Apollo Blinds celebrates its 50th anniversary

March 29, 2022

Apollo Blinds has kicked off a year of celebrations to mark its 50th birthday with a get-together of its franchisees in Glasgow.

The company – which is Britain’s biggest window blinds franchise – used its annual conference to formally mark its golden anniversary and unveiled plans to celebrate for the rest of the year. Apollo Blinds was founded in 1972 in Scotland, our founders started recruiting a network of distributors to sell the blinds they were manufacturing. Apollo Blinds moved to Glasgow, which coincided with a massive surge in the popularity of Venetian blinds.

And the business has not looked back since, according to Apollo Blinds’ Business Development Director Matt Thomas, who said that the franchise network has changed beyond recognition over the years – as the company celebrated at its first in-person conference since 2019.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Home Improvement Franchises in the UK

“Because of the restrictions around the Covid pandemic, this has been the first time we have been able to get everyone in the same place, and the opportunity to celebrate our 50th birthday has made it extra special,” said Matt.

“50 years is a big achievement for any business, and we’re proud that Apollo Blinds has stood the test of time, delivering great, high-quality made-to-measure window coverings that are installed by experts.

“A lot has changed over the last 50 years, but it’s reassuring to know that Apollo Blinds remains a brand that consumers trust and is also an attractive investment opportunity for people who want to run their own businesses as part of our network.”

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Matt noted that many franchises remain family affairs, with businesses being passed from one generation to another. Other established businesses have been sold on to new owners because they are profitable territories with a strong trading history.

He added that the business – which was one of the original members of the British Franchise Association (bfa) when it was formed in 1977 – has evolved over the years in two main ways. The first is that the range of products has expanded massively – the Apollo Blinds network now offers the widest collection of blinds, shutters, awnings and curtains in the UK. The second has been the growth of van-based franchises offering a free home consultation experience, which is proving as popular as ever with consumers who appreciate a local expert guiding them through the options.

Related: Apollo Blinds Franchise

“We’ve come a long way in 50 years, but our success is rooted in our principle of striving to be a retailer of superior-quality made-to-measure window coverings, which goes hand in hand with our installation service and is backed up a focus on excellent customer service,” Matt added.

“It was incredible to get all the franchisees back together again, and there is no better way to celebrate our 50th birthday than reflecting on all the reasons that have got us to this point – and also looking to the future of having brilliant franchisees who embody everything that’s good about Apollo Blinds.”

By Kirsty Hunt

Source: BDaily

Shuttercraft nominated for Leadership and Culture award at BFA HSBC British Franchise Awards

November 2, 2021

Shuttercraft has been shortlisted in the Leadership and Culture category of the bfa HSBC British Franchise Awards.

One of the UK’s largest shutter companies, Shuttercraft expertly install premium shutters and blinds that transform homes.

Known as the ‘Oscars’ of the franchising industry and set to take place on 30 November in Birmingham, the bfa HSBC British Franchise Awards evening is the flagship event in the franchising calendar.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Home Improvement Franchises in the UK

​​​​This year saw a record number of entries submitted across all categories, leading to an overall increase of nearly 30 per cent when compared to 2020. Despite what has been a challenging 18 months for most standalone businesses, the franchising sector has shown strength and resilience. As a result, many bfa members have reported their highest ever level of franchisee recruitment and one of their most successful years for profitability and business development.

Shuttercraft will be battling it out against two other franchise brands to take home the coveted Franchise Balance accolade.

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The Leadership and Culture category represents passion and commitment to caring for the wellbeing of staff and franchisees, while showcasing a supportive network.

Pip Wilkins, CEO of the British Franchising Association, congratulated Shuttercraft:

“Since its inception, Shuttercraft has followed three keywords that represent and support the brand – people, partnership and pride. The transformation of the business is incredible, with a clear shift from an operator van franchise to a managerial franchise model.

Related: Shuttercraft Franchise

“Shuttercraft’s commitment to their franchisees is clear, with monthly franchisee forums and an annual conference offering the opportunity to share ideas, relay successes and get guidance from other franchisees and head office’s team members.” Andrew Brattesani, Head of Franchising, HSBC, said: “Shuttercraft has clearly invested in technology, also placing an increased emphasis on marketing and offering more opportunities to engage employees to ensure that they are developing. Their dedication to current and new franchisees joining Shuttercraft is remarkable and we look forward to seeing the results.”

By Giorgia Francis

Source: BDaily

Decking specialist celebrates £4m sales milestone by laying out new franchise model

April 29, 2021

A Preston-based specialist in the design, supply and installation of maintenance-free decking and fencing is setting its sights on nationwide expansion after recording a 33% rise in sales.

