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Happy 10th Anniversary to Ableworld

A look back at Ableworld’s first ten years and its outlook for the future:

The retail mobility sector is still relatively in its infancy. Many ventures have come and gone or at best struggled along. For a firm not only to survive but to expand every year is rare and that is what makes Ableworld’s achievement of ten years growth all the more noteworthy.

When Mike Williams opened the first Ableworld store in 2001 it was a different world with far fewer quality suppliers and products than there are today. Mike recalls “When we first started out a lot of the products were poorly packaged and most did not even have barcodes. Things have changed a lot in the last ten years as suppliers have improved their range and packaging of products.”

So what else has changed? More firms have come into the industry and some consolidation has been attempted in the retail sector but Ableworld, with 12 outlets, is still one of the biggest. Paul Boniface, Franchise Director, sees franchising as a logical progression in the development of the sector and adds “We launched our franchising operation last year and are proud to be the only mobility retailer to be recognised by the bfa (British Franchise Association)”. Our goal of growing the business via franchised outlets is going according to plan and we expect to have reached our target of 2-3 franchises by the end of the year”.

On the franchise side of the business the management at Ableworld told us they were “delighted that after another good year (turnover up 30%) our franchise partners at Ableworld Birkenhead have decided to renew for another five years and expand their current franchise to include the ‘stairlift’ option.”

To keep up with all this growth and to prepare for future growth Ableworld restructured its Head Office last year and took on more staff to support the needs of the firm and its franchisees and customers.

Founder and Managing Director, Mike Williams, commendted “Launching the Ableworld brand as a fully-fledged franchise and getting bfa membership last year was a highpoint. I’m also very pleased that we have grown to be a significant player in the retail sector creating much needed employment, especially at the present time. But I suppose what gives me most pleasure is that we have created, what our customers tell us, is a trusted brand and to me that means we are doing what we set out to do which is to sell quality products to the elderly and disabled at value-for-money prices”

And what of the future? Where does Ableworld see itself in the next ten years? Franchise Director, Paul Boniface looks at it like this “Ten years is probably too far to look ahead but our five year plan is to continue to grow the business via a combination of own stores and franchise outlets. Our aim is to grow steadily and carefully, always being aware that our first job is to protect the brand. By opening one or two company stores a year and by pressing ahead with the franchise operation we see a network of between 40 and 50 stores in five years”.

Ableworld UK Ltd

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