Six months after setting up O2’s flagship store on London’s Tottenham Court Road, Adarsh Radia, founder of the operator franchise Telenomics, has reason to be cheerful. The 4,500 square foot branch is the largest in the O2 estate and split across two floors. In addition to the consumer offer on the ground floor, it targets SME customers on its basement level. Telenomics has a lot riding on the success of this floor, which is known as The O2 Workshop. If it takes off it could lead to the rollout of further Workshops in other city centres.
So how successful has it been during its short life? Radia is quietly confident the format will thrive but says it’s early days. He adds: ‘It is really encouraging to see how many people we engage with and I am confident it will give us good returns for the future.
‘The store is already profitable. The footfall the Workshop generates is really picking up, making the whole proposition very successful.’
The sleek, contemporary walk-in Workshop workspace offers drop-in and bookable work stations, four meeting rooms and a seminar room for up to 30 people, as well as a lounge serving tea and coffee. There is also a dedicated team of O2 Gurus on hand to give free advice on devices and tariffs.
Telenomics is one of O2’s largest franchise partners. Last year it delivered a ‘healthy profit’ on sales of £10m, says Radia. While he refuses to reveal its profit levels, he predicts the business will hit turnover of £20m by the end of its current financial year.
The franchise currently has a base of 60,000 customers, of which 6,000 are SMEs, and delivers an ARPU of £40. Telenomics is on a major retentions and growth drive, currently adding around 6,000 new connections per month, which Radia claims is greater than the connection rate of any other O2 franchise partner.
In addition to The O2 Workshop, Telenomics has four stores in Newcastle, three in the south east and is currently in talks to open another five stores this year. It has also launched a recruitment programme and plans to take on 80 staff by the end of 2012, boosting staff numbers to around 200.
Radia says Telenomics’ prides itself on its innovation. The O2 Workshop’s origins lay in him recognising there was a gap in the market for a high street offering catering for SMEs needs – something that offers a more tailored service than consumer stores and provides a more personal service than mobile b2b dealerships. He says: ‘We knew from running our own SME there was a need for something more for SME customers… The O2 Workshop allows us to engage with the business community as a drop-in space and via the events we run from there. SMEs can come and just use the space or talk to us about tailored solutions for their businesses.’
Unlike more traditional mobile dealerships, the O2 Workshop offers a more personal service, giving customers greater confidence in the product, says Radia. He adds: ‘We offer a service they can trust. They know the O2 brand and they know they are not going to be ripped off with hidden charges. What we offer is good account management and services. We try to understand our customers’ every requirement and we tailor make a solution for them. And we can send our Gurus round to their business to help them set up the service.’
The company has recently opened a new front in its drive into the SME market, promoting O2’s membership and perks scheme for employees, known as O2 Open, at the Workshop and via seminars at customers’ business premises. The scheme allows business customers’ employees and nominated family members or friends to buy up to six new phone and tariff deals in any 12 month period. The proposition includes a £75 cashback offer on all deals. Previously targeted at corporate customers, O2 is keen to roll this initiative out to SMEs too, says Radia. This has led to a flurry of O2 Open events, with 17 held by Telenomics this month and a further 22 to come in May.
Radia says he is heartened by the operator’s commitment to services such as O2 Open and its Gurus, as well as its backing of the O2 Workshop. He says: ‘I love O2 for that. They are practical and dynamic. They have a real value-added approach.’