Orange starts franchise scheme


Orange has unveiled a multi-pronged development of its retail strategy, with the launch also of a new ‘community’ store in Monmouth, Wales, a new multimedia store in Milton Keynes, the first of 100 HMV concessions and the first of 10 franchises.

The Monmouth community store, which is set up like a coffee lounge for mobile customers, opened this week. Staff will be paid commission linked to customer service, rather than straight sales.

The store will offer handset and billing support, and at the same time feature a kitchen and seating area with newspapers and other literature. In-store signs will be in Welsh and English. It will run coffee mornings for the local community, Orange said.

Orange’s first multimedia store opens in September, and will showcase a broader selection of Orange products. It will have an “urban, minimalistic look,” Orange said.

The franchise scheme, starting with a site in Bridlington in East Yorkshire, will see dealerships operate under the Orange signage, with stock preference and a superior commercial arrangement. Orange reduces its financial risk on the store by leasing its brand.

The scheme follows a similar model rolled out by O2. Independent retailers JAG and Fonehouse are also running franchise schemes.

As well, Orange has opened concessions in HMV stores in Glasgow Silverburn, Plymouth and Teesside Retail Park, with the Oxford Street concession due to open in the flagship HMV store in early September. It has a dedicated space in HMV stores, with a focus on music, games and video mobile handsets and devices.

Twenty HMV stores will be selling Orange products by the end of August and up to 100 have been earmarked to take the store within store approach by Christmas.

Orange will look to drive usage of multimedia and entertainment services via the HMV partnership; non-voice services account for 24 per cent of Orange UK revenues.

Orange UK head of retail Sian Doyle (pictured) said: “By trialling different store formats we aim to identify the best and most successful ways of serving the personal requirements of our diverse customer base and not deliver a one size fits all approach to our customers.

“High street retailing in the UK needs to evolve and diversify to better meet customer needs. We aim to create an enjoyable shopping environment that offers the latest technology and highest standard of customer service for everyone to enjoy at their own convenience. Through these new formats we will be able to gauge consumer appetite for different formats which will ultimately shape our future retail strategy and change how mobile and broadband businesses operate on the high street.”