Apollo Blinds means business...

Hot on the heels of its recent re-branding, Apollo Blinds has just unveiled its next significant development to help franchisees generate more business. Paul Kirby explains

'We're excited about our introduction of new collection books because this is another milestone step forward in the evolution of our business,' says Apollo Blinds Managing Director Patrick Harrison.

'But what I'm most pleased about is that these new collection books are going to enable our franchisees to achieve more sales. Not only have we introduced new product ranges into each collection, but we have developed a new, more intuitive way in which customers can use them to get inspiring ideas that are expertly delivered.'

This introduction has underpinned Apollo Blinds' shift in the marketplace, moving towards the more consultative end of the market, because Apollo Blinds has recognised that is what customers want from a modern and innovative window blind company.

'There will always be customers who are price driven and they are well serviced by the 'three for £99' suppliers, but the biggest growth area for us is the cash-rich, time-poor households who prefer to call in professionals to give them help and advice,' says Patrick. 'They are prepared to pay a premium for a service which will help them choose just the right blind to complement the rest of their room. This is a win-win situation for our franchisees for several reasons.

'Firstly we are part of Hunter Douglas, which is the world's largest manufacturer of window blinds, so the volume of production means net costs are extremely low. Therefore, franchisees can generate high gross margins on the sale of each blind. Secondly, even with the high gross margins that franchisees can achieve, the overall price a customer sees is often a lot lower than our comparable competitors. In a lot of cases our quotes are often less than customers were expecting to pay.

'Since the launch of our new branding we have seen a real upturn in sales across our franchisee network for exactly these reasons. The launch of the new collections will further strengthen this position and enable our franchisees to sell with even greater confidence.'

Apollo Blinds has just launched three new collection books - for Roller, Vertical and Venetian blinds. It plans to roll out its Roman and Pleated collection books early in the New Year. The collection books have a common lifestyle theme running through them which encourages customers to link beyond blinds. They bring each range to life by showing examples of how and where they can be used. The use of swatches enables customers to get a very clear idea of whether they will complement other furniture and decoration in a room.

Even the collation and naming of each range has been carefully developed and thought through so as to make it as easy as possible for customers to make the association between the range and its usage. For example some of the ranges in the Vertical collection are: City, Natural, Intense, Retreat, Tranquil, Zest, Colonial, Awakening, Elegance, Reflection, Sophisticated, Innocence, Refresh and Contemporary. Each has its own mood and feel - Colonial for example is described as: 'With soft dusty suedes that look and feel like chocolate and warm copper woods set off by sky blue, the Colonial range is full of warmth and character. With the colour palette of a bright autumn day the range creates a very cosy and luxurious atmosphere, perfect for any room in the house.'

Whereas the Roller collection has ranges such as: Modern, Retro, Traditional, Urban, Pure Clarity, Classical, Textured, Serene, Calming, Stylish and Contentment. Again the names reflect each range's own uniqueness, with Urban being described as:

'From New York coffee shop to Parisian café these rich, warm, bold designs make anyone feel at home. Think chocca mocha latte with double helpings of cream and you get the flavour of this delicious range.'

The Venetian collection is different again with ranges such as: Vibrancy, Energise, Aliwood, Simply Wood, Woodstyle and Nouvelle. 'These collections are true to our ethos of providing inspiring ideas that are expertly delivered,' Patrick adds. 'We believe our new collections will help further differentiate us in the marketplace and this will help existing franchisees to generate more sales.

'They will also be the centrepiece on our stands at forthcoming exhibitions, so potential franchisees can also see just how impressive they are. After all, they are going to be the primary sales tools they will use so it will be good for potential franchisees to see them.'

On a final note, Patrick says, 'the new collections are another integral part of our overall five year plan to double the size of our franchisee network. By having these in place it becomes another reason in a growing list of compelling reasons for joining Britain's biggest blind store chain.'