Ableworld's new outlet in Blackfield
Ableworld’s new outlet in Blackfield set to open in later summer/autumn

As many in the mobility retail trade consider the next best course of action following yesterday’s lockdown extension announcement, Ableworld has set its sights to the future and has confirmed plans to open more stores across the country by autumn 2020.

Undeterred by the impacts of the coronavirus on the sector, the UK’s largest mobility retailer has revealed that it will be boosting its network across the UK, with new operations on the South Coast, Manchester and London preparing to welcome customers.

The announcement comes whilst a wide proportion of the mobility retail sector have closed their showrooms in the wake of the lockdown measures introduced by the government in a bid to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

According to industry sources, up to 70 per cent of mobility retailers are predicted to have temporarily shut their doors.

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Recently, Mike Williams, Managing Director of Ableworld, confirmed that the national mobility retailer received backing from the government to keep it showrooms open, emphasising its importance in supporting local communities and the NHS.

Alongside remaining operational, the company has been planning its future strategy.

Ableworld highlighted that a key element to its strategy will be the launch of “at least three new stores by autumn 2020.”

Aiming to bolster its presence on the South Coast, Ableworld will plan to open a new 3,000+ sq. ft outlet in Blackfield, located on ‘the other side of the water’ to Southampton on the edge of the New Forest and next to a Tesco Express.

The new store will be opened by the present business partner of Ableworld, JCS Southern Ltd, wholly owned by Jeff and Steven Newman.

Commenting that times may be more difficult at present, the pair underlined that they have built “very strong foundations” in the area and are ready to build on seven years of sustained growth by expanding their company.

Following the Blackfield site, Jeff and Steven will set their sights north of their present stores, including the Portsmouth and Fareham areas.

“We are really excited about our new store. We have a fantastic company with lots of strengths, including a strong and loyal team of staff,” commented Steven and Jeff.

“The Ableworld model we have worked with has been great for us and as the franchise world says, work with the model and put in a lot of hard work and you will have a successful business – this has certainly proved true for Ableworld Southampton.”

In addition to ambitions in the South, the company’s business partner in the North West, Barry Pearson, is also planning to increase his store portfolio in the region.

With five stores currently located in the region, just above Ableworld’s main base, Barry’s sixth store will be located in Hyde in North Manchester.

Situated on a retail park next to B&M and The Food Warehouse, owned by the Iceland Group, the showroom will also be over 3,000 sq. ft and will house Ableworld’s comprehensive product range.

Ableworld's new outlet in Hyde
Ableworld’s upcoming store Hyde will look to benefit from the footfall of B&M and Iceland’s The Food Warehouse

Almost all work on both the Blackfield and Hyde sites have been completed, says Ableworld, and “will open as soon as sensibly possible in the summer/early autumn.”

“Hyde is already a very busy site with Iceland and B&M already there,” said MD Mike Williams.

“Once opened, it will work closely with the Ableworld Stockport store, working our way around the Manchester perimeter. We are looking more and more to be on retail parks, where we already have another two probable new sites in 2021.”

As well as the two new sites, Ableworld has also welcomed a new franchisee and is set to move into East London with a new store.

According to the company, the property is still going through the legal process but Ableworld says it is confident it will complete soon.

Expected to stand at approximately 2,500 sq. ft, the property is slightly smaller than what is usual for an Ableworld store, pointed out Mike: “We have had a few potential franchise partners who would like to open in the London area, but the difficulty we have had is finding the right property at the right price!

“The property, presently going through the final stages, will open in Essex, in July. It will be our first venture into this region but hopefully not our last; we have had a lot of interest in the London area but have always fallen down with the property investigation.

“So, although it will not be able to take the full ‘Ableworld range’, it will certainly have a much bigger range than any of the competition in the region.”

Focusing on the future, Mike emphasised that beyond the current coronavirus situation, he is confident in the growth prospects of the mobility retailer.

“It’s times like these which will make or break companies and we are seeing daily companies closing down for various reasons and we will, unfortunately, see more,” he concluded.

“However, Ableworld has a very strong brand and after the dust settles on the present pandemic, we see the company expanding and being an even stronger nationwide brand in the future.”

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