Bumper enquiries for Apollo Blinds franchise following industry report

Apollo Blinds has seen an upsurge in the number of enquiries from potential franchisees in the wake of a heavyweight industry report which showed a huge growth in sales of window blinds over the past five years. Paul Kirby reports

Since the publication of the Mintel report - which showed that sales of window blinds have risen by 62 per cent over the past five years - Apollo Blinds has been inundated with enquiries from people wanting to become franchisees. The report provided independent proof which backs up what Apollo Blinds has been saying for a long time now: that the window blinds industry is one of the best performing sectors for anyone considering owning their own franchise. With an average annual growth of more than 12 per cent, the window blinds industry is a serious proposition for anyone who wants to build a business that will generate a significant return on investment.

Apollo Blinds is using these figures to its advantage as it can point potential franchisees to the independent research so that they can see the results for themselves. But the publication of these figures is only half the story of the prosperity of Apollo Blinds and its existing network of franchisees. It is Britain's biggest blinds store chain for very good reason - it is because Apollo Blinds has a network of showrooms across the UK that it stands out in the marketplace by offering something different.

Janine Brown, the franchisee for Stokesley (see opposite page), is building a thriving business because she has recognised that Apollo Blinds sells more than just quality window blinds. She provides advice and consultancy for people who want blinds to place a significant role in shaping the look and atmosphere of a room. This is what an increasing number of consumers are looking for and Apollo Blinds is cornering the market.

And then there's the company's not so secret weapon. Apollo Blinds is part of Hunter Douglas, the world's largest manufacturer of window blinds. This means it can offer its franchisees unique access to the widest choice of blinds at the most competitive wholesale rates possible. Which in turn allows its franchisees to offer their customers unparalleled choice at very competitive rates and allowing them to achieve healthy profits. So with all this in its favour and independent research which backs up what it has been saying, isn't it time you took a fresh look at Apollo Blinds?

Janine exemplifies the new Apollo Blinds
If anyone exemplifies the new Apollo Blinds it is Janine Brown. The 26-year-old from Stokesley near Middlesbrough has taken over the helm of the family franchise business first started by her parents more than 20 years ago. She heads up a team of eight and has ambitious plans for the business going forward. The platform for Janine's ambitions has been the new look of Apollo Blinds because she recognised straight away that the company is about more than just selling blinds.

Janine is leading the way as one of a new generation of Apollo Blinds franchisees who recognise that Apollo Blinds provides interior design advice and consultancy. And it is this advice which results in sales of blinds. 'When Apollo Blinds unveiled its new look, I immediately saw the future and what was possible for my franchise business,' says Janine. 'Apollo Blinds is firmly positioned at the consultative end of the market and that suits me just fine because it is what I trained for.'

Janine studied art and design at college and had plans to start her own interior design company. After leaving college, Janine started a career as an interior designer dressing show homes for house builders. She then started her own interior design company, but getting it off the ground proved difficult because it is a profession which can often take a long time to become established. Around the same time her parents suggested she take over the family franchise business and she has not looked back since.

'Interior design is my passion and my Apollo Blinds franchise allows me to do what I love,' she says. 'We have built a good reputation locally for going beyond what is expected of a window blinds company by providing advice about how our products contribute to the overall décor of any room. People come to us with tiles, fabrics and wallpaper samples and ask us to help them coordinate.'

And this approach is paying dividends, not just in terms of increased sales but also enhanced reputation.

'The new brand reinforces everything we want to achieve with our Apollo Blinds business,' she adds.

'When people come to our showroom they can see the quality of our products and the little extra touch we have added, such as having the latest interior design magazines available for customers to read to provide an extra resource of ideas and inspiration. It's these things that our customers are noticing and we are getting plenty of repeat business and recommendations as a result.'