Invest in a venture that can beat the credit crunch

Despite the recession business is going well for CeX franchisee Simon Roberts who is now enjoying a better work/life balance and salary

With many Britons feeling the credit pinch, sales of home entertainment goods such as DVDs and video games have increased by four per cent as people stay at home in a bid to save money. In fact, the Entertainment Retailers Association has confirmed that 485.8 million items were sold in 2008. For second hand entertainment and electronic goods retailer CeX, this increase in sales is reflected in the success of its franchise network.

CeX franchise owner Simon Roberts is a prime example. Since the launch of his North Wales franchise nine months ago, Simon has experienced a steady stream of business thanks to the popularity of the items he sells and the resilient nature of his business model. CeX allows customers to buy, sell and exchange second hand goods from seven main product lines: DVDs, video games, computing, electronics, mobile phones, vision and music CDs. Simon is already on target to achieve a first year turnover in excess of £1 million and plans to open a second store by the end of 2009.

'Before becoming a CeX franchisee I operated a petrol station,' reflects Simon. 'I decided to hand back the petrol station because I was fed up with working unsociable hours. I had been my own boss for the last 14 years, so becoming an employee again was out of the question. I wanted to invest in a venture with unlimited earning potential and liked the thought of having access to ongoing support and training so investing in a franchise was the best way for me to operate my own business again.'

An advert for CeX caught Simon's eye in The Franchise Magazine. 'CeX appealed because of its professional brand image. Although it has only been franchising for three years, it has been in operation for over 16 years, so I knew the concept has been tried and tested thoroughly. I also liked the fact CeX has limited competition, full IT support, bespoke epos, pricing, stock and financial management systems.'

After meeting with CeX Franchise Manager Hugh Man at a CeX franchised store, Simon shadowed an existing Owner/Manager for three days to experience the day-to-day life of running a CeX franchise and came away feeling positive.

'Once I completed an application form and paid a deposit I was placed on a comprehensive training course where I was able to learn the CeX concept, Epos technical system and product lines inside out,' he recalls. 'In terms of support, CeX gave me pre-opening, launch and post opening support. If I ever have a problem I know I can contact my Regional Franchise Manager, another franchise owner or head office at any point for advice and guidance.

'Since becoming a CeX franchise owner my work/life balance has greatly improved. Now I work sociable hours and I am able to drop my kids off at school in the morning, which I enjoy doing. The other benefit of becoming a franchisee is my much improved earnings.

'Business is going well, especially in the current economic climate, because our customers are able to exchange unwanted electronic or entertainment goods for ones that they want or cash instead. Customers can also upgrade their mobile phone, buy a new DVD or video game without breaking the bank as we stock good quality, second hand products so people can continue to enjoy home entertainment on a tighter budget.'

Interview by Jess Sturman