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Expansion by degrees the new vision at Gallery 360

GALLERY 360 is looking to the exclusive retail strips of Australia and New Zealand to fulfil its major expansion plans.

The owner of the original Hay Street store, Simon Walsh, has teamed up with franchise manager Paul Cresp to plan an expansion of the successful art and framing business through a network of franchises across Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Cresp previously worked with computer rental business Hire Intelligence to develop its franchise network through the United Kingdom and Europe.

Gallery 360 has already set up two new outlets in Perth – in Mount Lawley and Applecross.

The selection of property for the new stores is worked out in conjunction with the franchisees, Mr Cresp said.

Strategically the business is better suited to sites within strip retail areas rather than within shopping centres, he said.

It’s a competitive market, with more than 186 framing businesses in Perth, so differentiation is a major issue for Gallery 360.

“Strip shopping areas where people can shop invisibly is the target,” Mr Cresp said.

“People don’t want to carry things through a shopping centre and it’s a more relaxed style of shopping.”

The roll out of the franchise plan is bold and ambitious in what’s already a crowded market.

There are two different types of franchises available, depending on the interests of the franchisee.

Interested business people can buy into either the retail shop front or the shop with a workshop where the framing is undertaken attached.

“Our plan is to obtain a 10 per cent market share of the art and framing industry and establish Gallery 360 as the industry leader,” Mr Cresp said.

“This is the first time in the art and framing industry that a business has undertaken a franchise, and we are confident of ongoing success.

“Applecross and Mount Lawley were chosen because of their cosmopolitan style, excellent shopping element and economic standing.”

A focus on customer service is a key element of the strategy for the business.

“It’s the concentration on customer service and the complete product range that has supported the business,” Mr Cresp said.

The Gallery 360 stores also carry a wide range of original art for clients to look at, and the work undertaken in the stores ranges from major contracts to small one-off jobs.

Gallery 360 has chosen to expand the business through a franchise model for a number of different reasons, but primarily it’s about customer service, Mr Cresp said.

“We could never provide the model of personal service that you get with an owner operator,” he said.

“Franchisees are generally part of the local scene and it also means you can get set up a lot more quickly.”

Gallery 360 plans to have at least five outlets in WA and stores set up in Sydney and Melbourne by the end of the year.

There are perils associated with franchising the business and maintaining the reputation of the original store will pose a challenge, Mr Cresp said.

“It’s putting our reputation on the line and we have to be very careful not to tarnish that,” he said.

“For the franchisee we look at it as a minimum risk (project) compared to going it alone.

“And there’s support in terms of training and marketing.

“Simon often had people saying to him that there was just nothing like Gallery 360 in the eastern states and he just wanted to capitalise on that.”

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