Kikki.K hunts 10 local franchisees to fuel expansion plans

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Stationery brand Kikki.K will franchise up to 10 of its Australian stores as it eyes off further expansion in the Asian market, but insists there are no prerequisites for franchisees.

Kikki.K, founded in 2001 by Kristina Karlsson and Paul Lacy, has made a name for itself for its unique stationery and gifts, characterised by distinct Swedish designs.

The company has opened 82 stores across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, and is now looking to sell 10 existing Australian stores as franchises.

The stores are located in Belconnen, Kotara, Macarthur, Geelong, Brighton, Bowral, Erina Fair, Tuggerah, Glenelg and Hyde Park.

“They were chosen mainly because they’re fairly geographically remote,” Lacy says.

“They’re ones where they’re a bit further away from the other stores. This gives a partner their own geographical territory, in effect.”

“One of the other reasons is they have a strong local community following, which gives an individual businessperson an opportunity to get in and build strong, rich, local relationships.”

Lacy says the ideal franchisee is someone who not only wants to be their own boss but genuinely cares about the brand.

“We’re looking for someone who’s really passionate about having their own business. I think that’s a big thing. It has to be someone who loves our brand and loves what we do,” Lacy says.

“It has to be someone who’s going to have lots of fun working around our product and our people.”

Lacy insists there are no prerequisites with regard to age, gender or experience because it’s “really about enthusiasm and passion”.

“Kristina and I were in the first shop together and the second shop together. We didn’t know much about retail. We made it up as we went along,” he says.

“It was really our passion and… our dream to succeed – it was those things that got us through the challenging start-up phase.”

With regard to outlay, Lacy says a new franchisee would be looking at an investment of between $150,000 and $600,000. But unlike other franchise systems, their stores already exist.

“That person is going into a store that’s already operating and has been operating for quite some time successfully. There’s no store bump-in and no lease negotiations,” Lacy says.

“It’s ready to go with amazing support systems [already in place].”

According to Lacy, franchising these boutiques will provide the company with additional capital to support the funding of further international expansion throughout Asia and beyond.

There are currently three Kikki.K stores in Singapore, but that number could grow.

Lacy says the company has also received enquiries from landlords across Asia, and from partners wanting to purchase the rights for various countries.

“The way we look at it, we’ve had good success in our first export market. We’ve learnt a lot in Australia and apply those learnings elsewhere,” Lacy says.

“We may or may not take the franchising model into other countries.”

“In Singapore, we own the three stores we have there and will continue to grow that way [but] we will look to the franchise model internationally.”

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.

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Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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