CeX: A franchise with its finger on the pulse

The rapid development of new technology is driving the growing success of CeX - the one-stop shop for gadget lovers. Adam Browning reports.

Providing an essential outlet for those who wish to keep their finger on the pulse, CeX (Complete entertainment Exchange) is becoming a valuable player in the ever-evolving home entertainment and technology sector. Whether buying customers' superseded goods or selling the latest cutting-edge products at an affordable price, CeX gives its customers the best of both worlds.

CeX specialises in five main product lines, named 'Super Categories': Videogames, DVDs, Computing, Electronics and Mobile Phones. With a 12-month warranty provided with all second-hand goods, customers are able to make an affordable purchase with confidence. The further attraction to customers is that CeX enables them to exchange their unwanted or used goods for either cash or something they do want.

Franchise Director Hugh Man points to a huge potential market for CeX: 'Upgrading to keep ahead is paramount for technology buffs and this is not only true in the fast moving world of computers. DVD has entered the living room faster than any previous device and the videogame business is now so huge, its estimated value is higher than any other sector in the entertainment industry. As well as this, our mobile phone business continues to grow as, after all, who doesn't have a mobile phone? For these reasons, we currently store the buy and sell prices of over 50,000 lines. All of these innovations provide compelling motives for consumers to sell their older technology to CeX'

Founded in 1992, CeX is now embarking on a nationwide franchise development programme and is aiming to achieve national coverage within five years. 'We now have 25 locations operating (23 of which are company-owned), and our Croyden franchisee is also about to open the doors of his second store,' Hugh reveals. 'With continued growth in the markets we trade in, boosted by the rapid turnaround of new technology and launch of new platforms such as the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, our business model is proving extremely popular and we've had hundreds of enquiries from potential franchisees.'

With 14 years of retail experience Hugh states that CeX aims to establish over 100 stores within the next five years. Currently rolling out its proven business model across the UK, CeX is seeking determined individuals who wish to turn their motivation into success on the high street: 'Through franchising we aim to achieve national coverage, making our goods and services widely available and the CeX name synonymous with affordable technology.'

One such individual is Kasim Ali who, after working as CeX Stock Control Manager for seven years, became the first franchisee: 'The business model is virtually recession-proof,' Kasim explains. '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.'

Franchisees will benefit from CeX's knowledge and experience of the marketplace such as optimal buying and selling prices and product supply and demand curves, which are essential to business success and avoiding stock shortages or surpluses. Ongoing support is provided by the 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 a high-tech website, customers can check real-time product availability or obtain an estimate for an items 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.

'The CeX website works 24 hours a day for me and lists the prices and products I have in stock,' Kasim explains. '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 is there when I need help.'

CeX is searching for business minded people who love gadgets to take part in its nationwide store roll-out as franchisees. '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. 'This is a business that works when the economy is booming and even better when it is less buoyant.'

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.'