News & Events

[ 29-01-2013 ]
UFL’s win-win franchise programme for SMEs

KUALA LUMPUR: Universal Fitness and Leisure Sdn Bhd (UFL), which distributes sports and leisure products, is investing RM2 million to create a string of store-in-store joint ventures (JVs) with small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The company already has six partners selling its products under the store within a store concept and is planning to team up with three more outlets in Penang, Kuantan and Kota Baru this year.

The store-in-store programme is the latest venture by the company in creating more outlets for its products.

UFL began in 1985 supplying snooker tables and accessories to clubs and snooker halls and diversified into leisure products four years later.

The company is now the largest distributor of sports, fitness and outdoor equipment in Malaysia, holding exclusive distributorships of several premier brands of sporting products as well as its own extensive dealer network in the country.

It also installs, manages and maintains gymnasium facilities for private organisations and homes.

UFL managing director Radha Krishnan said the company has increased the value of their operations organically and is now looking at the franchise business to take the business even higher.

“Apart from our own UFL stores, our products are also sold by big retailers but sales have not been encouraging. The big retailers only accept inventory according to what they feel they can sell and these are displayed with other products on the same shelf,” said Krishnan.

The franchise or store-in-store concept allows UFL to identify potential outlets trading in products that can complement UFL products in a win-win situation, the products are also displayed separately to give it exclusiveness.

“We are glad that these new JV programmes have given our partners a lift in their business as we are dealing with international products aimed at the young executives and urban adventure lifestyle lovers,” he said.

Urban adventure

One such SME that is benefitting under the UFL programme is D’Travel Shop (DTS), a Bumiputera specialist outlet which sells luggage and travel accessories in Seremban. Formerly known as Hatim Travels, the shop’s outlook has been completely changed after it signed on with the programme and began offering the complete range of UFL products alongside its own products.

And this concept was what DTS needed to move up the value chain and they have not regretted since.

“I have been trading in travel bags and accessories for the past 17 years and since introducing the complete range of UFL products, business has been robust,” said DTS managing director Taiyebi Hatim.

Business for DTS now also includes a travel agency offering travel and tour packages, hotel and budget accomodation, visa application and travel insurance while their main core business is being Negri Sembilan’s sole authorised dealer in UFL products.

“We have moved from being a simple luggage centre to a more renowned one-stop travel centre where customers can choose from a variety of products for simple lifestyle to urban adventure,” added Hatim.

And it all started with a customer walking into his store to enquire if the outlet sold Deuter products.

“I did not not have an inkling of what the customer was talking about. He was asking for products which I had not heard of and I ventured to find out more about them. That was when I developed an interest in them,” said Hatim, who now manages his shop with his wife, Zulekha Taiyebi.

Deuter is a well known international brand in sports, fitness and outdoors and this brand speaks volumes in international standards of quality in the same tone as other UFL outdoor products namely Coleman, Suunto and Power Plate.

Massive make-over

Hatim said UFL undertook to set up the shelves to display its products and DTS had to undergo a massive make-over to accommodate them. UFL also provided Hatim with a new signage displaying some of the international products.

Today there is a continuous flow of customers walking in to purchase UFL products to suit their urban adventure lifestyle and they are glad they do not have to drive to the city to get them.

“I even had one customer who shouted at the top of his voice when he saw these products at my outlet. Obviously he was an ardent outdoor man,’’ said Hatim.

Hatim can put on a big smile as his business is peaking and he is also glad as he does not have any competitors in this business.

While there are UFL products found in Seremban, they are mostly in shopping complexes and do not have the full range.

But DTS is different and Hatim dares to dream as his outlet has the whole range which also includes other UFL products such as Leatherman, Maglite, Camelbak, Stearns, Buck, Pyramid, Archery and Water Sports products.

Hatim said since UFL has given him a new lifeline, his main aim is to continue having a good and long working relationship with them.