Apollo Blinds predicts van-tastic year

The new Apollo at home franchise is providing a credit crunch-friendly retail opportunity in the growing home improvements sector worth over £1 billion

Apollo Blinds is expecting 2009 to be the year that its new Apollo at home concept takes the franchising world by storm. If the reactions to its UK launch at the National Franchise Exhibition at Birmingham's NEC were anything to go by, then Apollo at home could become the hottest property in franchising. It attracted plenty of interest from visitors who were keen to know more about the new mobile franchise from a franchisor that most people associate with being Britain's biggest blinds store chain.

The company, which was one of the founding members of the British Franchise Association and has been franchising for more than 35 years, is proud that it has the UK's largest network of showrooms stocking window blinds, shutters and awnings. In developing Apollo at home it has ambitious plans to increase its market share of an industry, which is currently estimated to be worth over £1 billion.

The home improvements sector is the land of opportunity for franchisees with the right products and the ability to generate sales, according to Apollo Blinds General Manager Gary Chambers (pictured). 'Apollo at home has been developed specifically for people who would not otherwise have thought about becoming part of our network,' he says. 'When most people think of Apollo Blinds they think of our 70 showrooms around the UK, but actually a lot of the work our franchise owners do is in the customer's home, so having a new mobile franchise fits perfectly with our ethos of providing inspiring ideas which are expertly delivered.'

Apollo at home is a van-based trading model which operates to the same high standards as Apollo Blinds' retail franchise and franchise owners can offer the same range of blinds, shutters and awnings. It is a fast-track entry into the lucrative home interiors and window blinds industry because finding the right premises can sometimes be a time-consuming process. It is also considered to be an 'earn as you learn' franchise for people who want to see a return on their investment at an early stage because it does not have the same overheads as a retail store.

Gary adds: 'Apollo at home allows us to get new franchise owners up and running within a matter of weeks and this is a massive plus point because we know that as soon as potential investors register their interest, they're keen to get started as quickly as possible. We recognise that keeping tight control on overheads, especially in the early days of starting a business, is vital and our new Apollo at home helps franchisees to build confidence in the brand, the sector and themselves: and they can see that they are building a profitable business as part of the UK's most successful window blinds franchise network.

'All new franchise owners undergo a comprehensive training programme which covers all aspects of running an Apollo Blinds business including training on products, installation, sales, customer service and marketing. We are focusing recruitment activity on the Midlands, South West and South East of England because that is where we have the greatest number of opportunities for new Apollo at home franchises.'

Reported by Paul Kirby