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Merlin Digital seeks to appoint franchisees

Consumer electronics maker eyes MEA power retail segment

Merlin Digital seeks to appoint franchisees
Bachani says Merlin wants to grow its franchise network in Middle East and Africa.

Dubai-based consumer electronics gadget maker, Merlin Digital has revealed that it is looking to appoint franchisees for its Merlin range of tablet, smartphone, smart watch, accessory and other wearable health products.

The company said the new plan aims to help set-up Merlin gadget stores in Middle East and Africa (MEA) as the company continues to expand its product breadth and offering to resellers and power retailers.

The company said it already has franchise stores in Ukraine, Russia and Singapore and wants to appoint partners in select countries in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region.

Rohit Bachani, co-founder, Merlin Digital, said the company is looking to appoint franchisees in GCC and Africa as these regions hold so much growth potential for the products it supplies to the market.

Bachani added that Merlin has identified KSA, Libya, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa as countries where it wants to recruit franchisees interested in setting up gadget shops in strategic locations in those countries.

"We have been encouraged by our recent ranking in the 'Dubai Top 100 SMEs' ranking were we ranked in eighth place. As a Dubai-based manufacturer of gadgets and consumer electronics, we want to take our technology story to the rest of the world and we believe that appointing franchisees will help us to achieve this goal," he said.

Bachani said interested partners will be required to sign a Merlin Digital franchise agreement for five years with the option to renew after that. The total set-up cost is $72,000 and includes opening stock to the value of approximately $35,000 with the balance covering complete shop fittings, display cabinets, floors, lights, signage and POS systems. "The costs will vary from region to region but the company will ensure that it helps potential partners to keep their initial set-up costs under check," he said.

Bachani said the total set up cost provides the franchisee with a complete turnkey operation. "In addition, a franchise fee, which is a one-off payment of $15,000 will be expected to be paid at the end of the second year as we don't want to put constraints on the cash flow and day-to-day running of the business," he said.

He pointed out that interested partners would be guided throughout the process of establishing the store from location to market research on the disposable income in the selected area to potential for growth. "The target market for our products is the mid to high-end client base," he said. "We are not priced as a tier one brand but are certainly not a low-end private label brand."

He explained that part of the selective recruitment of franchisees across MEA, focuses on the location and the target market in a given country. "A prospective partner should have a good location in either a shopping mall or high street presence where tourists and other customers with high disposable income frequent," he said. "We will rely on their understanding and knowledge of the market and guide them through to ensure success of their businesses within the first two years of setting up."

Bachani added that the franchise fee covers the right to use Merlin Digital trademarks and business systems. "This includes training for 30 days, post-sales support, and RMA," he said.

He said the potential to grow the Merlin franchise network in MEA is huge. "We want to do to the consumer electronics sector, what Subway has done to the fast food restaurant business," he said.

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