Fonehouse eyes 50 franchisees


Fonehouse said last week it is confident it will have at least 50  stores carrying the Fonehouse signage by the end of the year.

Fonehouse managing director Clive Bayley was forced to adjust his original 2008 target of 35 franchise stores after the initial take-up was slow.

Bayley set about the franchise programme in May last year, offering established dealers and new entrants the chance to run stores under the Fonehouse brand, with equivalent branding, stock allocations and financial terms. The notion is, collectively, Fonehouse will enjoy better economies of scale, enabling all partners to better compete with larger high street chains.

But Bayley had only signed 16 partners by year-end; a figure that has now increased to 20.

He said an additional 30 is a realistic target for 2009, giving it 50 franchise outlets on top of Bayley’s own 15 stores.

Bayley said: “The programme is getting better and better. We have some great partners on board who are performing extremely well.

“We genuinely thought we could have 35 re-branded dealerships by the end of last year but only ended up with 16 – partly because of the economic situation.

“I’m looking at having 50 on our books by the end of the year on top of our own retail estate or maybe even perhaps more. I feel it’s a distinct possibility.”

Bayley suggested the recession, in fact, offered a good growth opportunity.

He said: “I like expanding during recessions – I’ve done it historically, as everything tends to be cheap. I see a recession as an opportunity; it’s very much a case of who dares wins.

“We have a successful brand to give independents in these challenging times. We know how to run a large retail estate and how to run a brand because of that.”