Lakeland Verandahs, which was founded in 2008 by industry specialist Russell Milburn, has tapped into the growing desire from homeowners to make the most of their outside spaces by posting £4m of orders over the last twelve months – a £1m rise.

The company has now launched a new franchise offer to help it increase its geographic coverage to all parts of the UK and Ireland, with four territories already signed up and beginning to trade

These include representatives in East Anglia, Northern Ireland, Northern Scotland and West Mercia, with seven more areas currently in final negotiations.

“Lockdowns have seen people spend more time in their gardens and this has definitely led to greater investment in outside spaces and, in particular, our uPVC decking solutions,” explained Russell.

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“The growth in the North West made us think about how we could take the Lakeland Verandahs’ brand into more areas and the fastest way we can do this is through a franchise model that gives potential entrepreneurs all the tools and support they need to go from a start-up to a £1.2m business in just three years.”

He continued: “Potential franchisees will get a dedicated territory to trade in, use of an established brand, a full tool package, comprehensive training, immediate access to consumer finance and the opportunity to tap into hugely successful lead generation capabilities. We’ll even secure a liveried van and pay the deposit to get the individual started.

“In total, we’re looking for 35 to 40 different operations. With four up and running and seven close to completion, we’re six months ahead of schedule.”

Lakeland Verandahs’ decking, fencing and balustrades are incredibly low maintenance and, as a result, its systems are durable, non-slip, safe and come with a 10-year warranty.

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Primarily aimed at the residential marketplace, the modern, natural look uPVC decking enhances any garden or patio area, with clients able to customise the design to make the most of their outdoor space.

This includes contemporary and traditional solutions, nine different colours and a host of wood-effect imprints.

“We’ve spent a lot of time capturing what makes our business special and transferring it into the franchise model,” added Greg Kane, Director of Lakeland Verandahs Franchising and owner of Wakefield-based Conservatory Outlet.

“Everyone who signs up will get an extensive induction and training sessions on how to install the product at our HQ in Preston and then access to dedicated training and sales specialists for technical questions, lead generation and day-to-day support.

“You don’t need to be an industry specialist either…we just want an individual who wants to achieve and wants the freedom to be their own boss.”

He concluded: “We initially projected sales of £1.2m for each franchise holder by year three, but, the way the digital lead generation is going, we believe this could be achieved within the first twelve months. That’s a really good business opportunity.”

By Russ Cockburn

Source: BDaily

Oltco named to franchise top 100

January 7, 2021

Newquay-based resin bound driveway company Oltco has been named as one of the UK’s top franchise opportunities.

From hundreds of entries across every sector, the business has been ranked 91st overall in the Elite Franchise Top 100 (EF100).

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Oltco’s co-director, Johnny Pearce, said: “As a Cornwall-based business, we are so proud to have been recognised as one of the top 100 franchises in the UK and to be surrounded by some amazing companies and businesses.

“This is the first time we have entered and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results.”

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Fellow co-director, Tom Stringer, added: “To be announced as one of the top 100 franchises in the UK is a huge achievement for us and one that tops off a difficult and trying year. As a business, we have learnt so much from the past year alone, we have had to adapt and change the way we work and ensure that all of our franchisees feel supported during these difficult times.

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“Despite the difficult year, our franchise network has continued to keep growing, launching 16 new franchise areas since January 2020.”

Source: Business Cornwall

Dream Doors Stoke achieves a record-breaking monthly turnover of more than £222,000

November 16, 2020

A family-run Dream Doors franchise for Stoke has achieved the highest monthly turnover for a showroom of £222,566, setting a new company record for the kitchen makeover brand.

Allan James, a former engineer and the Dream Doors franchisee, employs five members of his family, sons Glyn (showroom manager) and Martin (a fitter) and his nephew Kelvin Fradley (sales director), along with Fradley’s daughter Joy Fell (showroom administrator) and James’ nephew by marriage Richard Ridgeway (a fitter).

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Commenting on their achievement, Fradley said: “When you get a good month like September there are a number of factors involved, which always includes a bit of luck, but there’s no magic button to push. We do the same things week in and week out and you just have some weeks where it really clicks into place – we just happen to have had three or four weeks like that in a row.

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“It’s all a team effort and I’m of the belief that there’s no such thing as a duff lead; if it’s potentially an order for £600 or £6,000, it doesn’t matter, because you never know what that sale will turn into until you go and talk to the customer. I think being a family business is our biggest strength and we do our best to support each other.”

Related: Dream Doors Franchise

The previous record for the highest monthly turnover in the Dream Doors network was £213,000 achieved by its Oxford showroom in June 2014. Dream Doors is looking for more franchisees to join its network and has some territories available particularly in the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Scotland.

