Irish franchise-based operation, Sliderobes, is celebrating the opening of its 10th British franchise, following the opening of a string of showrooms over the past year.

Just two years ago, the company, which designs, custom builds and fits individually tailor-made storage solutions, had only one showroom in England. It recognised growth potential in Britain following its success over the last 20 years in Ireland, where it has a further 10 showrooms.

Over the past year, new Sliderobes franchises have opened on the Wirral, in Basildon, Edinburgh and Solihull and the next, in Hull is due to open in October 2005. Further openings are planned across Britain in 2006.

Rodney Jess, national field sales manager of Sliderobes, said, 'It's been a terrifically exciting year for us. We've seen our business in the UK really start to take off and that is very encouraging. Enquiries are at a record high, as the Sliderobes name becomes better known.

'But expansion is not something that we want to rush at, because we believe it is important that we get the right franchisees on board,' he said. 'It's better for us to take the time to do the market research, to establish the right locations and make sure that our new franchisees and their employees receive all the training that they need. That normally involves them spending up to a couple of weeks at our head office in Belfast.'

Araf Aslam, who is Sliderobes newest franchisee, and opened a large showroom in Solihull in late summer 2005, said, 'I'd always wanted to run my own business. When I started looking at franchises, there were many I could discount straight away. I didn't want to be in the food industry and I wanted something that genuinely challenged me. 'It's easy to set up a franchise where all you do is to buy in a product and sell it on. But a business where we create, manufacture and fit the product from start to finish appealed to me much more. Manufacturing is part of our local culture in the West Midlands, and I value that. Quite probably the Sliderobes' proposition is unique, in that it's a combination of manufacturing and retail all on the one site. That's a real business!'