Passionate about Retail

To mark the national launch of Rohan's retail franchise opportunity, their franchise consultants Gordon Patterson and Gary Rigby pose some questions to the company's Retail Director Ian Palmer

Q: How long has Rohan been trading?
Ian Palmer (pictured, right):
The company was started in 1972. In 1983 the first Rohan store opened in Preston. We currently have 40 locations across the UK.

Q: Why has Rohan decided to make franchising an important part of its further expansion plan?
IP: "We have huge expansion plans for Rohan because of the impact that our existing franchise owners have had. Their partnership with us has helped us to realise the role franchising can play in helping Rohan to grow and more quickly capture the market."

Q: What makes the Rohan brand distinctive in the outdoor clothing retail marketplace?
IP: Firstly, it's our product. Every single item of clothing is designed by us, manufactured to our standards and sold only by us. Secondly, it's our customer loyalty. Our customers are hugely loyal to our products due to their incredible longevity. Thirdly, it's our customer service. No other shop on the high street offers an unlimited guarantee on its products. We do - at any stage if a Rohan product fails the customer can bring it back for a discount, refund or exchange.

Q. How does the concept allow franchise owners to operate with no money tied up in stock?
IP: We mail our catalogue to customers twice a year and we know what products will sell as a result. By maintaining control over the stock in each store we make sure each store is properly stocked with the items we are promoting. As a result our franchises owners have no responsibility to order, manage or pay for their stock. Their till tells our warehouse when an item is sold the warehouse picks a replacement item and the shop gets the new item delivered within two days (except on Sundays).

Q: What is provided in the franchise package?
IP: We will assist in finding a suitable site and have already targeted 20 towns where we are seeking franchise owners. We have extensive expertise in judging a premises on footfall and competition analysis and can assist in lease negotiation, unit set up and installing the merchandising system.

Our franchise owners receive a two week training programme, mostly conducted in an existing store, which will cover everything involved in the day-to-day running of a Rohan retail operation. All till software, stock information, sales data and email communications systems are available to every franchise owner. On an ongoing basis we support all stores through our area managers, who provide onsite assistance where needed in staff training, merchandising and any other queries that may arise.

Q: What kind of person are you looking for to become a franchise owner?
IP: We are now launching on a very aggressive growth programme driven by franchising and our fantastically loyal customer base. We need people who are passionate about retail and want to run, work in and own their own shop. They should enjoy the outdoor lifestyle (walking, hiking, climbing, etc.) and should eventually become as passionate about our product as our customers are.