Britain’s biggest window blinds franchise enjoyed a double celebration recently when the company held its annual conference in Scotland. When franchisees of Apollo Blinds travelled to Glasgow for their 2022 Conference, it was the first time in three years that they were able to meet each other in person, because of restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic.
Not only did they celebrate their first gathering since 2019, but they also toasted the company’s golden anniversary thanks to five successful decades in business. Apollo Blinds was founded in 1972 by the McNeill brothers who opened their first store in the North Lanarkshire town of Airdrie, which is situated about 12 miles east of Glasgow city centre.
The idea was developed after the owners began recruiting a network of distributors to sell the blinds that they were manufacturing. And during its first week of trading, the Airdrie store sold 120 Venetian blinds. The company then moved its headquarters to Glasgow because they could benefit from lower production costs, while taking advantage of the massive surge in the popularity of Venetian blinds.
The company certainly enjoyed a meteoric rise and, by 1975, there were more than 30 shops in Scotland selling Apollo Blinds. Two years later Apollo Blinds became one of the founder members of the British Franchise Association (BFA), with factory production peaking at 4,500 blinds per week.
In 1994 they became part of the Rotterdam-based Hunter Douglas Group, which is an international company who are the world’s largest manufacturer of window blinds. Nowadays, there are more than 50 Apollo Blinds‘ outlets across the UK, ranging from Guernsey in the south, to Swansea in the west, and Aberdeen in the north.
Apollo Blinds used the recent conference to unveil plans for celebrating the remainder of this anniversary year. The company’s business development director, Matt Thomas, remarked: “The franchise network has changed beyond recognition over the years. Fifty years is a big achievement for any business, and we’re proud that Apollo Blinds has stood the test of time. We are still delivering great, high-quality made-to-measure window coverings that are installed by experts.
“It’s reassuring to know that Apollo Blinds remains a brand that consumers trust and is also an attractive investment opportunity for people who want to run their own businesses as part of our network. It was also wonderful to celebrate this golden anniversary milestone at our first in-person conference since 2019.
“Because of restrictions surrounding the Covid pandemic, this was the first time we were able to get everyone together in the same place – and our 50th birthday made it extra special. Many of our franchises remain family affairs, with businesses passed from one generation to another. Others, meanwhile, have been sold on to new owners who are happy to purchase profitable territories with a strong trading history.”
The range of Apollo Blinds‘ products has expanded massively, with Matt keen to add: “Our network now offers the widest collection of blinds, shutters, awnings and curtains anywhere in the UK.
“There has been a considerable growth in the number of van-based franchises, which all offer a free home consultation. This is proving to be as popular as ever, with our consumers appreciating the visit of local experts who will guide them through the various options. We continue to innovate and offer a wide choice of quality made-to-measure products, which is backed up by our excellent customer service.”