FURNISHING A FRESH APPROACH
In this new concept, storage is king.
In a new concept for the furniture segment and franchising, storage is king - bypassing warehouses full
of stock with data stored in the cloud.
After 15 years of trading, Vast Furniture & Homewares has come up with a new approach to running the business which founder Ross Clayton believes will shake up the furniture retail scene.
It took more than four years to shape and test his concept, which three company stores are now using, and he is ready to roll it out for new franchise stores. His present 22 franchisees have been given the option to adopt the new model, and Clayton says the costs of implementation will be countered by a drop in ongoing storage costs.
The brand specialises in versatile, bespoke furniture ranging from tables and bedroom furniture made from disused shipping timber, to vegan leather sofas. Traditionally the market has been the 35 years and older demographic, but with an active social-media presence the brand is attracting a younger crowd.
Clayton says millennials are also being drawn to the business because of its artisan, hand-made ethos. “We’re about sustainable hard woods with a hipster vibe,” he says.
So what has changed? It’s all about greater efficiencies.
BASED IN CLOUD
His franchise model is based in the cloud: a system that can store all inventory information centrally and organise direct delivery from manufacturer to customer, bypassing warehouse overheads. Instead of franchisees having to build their own system from scratch or be expert importers or exporters, each business has instant access to the entire range of suppliers.
“One of the biggest challenges for furniture retailers is the logistics of bulky goods,” says Clayton. “It’s an incredibly competitive segment, and warehousing costs are increasing.”
He believes his initiative to remove a layer in the supply chain makes it easier and more cost effective for franchisees. Already, delivery times have been cut by 80 per cent, plus he says overheads are down 70 per cent on the traditional industry model.
“I have been in the industry for many years and one day simply questioned why we spend so much money on storage, wasting time in terms of delivery and limiting our overall results. I knew there had to be a better way.”
“We’re aiming to open 20 franchises across Australia over the next two years,” says Clayton, who is looking for people with passion, great customer service, a happy personality and a youthful attitude.
It costs an average of $150,000 to buy a store in an exclusive territory. Set-up and stock will cost about $200,000.
There are also plans to take the brand overseas, expanding from its single store in N ew Z ealand a nd b reaking i nto t he Asian, UK and US markets.
“Previously we needed someone who was a born creative business whizz or a cashed-up genius to make their franchise a success. Now anyone who wants to be involved in the franchise business can be set up for success with this model,” says Clayton.
“We b elieve t he f uture l ies i n b eing more efficient, productive and cost effective, and by providing a franchise model that ticks all these boxes we offer investors a very real chance of keeping our industry alive right here in Australia.”
Anyone who wants to be involved in the franchise business can be set up for success
with this model.