The Unlimited Company has said that for the time being it is curbing its original shop expansion plans and instead turning its attention to a service and advice proposition which will complement its retail model, AMP can reveal.
Raman Sankaran, chief commercial officer for Simplyhealth, which owns The Unlimited Company, is now in charge of the firm since a recent managerial reshuffle which saw former-MD Matthew Main depart the company.
He explained that following a market review, the board decided that a service-based approach focusing on helping people to access the best mobility solutions would better suit the company’s current place in the market, rather than a traditional retail model.
“We’ve taken a pause on our original expansion plans in terms of the store numbers but we’re actually looking to continue and grow that service-based proposition. At this point, I’m not really sure where it’s going to end up with the balance in terms of in-field resource, stores and online. It’s going to be a combination of the three but exactly what that sweet spot is we’re still waiting to find out,” Sankaran said.
“Based on that service and advice we’ve tweaked and enhanced our model where instead of employing sales people on the road we’re actually employing fully-qualified OTs. We’re still learning and developing. We’re still investing but looking at it in a slightly different way as to when we first started and making sure we can get the balance right.”
“At one point we were thinking over the last 18 months, over the next 12 months, we’d almost be opening two or three stores a month. Actually, where the proposition is going, I can see us recruiting two or three OTs.”
Until recently, The Unlimited Company has been on an extensive store-opening programme which Main, who has considerable retail experience, oversaw. But now the firm believes it has entered into a new chapter which will see it adapt to the marketplace.
Sankaran commented: “From a mobility market perspective, what we saw was a gap where we could add value around service and advice. It’s not really traditional retail; it’s a service proposition where we can fulfil solutions. If someone wants a product as quickly as they can and at the lowest possible price, then that’s not a market we can really add any value.”
But Sankaran added that The Unlimited Company, which now has 15 stores, has not disregarded new outlets altogether and the firm may open more in the future.