Retailer Spotlight: Lifestyle and Mobility on the acquisition trail
Diving into the South Coast
As the saying goes, “when one door closes, another opens” and that certainly rings true for Lifestyle and Mobility’s latest retail venture.
After learning that Hearing Health and Mobility was exiting the mobility sector and had appointed administrators, Lifestyle and Mobility saw a golden opportunity to establish a base in one of the busiest areas for mobility products in the UK.
Confirming it has now taken over Hearing and Mobility’s Bournemouth branch, THIIS spoke with Darren Macey, Business Development Manager of Lifestyle and Mobility, to find out the motivation behind the move.
THIIS: Can you let us know the thinking behind the decision to take over the Hearing & Mobility store in Bournemouth?
Darren: “The opportunity came at the right time so we jumped at it immediately. We had already started negotiations on another site in the area and have quite strong ties there with a charity we look after, as well as around 80 Motability customers around Bournemouth and on the Isle of Wight that we service.
“Taking on Hearing and Mobility means we have a super-strong client base of 150 customers combined.”
THIIS: Have you also taken on the Hearing and Mobility staff in the store?
Darren: “Yes, all staff have been TUPE’d across as we knew this was one of the biggest assets in that we were purchasing – fully trained Motability staff with lots of experience. That really is not easy to come by in our opinion so it is fantastic that we can welcome them to the Lifestyle and Mobility family.”
THIIS: What changes will you be making to the store?
Darren: “So many changes! The store was in a bit of a sorry state because of a lack of investment so we plan to bring the store up to 2020 retail standards.
“We will add a huge amount of new fresh stock from all our top suppliers and will allocate a large marketing budget to the site.
“Importantly, we shall be expanding our three-person team to five and employing someone with a vast amount of specialist knowledge on all the prescriptive products, bringing our expertise in meeting complex needs to Bournemouth and the surrounding areas.”
“It is no secret that Bournemouth is known for being the retirement capital of the UK.” Darren Macey
THIIS: You mention a lack of investment prior to you taking over, can you tell us a bit more?
Darren: “Really the store had been neglected from some time and stock levels were so slim – for example, the branch had never had a folding scooter!
“Speaking with the staff, they told us about the struggles in getting basic stock from their head-office so we will make sure that the store enjoys the vast amount of mobility solutions that Lifestyle and Mobility offer.”
THIIS: What will be some of the ranges you will be bringing to Bournemouth?
Darren: “There will be lots of new ranges coming which the store lacked before and customers will not believe they are in the same showroom.
“The branch will house a fresh range of modern adjustable beds, large range of rise and recline chairs, as well as lots of folding scooters.
“Of course, the biggest changes will be all of our specialist products such as high-end powerchairs, specialist seating, active user products and power add-ons that will be available. These are the products that set us apart from the competition.”
THIIS: For mobility products purchased by customers from Hearing and Mobility, will Lifestyle and Mobility be continuing services, warranties etc?
Darren: “Absolutely. Having spent a week down in Bournemouth and time with the team, what came across clearly is the strong sense of community there.
“That is extremely important to us so we shall be honouring any warranty outstanding that customers had under Hearing and Mobility.
THIIS: When will the doors reopen under the Lifestyle and Mobility banner?
Darren: “The store is currently open while we are making the small changes.
“Unfortunately, we can’t make any huge changes until we have a new lease in place, however, the rent is high there so unless we can re-negotiate and secure a better deal going forward, we may be forced to relate the site to somewhere else in the local area.
“All options are very much on the table at the moment.”
THIIS: To say Bournemouth is not short on mobility shops would be an understatement. The area is one of the busiest in the UK in regards to mobility retailers. Why did you decide to throw your hat into the ring?
Darren: “It is no secret that Bournemouth is known for being the retirement capital of the UK. We also know it is one of the most competitive areas in the industry, however, we don’t want to compete on price.
“We feel we have additional strings to our bow that others don’t have. If anything, we hope our Bournemouth branch will help complement the local mobility market and bring something new to customers in the area.
“For example, when we go shopping for new clothes for a holiday, we would go to a large shopping centre to look around all the stores, see all the different options and then make the right purchase. I see this as the same for Bournemouth’s mobility market – more stores mean more people coming to shop around and check out different retailers’ offering & products.
“It is our job to ensure that when customers come to see us, they make the decision to purchase from us and that is about showcasing the value of buying with Lifestyle and Mobility which is beyond price.
“We’ve established ourselves in the market to a point where our customers do not purchase solely based on price alone. We have a tried and tested retail formula that we know works.”
THIIS: What are some of the strings to the Lifestyle and Mobility bow that will enable you to distinguish yourself in Bournemouth?
“Firstly, we have a modern approach to retail that resonates with what customers’ expect from today’s retailers so we will have an attractive store that looks like it belongs in 2020 and this will be at the top of the agenda.
“Then there is our comprehensive range of high-quality products that we mentioned before, combined with experienced staff and Motability accreditation.
“These will help us make our mark, along with great marketing and our online presence.”
“There will be lots of new ranges coming which the store lacked before and customers will not believe they are in the same showroom.” Darren Macey
THIIS: Your current stores are mostly situated in the South East of England so do you envisage the distance between your current store portfolio and the South Coast posing a challenge?
Darren: “Distance can always be a challenge but for me, I believe it is all about managing time well and ensuring that we have a quality team in place.
“We shall be making sure we are visiting the new store as much as possible and providing all the support needed to ensure our exceptional standards are maintained.”
THIIS: How does the new Bournemouth store fit into your wider retail strategy?
Darren: “Our core values are to look after complex customers and as we have a strong and growing base of charities and case managers that we work with, we have naturally built our customer base on the South Coast.
“This store will now help us to support those existing customers and we shall be able to grow that specialist business in the area.”
THIIS: What does 2020 have in store for Lifestyle and Mobility?
“2020 is an exciting time for Lifestyle and Mobility. We have also just had our best January and February to date!
“Last year, we announced that we were planning to launch the biggest store in our portfolio in Harlow, however, due to poor conditions and asbestos in the site, we had to, unfortunately, pull out.
“This does not mean that we are putting our Harlow expansion plans to rest and I can confirm that we have now found a much better location in Harlow which we are currently in negotiations with. At the risk of sounding cliché, it is very much a ‘watch this space’ situation.
“We feel it is a great time for our industry and there really are great times ahead for Lifestyle and Mobility. It is fantastic to see lots of interest and invitations from suppliers and we welcome it with open arms.”https://thiis.co.uk/retailer-spotlight-lifestyle-and-mobility-on-the-acquisition-trail/https://thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Hearing-and-Mobility-store-takeover-by-lifestyle-and-mobility.jpghttps://thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Hearing-and-Mobility-store-takeover-by-lifestyle-and-mobility-150x150.jpgMergers & AcquisitionsNewsroomRetailer NewsRetailer SpotlightTrade FocusTrade NewsBounemouth,Darren Macey,DHAIS,Hearing Health and Mobility,lifestyle and mobility,mobility retailer,mobility shop,mobility store,MotabilityDiving into the South Coast As the saying goes, “when one door closes, another opens” and that certainly rings true for Lifestyle and Mobility’s latest retail venture. After learning that Hearing Health and Mobility was exiting the mobility sector and had appointed administrators, Lifestyle and Mobility saw a golden opportunity...Calvin BarnettCalvin Barnettcalvin@thiis.co.ukAdministratorTHIIS Magazine