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The new owner of Signarama UK has spoken of his ambitious growth plans for the brand, which he hopes to put back on the map “by getting back to basics”.

Canadian entrepreneur Anas Saltaji, master licensee for Signarama Canada, acquired the signs and graphics franchise last summer and has started work on boosting the company’s fortunes after “a slow few years in the UK”.

“The opportunity to acquire the business came up last year. I bought the business directly from the brand owner, Signarama Incorporated,” said Saltaji.

“The previous franchise owner in the UK wanted to focus on her family. She had a new-born and that was her priority.

“We thought it would be exciting to help the franchisees in the UK to regain their confidence and to rebuild the brand to what it once was.”

Saltaji has nearly doubled the Canadian Signarama network from 25 to 49 locations since he took over the reins in 2012.

He believes the UK, which at its peak had more than 40 Signarama locations, still holds massive potential and said his plan to replicate his success overseas will centre initially around the 10 remaining UK franchisees, whose sales he hopes to help double over the next five years.

“My intention is to get our existing franchisees to want to expand into new territories,” he said.

“They will be the most successful because they’ve done it, they know the ups and downs and they know the business really well. So I’m going to make it extremely easy for them to expand into new markets.”

Saltaji is ultimately aiming to build the Signarama UK network to 100 units within the next 10 years.

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“Given the market size in the UK, we would potentially have successful locations anywhere we put them.

“The Signarama brand makes money. It’s also a really engaging industry; every job is unique. Technologies, materials and their application are constantly evolving. It’s very exciting.”

On a personal level, long-term Saltaji is planning to relocate his family to split his time between both Canada and the UK.

“My wife and children will come too, and we’ll build a life here, as we have in Canada. It’s important to demonstrate my commitment to the UK franchise and all those who choose to join us.

“I’m not interested in quick fixes or making a quick buck. I want franchisees to know me, to trust me and feel that I’m passionate about their success; I can’t do that remotely.”

The UK’s existing Signarama franchisees typically employ four to five staff each and run HP Latex printers “due to their excellent quality, brilliant colour and eco-friendliness”, according to Saltaji, who said the franchisees are supportive of his growth strategy.

“We had a national meeting a few weeks ago, and I think we all came away feeling positive afterwards. Anas shared his intentions and his goals for the UK and, having shared his first five-year plan with us, I certainly feel confident,” said Harrogate franchisee Mark Squires.

Milton Keynes franchisee Tracy Clark added: “I welcome the entry of someone like Anas to the brand; there’s no denying the positive impact that his experience, both in franchising and the signage industry, will bring to the network. He knows the model, understands the business and has a proven history of growth and success.”

A seven-strong team of Canadian-based support staff, dedicated to marketing, finance, product and business development, will also work with and support the UK franchisees, alongside two support staff based in the UK.

Signarama was established in 1986 and currently has 900 franchisees in 60 countries.

By Richard Stuart-Turner

Source: Print Week

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