The benefits are endless

Just six years after the launch of his Granite Transformations franchise, Gavin Whitaker is enjoying a £1 million turnover and a thriving business

With more British homeowners staying put and renovating their properties instead of moving house, home improvement franchises like Granite Transformations are flourishing. In January alone, a time when many Britons are saving money after splashing out on the Christmas festivities, Granite Transformations franchisees have reported record sales figures, with Tunbridge Wells-based franchise owner Gavin Whitaker's business generating £132,892 - the highest in the franchise's history.

Granite Transformations CEO'Andrea Di Giuseppe says: 'While a lot of our competitors locally and globally are falling victim to the economic downturn, we have experienced steady growth and expect that trend to continue throughout 2009. I have long said that the UK was the greatest untapped resource we have and now our franchisees are starting to prove it!'

Established in Australia in 1996, kitchen facelift franchise Granite Transformations came to the UK in 2002. To date Granite Transformations has 170 franchisees operating across nine countries worldwide, 20 of which operate in the UK. Andrea says: 'We are looking to recruit enthusiastic and committed prospective franchisees to take over the remaining exclusive UK territories. While a background in sales and people management is not essential as full training is provided, it would be beneficial.

Granite Transformations specialises in worktops that are made out of granite, glass, quartz or mosaic surfaces. These are fitted on top of an existing worktop to give a worn out kitchen a new look without the mess and disruption of having a new kitchen fitted as the job can be completed in just one day. Other products in its range are splash backs, vanities, shower recesses, floors, walls and more. 'Granite Transformations' products are used by homeowners, commercial and domestic interior designers, architects, builders and developers worldwide,' enthuses Andrea. 'All of our products are made to last and have a lifetime warranty. They have been specially designed to withstand heat, are stain, impact and scratch resistant and are available in over 55 colours.'

Over a six year period franchise owner Gavin (pictured right) has built up his business to a £1 million annual turnover. He has two showrooms - one in Tunbridge Wells and a satellite showroom in Sidcup, plus a few floating sales assistants in garden centres throughout his territory. On average his business fits 40 worktops a month.

'Six years ago my kitchen needed a facelift,' recalls Gavin. 'However, I did not want to completely gut my kitchen or go without a kitchen while the work was done. I had heard of Granite Transformations through a friend and was intrigued by the unique nature of the product so decided to give them a call. I was really impressed by the professional finish and speed in which they completed the job. At the time I was fed up with my role in the IT industry and could see myself running a business like this so decided to ask for more information on the franchise package.

'For the first six months I was the only UK franchise owner, however over time the franchise network and my client base have grown through word of mouth recommendations from customers, family and friends. My role as the franchise owner is to sell the product and oversee the development of the business, while I leave my professional fitters to get on with the job at hand.

'Having the showrooms has really pushed sales as they act as a one-stop shop with everything required to freshen up a dull kitchen all under one roof. Here customers can see examples of finished products, select a colour, style and any extras such as a new hob or sink to complete the look.'

Gavin enjoys running his business and is eager to continue expanding: 'The benefits of running a Granite Transformations franchise are endless, there is no hard selling involved because the product sells itself and appeals to a wide target group - from property developers when the housing market is good, to families or the over 50s looking to update their home for a fraction of the price to make their retirement more comfortable. The business has good cash flow and has also improved my lifestyle, as I am now able to work the hours I want when I want.'

Granite Transformations Chief Operating Officer (Europe) Danny Hanlon reflects: 'I'm very pleased to see that some investments are still attracting high interest with many of our franchise owners reporting breaking sales figures for the beginning of this year, certainly our strongest start since the inception of our UK operation. We have some exciting plans for 2009 and have already implemented a number of new innovative schemes to fuel growth opportunities.

'We'll also be introducing a commercial sales programme to help provide additional revenue streams for our franchisees - just one of the many new exciting developments which we'll be rolling out. We're looking for highly motivated, dynamic sales people that share our passion for the business.'

Reported by Jess Sturman