New Mobalpa franchisee commits to network growth despite Brexit

Mobalpa has franchised its Warrington showroom (pictured) – the French firm’s first store in the UK opened in 2012.

UK country manager Kyle Whittle told kbbreview that Mobalpa had sold the company-owned shop over the summer to former Costa Coffee franchisees, who are committed to opening one Mobalpa showroom a year in the North-West over the next five years.

These stores will all be within about a 40-mile radius, to “raise maximum brand awareness” and are anticipated to be around Manchester, Liverpool and Chester, which have benefited from favourable demographic trends and fast-growing property prices over the past few years.

Most of Mobalpa’s nine UK kitchen franchises are currently in London and the South-East, but under the stewardship of the firm’s newest franchisees, the firm hopes to improve its brand presence in the rest of the country.

Whittle said: “We are very selective at Mobalpa about who we work with and we are excited to be partnering with these particular franchisees, not just to manage the Warrington business, but to develop a commercial proposition for Mobalpa in the North-West.

“They have a great background in retail, the commercial environment and have a good nose for business,” he added.

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The new owners of the Warrington store are Dennis Evans, a former director at Iceland, and his wife Kathryn, who comes from an HR background, and business partners Barry Davies, a logistics specialist, and his wife Lin.

New Mobalpa Warrington owners (left-to-right) Dennis Evans, Kathryn Evans, Lin Davies and Barry Davies

Dennis and Kathryn were one of the first franchisees of Costa Coffee, and owned seven at their peak involvement in the business. They had sold all of them before approaching Mobalpa.

Whittle said it had taken about 18 months from first meeting to the new franchisees taking ownership of the Warrington showroom.

Dennis told kbbreview that he had first approached the in-toto franchise network (before it went into administration) but was not impressed.

“Mobalpa have a different USP to other brands in the UK. We liked the fact that they are a family business, not a big corporate. We liked everything about Mobalpa – the product, the level of service, and the guarantees – also the level of support they offer their franchisees and the profitability levels.

Kyle Whittle, UK country manager, Mobalpa

“Most Mobalpa franchisees own one or two shops, but we have a background in opening new franchises and we can’t see any reason why we can’t do the same at Mobalpa as we did at Costa. As there are four owners, we have to do this to make this work for us.”

Shrugging off the threat of Brexit, Dennis said that he couldn’t remember a time working in retail that wasn’t “tricky”.

“Mobalpa is a good company, with good products and a good service proposition. We are not discouraged by Brexit as whatever happens, most kitchen companies will be in the same boat, so we are just going for it.”

Whittle, who was the launch showroom manager at Warrington when it first opened in the UK six years ago, said that it had a turnover of £1 million and had the potential to grow to £1.5m under the stewardship of an owner-manager.

The Warrington store is currently been given a makeover, which will be completed in 2019, and will then be rolled out to Mobalpa’s other UK franchises.

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