Source: Franchise World

Retired police officer’s roadmap to success with Dream Doors

October 14, 2020

Husband and wife team Jon and Hilary Brown, a retired police officer and dental hygienist respectively, found their roadmap to business success by joining the kitchen makeover company, Dream Doors.

The couple who launched their kitchen showroom in West Nottingham after Jon retired from his role with Leicestershire Police, share their experience, as Jon explains: “I’m very lucky to have achieved everything I wanted to achieve in the service and I was able to retire after serving for 30 years.

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“But the simple fact was that at 48 years old I was too young not to do something else. I had always done a lot of building renovation work in the past and I knew when I was retiring that was what I was going to do in my next role.

“I wanted to run a business where the offering was unique, and I kept coming back to this core idea of kitchen refurbishment work.

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“Hilary and I spent a lot of time looking at different franchises but we chose Dream Doors for the reason that you don’t buy into a business’s immediate success; you buy a roadmap and the tools you need to get you there.

“I felt Dream Doors offered the best roadmap and that was very appealing. Hilary and I wanted to do something for ourselves and we wanted to build a business that was financially successful. We’re not just selling kitchens; we’re solving kitchen problems.”

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Hilary, who was a dental hygienist for 30 years before joining the franchise, said: “For me joining Dream Doors helped us to get the home/work balance right. We’ve been following the business model religiously and we’ve really reaped the rewards of that.”

Dream Doors replaces kitchen doors, drawers and worktops to breathe new life into tired kitchens, as well as offering full kitchen refits. The company is currently looking to recruit further franchisees for its remaining UK territories.

Source: Franchise World

Shuttercraft nominated for major franchising award

August 5, 2020

Shuttercraft has been shortlisted in the Business Transformation category at the bfa HSBC British Franchise Awards, to be held at the Vox, Birmingham, on November 30.

Shuttercraft is a business that imports and sells products via the brand S:CRAFT to both trade partners and franchise partners across the UK. The products sold are Plantation Shutters and Blinds. The franchises across the UK provide a survey, supply and fit service and only sell S:CRAFT products to their customers. Shuttercraft generates the leads for its franchises centrally – supported by local advertising.

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“The team have worked so hard this last 18 months, pushing boundaries, stepping out of their comfort zones, and striving for change in order to provide the very best service to and for our network. Being shortlisted for the Business Transformation award, amongst such fantastic other entries, has been a massive recognition of the team’s dedication to the development of the franchise. We are genuinely rather overwhelmed to have reached this stage,” said Lisa Stead, Franchise Manager at Shuttercraft.

The awards evening is the flagship event in the franchising calendar and getting a nomination in itself is an achievement, proving the business works ethically and in the best interests of franchisees and staff, beating many other franchise systems who also entered.

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Pip Wilkins QFP, CEO of the British Franchising Association, congratulated the shutters and blinds company:

“The transformation of this business sits in its franchise type, with a clear shift from an operator van franchise to a managerial franchise model. Formerly, it was very difficult for franchisees to successfully scale up the business. Since the new model was launched, 12 new franchisees have joined the network and feedback shows that the change has transformed the business.”

Related: Shuttercraft Franchise

Andrew Brattesani, Head of Franchising, HSBC, said:

“In order to change the franchise structure, the entire model was overhauled. There is now more focus on bespoke technology, an increase in marketing, a larger head office and more opportunities to engage as a network. These are just some of the changes in the past two years.”

Shuttercraft will go head-to-head against two other franchise systems in November.

By Martin Stone

Source: BDaily

Oltco Colchester helps recycle 30 million plastic straws

April 20, 2020

ECO-CONSCIOUS home improvers in Colchester have helped recycle the equivalent of 30 million plastic straws… by having their driveways resurfaced.

Oltco Colchester has been leading the way in the implementation of the firm’s Recycle Bound technology, which uses waste plastic to create brand-spanking new resin driveways for customers up and down the country.

Since the technology launched a year ago, it has recycled the equivalent of 30 million plastic straws nationwide.

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Liam Dorian launched the Colchester franchise of the firm last summer and has since installed the technology for customers in Colchester and Tendring.

He said: “Recycle Bound has been hugely successful and we are grateful for all the individuals, and companies based in Colchester, who have come on board in a bid to help us tackle the global issue of plastic waste.

“We are proud to have already installed Recycle Bound in areas including Colchester, Tiptree and Clacton.”

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The Recycle Bound product took two years to develop and uses the equivalent of 3,000 plastic straws over each square metre of driveway, meaning on a standard 50 square metre drive, the equivalent of 150,000 plastic straws would be recycled in the process.

It is already winning serious praise in the environmentally-friendly business world, including being named runner up for Recycled Product of the Year in the National Recycling Awards.

