Apollo Blinds: Potential franchisees flocking to new look

After a bumper response to the launch of Apollo Blinds' new brand identity at the Manchester expo, General Manager Patrick Harrison tells Paul Kirby the aims of the new brand

'The reaction to Apollo Blinds' new image and the number of enquiries generated at the British Franchise Exhibition was way beyond our expectations,' says Apollo Blinds General Manager Patrick Harrison. 'The new branding was very well received when we first showed it to our franchisees at our annual conference, but we always knew that our first public showing at the exhibition was going to be the acid test.

'The footfall onto our stand and the amount of high quality enquiries this generated has left us in no doubt that re-branding Apollo Blinds was exactly the right thing to do for the future growth of the company. Everyone who worked that weekend came away with a resounding feeling that with the introduction of the new branding, Apollo Blinds is on the verge of generating exceptional growth.'

While Patrick is delighted with the number of high quality leads that resulted in the new branding's first public appearance, he is more pleased that people reacted to it in the way he had hoped. 'A lot of time and resources went into creating our new branding,' he says. 'There were a lot of elements we wanted to convey about Apollo Blinds and the quality of our products and we think we've achieved all of them.'

Patrick sees the brand as modern, clean and inspiring. It exudes style and there is an innate but integral suggestion of quality and sophistication. While the new brand screams contemporary chic, it retains strong elements of accessibility so it has easy appeal for different consumer groups. The use of elongated letters goes some way to explaining what Apollo Blinds is and what it stands for. They imply the upwards and downwards movement that most people associate with the function of a window blind.

'We undertook extensive consumer and franchisee research to assess the way Apollo Blinds is perceived externally and internally,' says Patrick. 'We already knew that we provided the best quality window blind products in the market. However, the research was also resounding in its praise of the service and expertise which Apollo Blinds delivers to customers through the entire process of enquiring about, choosing, purchasing and fitting window blinds.

'But the problem we had was that our old image didn't reflect that. Because we had the old image for so long, it had become very dated. A lot of the feedback we got said that it positioned Apollo Blinds at the wrong end of the market. We were seen as competing at the bulk discount end of the market.

'Because we have the backing of Hunter Douglas - which is the world's largest manufacturer of window blinds - we can easily compete in that sector, but that's not where Apollo Blinds' core strengths are. We offer top quality products with a service level to match. Customers come and talk to us to get advice and consultation about the right dressings for the windows in their homes. We provide a consultative interior design service as well as quality window blinds and this is something homeowners are prepared to pay a premium for.

'Finally, we have the image that now reflects all of those things and the reaction of visitors to the Manchester exhibition only serves to confirm it.'

A new force on the high street
Now Apollo Blinds has reinvented itself, does it sit perfectly with its high street peers? Apollo Blinds can now confidently compete with all the household names that the public instantly associate with inspiring consumers and leading the way in home décor trends.

The picture of how its new generation of showrooms will look further confirms Apollo Blinds' resolution that it has pitched itself at just the right level. Stores are inviting without being aloof. They are stylish without being prohibitively exclusive.

'The look of our new showrooms is intriguing,' said Patrick. 'They force people to do a double-take and make people curious enough to step inside and take a look.

'They don't look like what most people would think of as a window blind showroom. An Apollo Blinds showroom looks like a place to be seen going into, or coming out of. And this is reflected in the reaction of consumers who have already seen the new look Apollo Blinds.'

So what does this mean for existing and potential franchisees?
The company has completely changed its image, repositioned itself in the marketplace and created a brand that reflects the quality of its products and service. Patrick believes that these are three compelling reasons to become an Apollo Blinds franchisee.

'Our new brand opens up a whole new world of opportunities for anyone who wants to build their own business as part of the Apollo Blinds network,' he says. 'We already know our franchisees can provide the widest range of products, which are of the highest quality and at very competitive prices for their customers. Our pricing structure means there is always plenty of margin for our franchisees to build a healthy business because of the generous profits that can be generated.

'We can offer people with the vision to come and join us an exciting new brand under which they can act as home interior consultants, providing expert advice on products people will pay a premium for.'

Summing up the work ahead for Apollo Blinds, Patrick concludes: 'We have created a brand that we now have to build on. On top of the initial investment to get us to where we are now, we are committed to supporting the building of the Apollo Blinds brand with substantial extra investment for each of the next five years. That is our commitment to helping our franchisees create their own prosperous businesses.'