Friends give a little CeXtra

Joining forces to create a CeX franchise proved a winning formula for two partnerships. Zubair Khatri and Javid Rasul jointly own a Birmingham CeX store while Trevor Finlay and Stuart Dixon formed a partnership to run a chain of stores in Northern Ireland. Jane Denny reports

Zubair Khatri and Javid Rasul could hardly have come from more diverse professions, but this hasn’t prevented them forging a successful business relationship under the Complete entertainment eXchange brand. Zubair, who has run his own IT business for a number of years, said he wanted to do something different and looked to former local area health authority officer Javid for inspiration. Javid, a CeX franchise owner for several years, already had a couple of stores when the opportunity to start another with Zubair in Erdington, Birmingham, presented itself. “I already run a couple of CeX stores and the opportunity to diversify and share in the success with my friend seemed to too good an opportunity to miss,” Javid comments. Zubair says: “I’ve always wanted to run my own retail business. I eventually realised that I not only wanted a complete change in my working life but that I wanted to create a legacy for my family. “Following an existing established and successful franchise model seemed a logical route for me. With my friend Javid already successfully running a couple of CeX stores, it seemed an easy decision. I had always fancied running my own retail business,” continues Zubair. Although the pair had some savings of their own to invest they were able to secure further funding with the help of CeX. They compiled a dynamic business plan, comprising persuasive and compelling information that only a franchisor with experience can provide. The upshot was that they were able to secure adequate funding.

As to the ease of their endeavour, they respond with a resounding “pretty straight-forward”.
Zubair adds: “Throughout the process, CeX has been very helpful. CeX gave me a carefully-compiled training plan and Operations Manual. I’ve been assessed throughout the process to ensure that I have the necessary skills and management competencies to manage a large business. I expect to manage at least 10 staff and have a large business turnover. “Becoming a CeX Franchisee is not an easy task. While the rewards are considerable, there is a significant personal commitment required in order to undertake the training. It requires a lot of time commitment. “While I’ve had lots of support, it’s a complex process to acquire a high street retail business property lease. CeX managed the whole process for me and provided what’s known as a ‘turn-key’ operation.”
A CeX franchise may require significant commitment but what comes back makes it worth it. CeX helped project manage the whole lease negotiation and refurbishment process for Zubair and Javid’s new store.

“I feel I’m part of a big ‘family’,” Zubair adds. “CeX has been very welcoming and has given ourselves and my staff a great deal of support.” Aside from CeX’s hands-on supportive approach to the business and finance aspect of their franchise, the staff who began their new jobs the day Erdington saw its first CeX open were also trained to the high standard seen across the CeX network. However, while CeX are prepared to walk alongside new franchise owners to ensure their success, the onus remains on the franchise owner to build up a good knowledge of the sector in which they wish to operate. Zubair continues: “Make sure you do plenty of research. It was important for me to consider how much ongoing support I would get. “CeX provides ongoing local operational management support which will help us to run the business in line with the brand’s standards, and perhaps most importantly, CeX is entirely committed to helping me to maintain my profitability.”

Trevor and Stuart’s first CeX store opened in 2008 and they now manage three stores in total, one in Derry, another in Newry and now Bangor.
Their unstoppable claim to outlets in CeX’s northern Irish territory is, to the seemingly nonchalant pair, no more than a “steady growth” they take in their stride. CeX agrees – one store, to two stores then three is the logical progression for their new recruits. The franchisor, which currently has more than 100 franchised stores, is as keen to see franchise owners expand and become multiple franchise owners as it is to encourage its employed store managers to become self-employed entrepreneurs. Stuart, once CeX’s youngest franchise owner, was previously a Store Manager, who was able to develop his understanding of the needs of the business in an employed position before taking the plunge as an owner.

Stuart recalls: “Being able to become a franchisee within the business I have grown up in has been a great opportunity for me. I had always wanted to work for myself.” His business partner Trevor, who has worked in several businesses in his lifetime including a family-run supermarket, said his appreciation of how difficult it can be to run a profitable business meant he was already well-placed to build their first store into a chain. He adds: “My experience in retail businesses meant I could see the benefit of the structure CeX has within its business model. It appealed to me.”

The pair raised bank finance by careful business planning, supplementing existing savings with help and support from their bank. They both believe CeX approach to financing has been a boon. Trevor says: “CeX has helped by ensuring the banks have a solid understanding of the way the brand works.”
The guidance CeX has provided to the nation’s banks about its operations has been reiterated across its support network and processes. CeX provides very hands on support for its new franchise owners, but its established franchise owners also benefit from a close relationship. Stuart comments: “Despite being well established, we have ongoing operational support from our local operations manager, which is vital to ensuring our businesses continue to develop and grow. “In retailing every day brings new challenges and we could not do things as successfully on our own,” he explains.

Times are far from easy for the electronic goods recycling duo, Ireland is still very much in recovery mode following the recessions. Trevor comments: “The changing economic situation here in Northern Ireland is a challenge. The impact of the decline in cross border trade from the Irish Republic has had a detrimental effect on many retailers in recent times.” However, despite this, Trevor and Stuart are optimistic and raring to go. “CeX’s model continues to grow successfully and it is now growing in Ireland too which can only help things further in the future. We love the business and we have confidence in it.” The partners absolutely love the independence that running their own business has given them but they are mindful that each new step needs to be thoroughly thought through if they are to continue to thrive.

Stuart concludes: “Understand what you are planning to do and talk it through with friends or respected business people who can give you some impartial advice. Talk to some of the existing franchisees and consider whether you may fit-in.