Cutting edge products...cutting edge franchise

Aiming for national coverage within five years, CeX franchisees will benefit from a virtually recession-proof business system, an established brand and a loyal customer base. Adam Browning reports

In a dynamic and fast-paced industry driven by demand for the latest technological developments, CeX (Complete entertainment Exchange) is providing an invaluable retail outlet for consumers.

CeX stores specialise in the buying and selling of quality second-hand technology and entertainment products, dividing its main product lines into five 'Super Categories': Videogames, DVDs, Computing, Electronics and Mobile Phones. As well as offering customers an opportunity to exchange their unwanted goods for cash, CeX stores provide 12 month warranties on almost all goods and attractive prices on all goods sold.

'The market potential is huge,' reveals Franchise Director Hugh Man. 'The videogame business is massive, with its estimated value now rivalling that of the movie business. We currently store the buy and sell prices of over 50,000 lines. DVD has entered the living room faster than any previous device and in the fast moving world of computers, upgrading to keep ahead is paramount for technology buffs. From MP3 players to digital cameras and the huge range of associated memory cards, electronics is our fastest growing stock line. Our mobile phone ranges also continue to grow, after all who doesn't have a mobile phone?'

Established for 14 years, CeX stores are supported by a high-tech website, through which customers can check real-time product availability or obtain an estimate for an item exchange. Each store has access to the CeX call centre, which serves customer enquiries, and a bespoke EPOS system designed especially to simplify the buying, selling and exchanging of goods.

Founded in 1992 and with 25 company-owned stores, CeX is now seeking motivated and determined individuals to roll out its proven business model across the UK's high streets. 'We're an energetic and enthusiastic retail brand seeking like-minded individuals keen to make substantial profits from the buying and selling of second-hand products,' says Hugh. 'While an interest in the products we sell and retail experience would be an advantage, they are not essential. We provide full initial and ongoing training in the operation of the business, IT, bespoke EPOS, pricing, marketing, customer care skills, and buying and selling.'

Franchisees also benefit from ongoing support provided by the CeX senior management team including general business advice, new product updates, pricing, marketing, product repair, stock redistribution, IT, HR, CeX's public website and intranet.

'Through franchising we aim to achieve national coverage making our goods and services widely available,' imparts Hugh. 'By working closely with our franchisees, within the next five years we aim to establish a network of over 100 company owned and franchised stores nationwide.'

Kasim Ali worked as a CeX Stock Control Manager for seven years before becoming the first franchisee.
'The business model is virtually recession-proof. With CeX's range of complementary products we are able to offer our customers a unique one-stop service where they can trade in their game console for a different model or part exchange it towards a laptop, or a mobile phone for example. In addition, every product we stock traditionally has a cyclical pattern. The beauty of CeX is that second-hand goods are totally supply and demand driven, which smoothes out the traditional pattern of new products.

'The CeX website works 24 hours a day for me and lists the prices and products I have in stock, it's a great innovation. The CeX call centre means that I don't have to take every customer query, which saves me time and money too.

'If I've needed anything, CeX has been there to either advise or provide. I would recommend this franchise to others - I'm my own boss and in control of my own destiny, but with the reassurance that CeX are there when I need help. I'm now looking to obtain Area Developer rights and open a second store.'

Stephen Boult, CeX's latest franchisee, looks forward to opening his first store.
'About a year and a half ago my wife starting working as the Finance Director for CeX. When I visited one of their shops, I have to say I was completely hooked - I loved the idea. We could see it was a business with real potential. The more I looked at the franchise, the more I could say that this was the opportunity for me. It was something I could see myself enjoying.

'When I expressed my interest in committing to the concept, CeX gave me the opportunity to work in a store to give me a real idea of what it would be like. It's amazing how much I learned. It's a brilliant learning curve and I loved every minute of it. For a gadget person, working there was like being in seventh heaven!

'When I launch the business, CeX will be there from the word go - I've got full confidence in how I will be supported. There's a solid network between franchisees and franchisor and a great support structure. I feel that I've been made part of the CeX family. Cex has a pro-active team spirit and are going to make sure we have everything in place for a successful launch.'