Commercial firms are now taking notice and it has been used on large scale projects such as hotels and visitor attractions across the country.

Related: Oltco Franchise

Tom Stringer, Oltco’s co-director, said: “We have been thrilled by the response to Recycle Bound.

“Every member of our team has fully embraced it and it has proved hugely popular with our customers, both residential and commercial.

“The number of customers who are asking for it to be used on their driveways, patios and paths is growing all the time.”

He added: “It is a totally awesome product which is hard wearing and will last for years and helps rid the world of some of the plastic waste.”

By Robbie Bryson

Source: Essex County Standard

Just Shutters exceeds £25m in sales milestone

February 21, 2020

Just Shutters, the window shutter company with 19 franchisees, reports that last year it had its highest sales of £27.4m.

The company’s average customer order was for six square metres of window coverings and during the year almost 16,000 sales orders were taken by its network.

Just Shutters, founded in Southbourne, Dorset by Chris Rocker in 2006, says that over 94,000 square metres of the UK is now covered in its plantation shutters, which are designed and installed by the company.

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Rocker, who saw sales at the company’s headquarters of over £3m, commented: “I am so proud of how far Just Shutters has come, I have a true passion for the shutter industry and in 2006 I saw a gap in the market for high quality shutters. Since then the progression of the company has been overwhelming.

“Our franchisees are true reflection of our success and their commitment to the Just Shutter ethos is unprecedented. We pride ourselves on our outstanding customer service, from the first consultation, to the way the designers leave your home. We guarantee a smooth and efficient installation from start to finish.

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“We now not only offer high quality classic louvre plantation shutters, but we have designed beautiful coloured shutters, inspired by the British coast, as well as revolutionary automated shutters, allowing our customers to have shutters on even the hardest to reach windows.”

Andrew Cook, owner of the South West franchise also celebrating sales of £3m, said: “When I relocated to Exeter from Hemel Hempstead in 2011, I was unsure of what the future may hold, however, with Just Shutters backing and a little bit of determination, I am so proud of how Exeter Just Shutters has developed, and wow, Just Shutters hitting over £25m, what an achievement.”

Related: Just Shutters Franchise

Just Shutters offer the complete range of both solid wooden shutters and louvred plantation shutters for all window shapes and sizes. It also offers custom made shutters for glass roofs and unusual window shapes such as those found in conservatories. The company adds that despite its growth, its main objective is still its commitment to customers, which has seen it gain 5-star customer reviews.

Source: Franchise World

Mr. Electric helps DPD become more sustainable

December 24, 2019

The electrical service brand, Mr. Electric, has assisted the UK parcel delivery company DPD with the roll-out of its fleet of electric vehicle (EV) delivery vans in Cornwall by installing home vehicle charging points for two DPD delivery drivers.

From Newquay down to St Austell, the two drivers, Nick Lott and Simon Penter have both switched from a diesel van to a 100 per cent electric van that has resulted in reduced running costs, whilst also enabling them to become a more sustainable and efficient business.

The pair, equipped with their new Nissan e-NV200 vans, needed an affordable and user-friendly EV charging point to enable them to fulfil daily deliveries from a single fast charge, which would charge their vans whilst they slept.

As a government-approved installer of electric chargepoints, Mr. Electric was appointed by the DPD drivers to carry out the work and is now assisting both drivers to apply for a grant under the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, where they can each receive up to £500 off the cost of purchasing and installing their home charging point.

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Lott commented: “I was so impressed with Mr. Electric from the outset and have already referred the business to both colleagues and friends, which is testament to the work they carried out for me.

“The team provided a quality service, from the initial site survey to understanding my requirements and they continue to show their high levels of knowledge and expertise in the EV market.

“I have become more environmentally and economically minded with my new EV van and have taken advantage of a new off-peak electricity tariff to help reduce the costs even further. Being able to charge my van easily and quickly at home is also essential for my business.”

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Green transport technology

Steve Barlow, director of Mr. Electric Cornwall, said: “Nick strongly believes we have a corporate social responsibility towards the environment to be zero- emissions by 2050 and fully supports the growing demand for sustainable green transport technology.

Barlow added: “We have seen an increase in demand for EV charging points in Cornwall over the past six months, with our sales having doubled and enquiries quadrupled.

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“It is great to see that many more consumers and businesses are embracing these emerging technologies and are looking for new ways to reduce rising fuel bills and reduce their carbon footprint.”

As OLEV approved, Mr. Electric franchisees ensure that electric vehicle chargepoints are installed safe and secure for its commercial and domestic customers. The company adds that it is also a trusted partner for EO Charging and Rolec, who both offer a comprehensive product range that is compatible with leading motor manufacturers’ EVs.

Source: Franchise World