Ableworld franchisees provide a comprehensive range of mobility scooters, stairlifts, adjustable beds, wheelchairs and home aids to elderly and disabled people
As this issue goes to press, Ableworld, the UK’s leading mobility retailer, will be celebrating the opening of its 20th store. The company has more openings in the pipeline, as the franchise model proves its credentials.
Ableworld is at the heart of one of the fastest growing markets in the UK. There are currently 14.5 million people aged over 60 in the UK and the government predicts that in just over 10 years’ time nearly 25 per cent of the population will be over 65. Valued at around £1.5 billion, the mobility retail sector is set to expand dramatically over the next few years, as products such as mobility scooters, stairlifts, adjustable beds, wheelchairs and home aids become increasingly in demand.
Ableworld franchises are already starting to reap the benefits of these powerful demographic forces. As the financial year closed, the Ableworld franchise network reported an increased average turnover of over 20 per cent on the previous year’s figures*, once again confirming the franchise model as a reliable route to business success.
Ableworld UK was founded in 2000 by managing director Mike Williams when he saw a gap in the market for a professional retail operation selling mobility and home care products. In the early days parts of the industry had acquired an unsavoury reputation for its poor selection of often inferior products that were sold to vulnerable people at inflated prices. Mike was determined to help change that and spent three years prior to founding the company visiting mobility outlets all over the country, laying the groundwork for Ableworld’s first store.
Since those early days, Ableworld has expanded across the UK and since launching the Ableworld franchise opportunity in 2008 has stores from Scotland to the south east. Key to the success of a store is easy parking and, of course, all the properties are disabled friendly. One of Ableworld’s more interesting locations is inside a hospital, the RJ and AH Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, which has proved to be a valuable addition to the hospital’s amenities - its products and services being appreciated by patients, visitors and health care professionals alike.
Ableworld Gloucester, Ableworld’s 20th store and newest franchise, is owned by Conway Davies, who operates his mobility superstore and stairlift business from the town’s historic docks. Conway could see there was a demand for providing quality products and services to the ever growing elderly and disabled market.
“I first started to think about mobility issues when my partner Jackie began looking for products that helped satisfy her elderly father’s needs,” he explains. “She didn’t find it easy to source good quality products and, just as importantly, good quality advice.”
Having identified a growing market, Conway was drawn to the Ableworld franchise offering.
“I’ve always aspired to owning my own business,” he says. “After meeting the founder of the company and the franchise team, I couldn’t help but realise how passionate they were about helping people and this seemed like a great opportunity for me to get involved in offering a much needed service in a very worthwhile sector.”
After completing Ableworld’s comprehensive training programme, Conway, his store staff and engineer were joined by a member of the company’s dedicated franchise support team for the first two weeks of trading. This, combined with a substantial marketing launch package, stood Conway in good stead to get off to a flyer.
The Ableworld franchise package offers franchisees two complementary revenue streams. First, there is the retail outlet - a mobility superstore that sells everything to help the elderly and disabled. Second, there is the stairlift business, which, using only high quality branded equipment, provides homeowners with a variety of stairlift options. Other benefits of the package include lower than average fees, comprehensive training, dedicated ongoing support, exclusive use of the Ableworld brand within a generous territory and the company’s unrivalled buying power.
The caring side of the Ableworld business model has been a major attraction to all its franchisees. The company is the only member of the British Franchise Association in its field. It’s dedicated time and resources to building a trusted brand and takes providing an ethical service seriously.
Sarah Moody, franchise owner of Ableworld Burton, has been operating her mobility superstore since 2013.
“I was particularly interested in mobility because I had done a lot of charity work and seen first hand the shortage in provision of equipment for the elderly and disabled,” she says. “The business model attracted me, along with the products, and I could see Ableworld were serious about running an ethical business.”
It was a similar pull for Stuart and Jacky Simpson, owners of Ableworld’s first franchise store to open in Scotland: “We were fed up with the grind, with working for someone else, and could see the mobility retail sector was expanding. Whenever we had contact with Ableworld, they were always professional and in all communications struck us as being honest and were keen on being ethical.”
Ableworld has plans to expand its franchise network further over the next year and has opportunities available across the UK. The mobility industry is at a turning point and there will never be a better time to join in the inevitable growth of the sector and benefit from investing in the future.
As the UK population ages, there will be an ever increasing demand for the products and services Ableworld provides. An Ableworld franchise gives prospective franchisees the opportunity to make a difference in a rewarding marketplace.