O2: Join a market leader

Rachel Spaul discovers what the O2 high street retail franchise has to offer

With the launch of its franchise programme, O2 aims to build one of the largest mobile telecommunications retail portfolios in the UK and confirm its position as one of the leading providers of mobile services.

The mobile phone market is fast-paced, competitive and driven by consumer desire for good customer service and top products for the best price. 'Buying a mobile phone can be a complicated decision,' points out Mark Stansfeld, O2 Sales Director. 'It is important that customers can buy a mobile phone in an environment where they feel supported, can ask questions, browse, and find out about forthcoming products and services.

'By increasing our store footprint we want to be able to offer all customers across the UK this opportunity regardless of location. Customer loyalty is fragile and the winners in the UK market will be those who keep and inspire their customers better than anyone else.'

Individuals with some retail experience, not necessarily in mobile phones, who share in O2's service ethic, are being offered the opportunity to trade under the O2 brand in a retail outlet. By expanding the network of stores through franchising the company aims to combine the best of the owner-operator strengths of the franchisee with the strengths of O2's brand, systems, services and products, including the collective benefits of its own brand marketing and advertising programme. 'We expect our combined company-owned and franchised network to become one of the largest mobile telecommunications retail portfolios in the UK,' states Mark.

O2 has already been successful in Germany, where it has over 300 franchise and partner outlets. The O2 franchise team, whose focus will be to facilitate optimum performance and maintain the standards so critical to achieving O2 brand values, will provide ongoing support for franchisees.

The first franchisee Daniel Fountain, an O2 employee for five years, has opened his store in Rotherham. He relates: 'There is currently a high level of competition among mobile operators on the high street so bringing the strong O2 brand, fantastic customer service and great deals will be a great thing for the people of Rotherham. My focus will be on providing first-rate customer service with a local feel so that my store stands out. I'll be drawing upon the strengths of O2's brand, systems, services and products, and my knowledge of and passion for the region, to create an unrivalled shopping experience.'

All proposed franchise outlets will complement existing O2 retail stores and will not affect any current stores, or any that are planned under the existing expansion programme. 'O2 is one of the most successful network operators in the UK,' Mark asserts. 'We have 92 per cent brand awareness among our target customer group. Across our current 309 UK stores, we have a track record of turning our brand strength into sales. 'We believe franchising offers an incredibly exciting opportunity for customer focused individuals to engage with the O2 brand and the dynamic mobile market.'