Business

Former Jampro boss invests in phone accessory franchise

BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant Business Co-ordinator richardsonj@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 18, 2013    

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FORMER Jampro head Sancia Bennett-Templer will launch a cellular accessory company franchise in Jamaica today, in a bid to capitalise on the country's high mobile phone penetration.

Bennet-Templer, through her firm Communicase Limited, will open a Cellairis store in Manor Park, St Andrew this evening and has immediate plans to set up more locations on the island in the near term. With more than 700 locations across the world, US-based Cellairis offers a wide selection of "innovative and fashion-forward" accessories for mobile phone devices.

"I thought that this is a really good fit for Jamaica," Bennet-Templer told the Business Observer yesterday.

"The Jamaican market is very mature in terms of cell phones — you have as many or more cell phones in Jamaica than you have persons in the population," she added, noting that the store will appeal to what she deems as a "sophisticated" local market with "products that are not just innovative and of a high quality, but also fashionable and fun."

It will be Cellairis's first store in the Caribbean. Cellairis has grown exponentially in just over 10 years since starting out as a single stand-alone unit in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Marty Welch, vice-president of franchise sales at Cellairis, called the development a stepping stone for future expansion in the Caribbean for the firm.

"We are very excited that Sancia is our partner and franchise owner (in Jamaica)," Welch said.

"She is going to be a great fit for the brand — she is a visionary and very well connected on the island, and also has connections beyond even Jamaica," he added

Bennett-Templer was president of national trade and investment promotions agency, Jampro, for seven years before leaving office in February.

Cellairis's accessories include designer phone cases, screen protectors, head sets, chargers and cables. It's tagline is "where fashion meets mobile". The firm offers three different business models — in-line stores which also offer phone repairs, kiosks and mobile retail merchandising units.

The Manor Park store will start out with four employees with a view to add more staff members, said Bennett -Templer, who noted that she decided to launch the franchise in Manor Park — an up-market area — because it was relatively underserved in terms of phone accessories.

"Manor Park is an area that is perhaps not as served in this as others," she said. "Manor Park is our start in the country. I'm already looking at other outlets."

Bennett-Templer would not disclose the amount of money invested in the venture. But according to small business magazine Entrepreneur, which recently ranked Cellairis #87 on its 'Top 500 Franchise List', total Investment for a franchise ranges from US$33,410 ($3.5 million) to US$439,025 on a "five to 10 years renewable" contract.

Welch indicated that the investment in the Manor Park store was sizable.

"There wasn't too much expense spared in the development of this location; it's a top-notch high-end build-out and it will manifest itself to any of the customers and anybody from the local community that decides to visit," Welch said.

"We are vey pleased with the results and the appearance of the location, as not only do we want to sell brand products but we also want to make a nice impression in the community and I think this will be a great stepping stone for greater things in Jamaica and beyond in the Caribbean," he added.

Welch foresees future opportunities on the island in Kingston and Montego Bay, including at shopping centres and airports.

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