market share.

Where did you find out about CeX?

We originally looked at a CeX franchise back in 2006 after reading about it ina magazine, but lacked the funding at that time to go ahead.

What appealed to you most about CeX’s franchise offering?

We wanted to be part of the evolving electronics, gadget and games industry. Plus, every time we went into a CeX store, it always had a vibrant atmosphere that we wanted to be part of.

What training did you receive?

The training included an initial induction with a follow-up, three-day store experience. From there, the requirement was that we each completed a minimum of 300 hours, which included working right the way through from sales assistant to running a store.

How would you rate the training?

The training we received really helped us to be comfortable with running a store and prepared for the journey ahead. We were lucky enough to train in a number of different stores, and the CeX staff have provided all the tools necessary to succeed.

What type of support have you received from CeX?

The support mechanism that CeX employ is invaluable in ensuring that our business continues to grow and be successful. Our franchise manager, Alan, has guided us right the way through to opening a store and helped us to avoid the pitfalls, guiding us towards our goal of opening multiple CeX stores. We have also received support from CeX in terms of training, recruitment and ongoing operational support.

How is your business performing in relation to your targets?

It’s performing great! We are currently on course to exceed our target.

Do you feel CeX have fulfilled their obligations?

Yes, everything has been set up in accordance with their promises.

Is becoming a franchise owner how you expected it to be?

Yes, 100 per cent. It is a lot of hard work but very rewarding. It is a fun place to work and has fulfilled my expectations.

What do you enjoy most about your business and how has it improved your lifestyle?

We enjoy watching how our actions directly affect the success of the business. Having the day-to-day interaction with a wide customer base means that no two days are the same. It also brings us great joy to see the staff develop as individualswithin the business. The family-like atmosphere makes the business a pleasure to work in. Our lifestyle has improved as, even though we work hard, the business as given us more controlover our time.

What are your plans for the future of the business?

We are heading towards achieving our targets for this year. Our future plan is to increase business and look to expand to a minimum of three stores.

What sort of person do you think suits a CeX franchise?

Someone who is willing to give it their all and be flexible, as well as having a passion for technology.

The ZipYard

Having run his own businesses before, Graeme Mulheron is no stranger to franchising. He became the owner of The ZipYard Bedford in the summerof 2014.

How did you arrive at your decision to run a franchise business?

I’d already plenty of experience in the business model and of sales and marketing garnered from running multiple branches of Cash Generator.

How did you hear about The ZipYard?

I had read about their arrival in the UK and was vaguely interested, but it wasn’t until I had to get a suit altered to go to a business awards dinner that I realised just how much the local area needed a top-quality alterations and repair service.

I searched high and low for someone to carry out the repair and eventually ended up in the middle of an indoor market at a stall having the alterations pinned on me in full view of the other shoppers! It dawned on me that there must be lots of other people out there just like me, needing to have clothes altered but with nowhere to take them, so I decided to bring The ZipYard to Bedford!

The time was right to move on and give my career a new direction. I was proud of the Cash Generator businesses that I had built up … but as a marketer, I am always on the lookout for innovative ideas and The ZipYard’s model ticked all the boxes.

How have you found business so far?

Good! By the time our local mayor, Dave Hodgson declared the store officially open – we were trading at almost full capacity and looking to recruit a third seamstressto our team. I’ve been extremely pleased with the success of our repair centre so far… As with any business, if you can combine excellence in service with excellence of products, you have a winning formula and that’s certainly what we’ve got here at The ZipYard Bedford.



Subway franchisee Stephen Coulter opened his first store in Belfast in December 2013 after almost 12 months of researching, planning, training and preparation.

How did you come across the Subway brand franchise?

I had been watching the Subway brand closely for a long time ... Once I’d decided that I wanted to make a move from my management job in the restaurant sector, I started looking around at business opportunities, specifically franchises.

Once you’d decided to invest in your Subway franchise, what were your next steps?

In January 2013, I began the process of applying for a Subway franchise, spending time in Subway stores, talking to other franchisees and writing my business plan.

With the help of the regional development office, I found the ideal site – a newly built 1,100 square-foot unit at Holywood Exchange Retail Park in the north east of Belfast.

The location is perfect for what I wanted for my first store. It’s a new unit on a retail park, which meant I had the most flexibility you’re likely to have in terms of store design, layout and equipment within the space. This was important to me, as I wanted to be able to design the layout of the store to meet the needs of my customers.

The guidance and support I had from the regional development team was so valuable, I felt like they were there with me every step of the way, and I could call them to ask anything. The support was probably the most reassuring aspect for me – although I had decided to start my own business, I felt I was in good company, and was being well looked after.

Do have any advice for those thinking of taking the step to becoming a franchisee?

It’s really hard work running your own business, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done, and what’s more important, I really enjoy it. My advice to anyone considering buying a franchise is simple; just do it – but be prepared to work hard, and that means being very hands-on in your store, especially in the early days.

Have things been as you expected?

Yes, great! I’ve now got seven full-time staff at the store, and am keen to lead by example – more often than not I’ll be working behind the counter, serving customers and making subs.

What are your plans for the future of your business?

I’m really enjoying running my store at the moment, I have a great team around me, and we’re in good shape. I’m looking to develop a delivery side to the business in the coming months, making the most of the lunchtime market, especially in the local business park. I’d love to open a second store, and I’m always keeping my eyes open for opportunities, but I think there’s plenty to do here first!