Franchise Spotlight: Hardware

Including B2B tool suppliers as well as hardware stores, hardware franchises benefit from an enormous B2B market and our enduring passion for home improvements.

Operators in the hardware and home improvement sector sell DIY equipment, building materials, outdoor and garden equipment plus myriad other hardware products.

From paint and assorted screws to hammers and screwdrivers, hardware franchises typically provide a one-stop shop for customers’ home-improvement needs.

However, this category can also include business-to-business franchises like Snap on Tools, which sells tools to professional tradespeople from a mobile store.

Sector overview

  • Hardware and home improvement is a mature, £12.5bn industry growing 3.1% a year
  • UK homeowners spend an average of £203 and 104 hours a year doing DIY or decorating and 63% of households in England are owner-occupied
  • Franchises can outperform independents on price, stock range and prime trading locations

Britain is a country of DIY enthusiasts and several trends have amplified demand for home improvements.

Government policies to stimulate the housing market, such as The Help to Buy Scheme, are one factor. And the ongoing growth in house prices means there’s often little cash left over to pay tradespeople after buying a house. The generally high cost of tradespeople gives demand some resilience during economic downturns too.

High stamp duty costs, meanwhile, have given rise to the ‘improve, not move’ trend. And the sector’s long-term outlook can only be helped by government plans to build 300,000 new homes a year.

Market research company IBISWorld cites a wide and expanding product range, experienced workforce and car parking spaces as three critical success factors in this market.

Is a hardware franchise for me?

Experience in the sector is not usually required. It’s likely you’ll need an interest in hardware and DIY, with decent product knowledge probably a bonus.

This sector will also suit those who enjoy interacting with and offering advice to customers.

Experience in retail, sales or management may help your application, but more important, typically, are attributes like being driven, entrepreneurial and demonstrating an aptitude for diligently following a proven system.

The structure of hardware franchises

Customers will choose where to buy hardware products based primarily on price, range of products and convenience of location. And DIY jobs can be daunting for many customers, so stores can also win custom by providing impartial, friendly, expert advice.

These are all areas in which the franchising model can excel. Franchises have the bulk-buying power to be price-competitive on a wide range of stock. They will probably also help you find a prime trading location.

And comprehensive training in customer service and product knowledge should be provided too. You might also get a suite of tools for checking stock and product information.

Thankfully, franchises have the economies of scale to thrive where online competition has tightened

margins and led to heavy discounting. And unlike most small independents, franchises often have the resources to maintain an effective ecommerce platform in addition to a physical store.

But bricks-and-mortar stores still have one vital edge over online retailers. People often need products immediately – if they’re in the middle of a vital repair job and realise they need a particular set of screws, for instance – and cannot wait 24 hours for delivery.  

A business-to-business hardware franchise like Snap-on Tools, meanwhile, can enjoy plenty of repeat custom. Operating from a mobile store franchisees avoid rent and rates and can travel directly to customers within their exclusive territory. Franchisees pay no royalties or advertising fees and enjoy, according to the franchisor, average sales of over £6,000 per week.

A hardware franchise might offer training and support in these areas:

  • Comprehensive initial training in management, leadership, retail operations, sales, customer service, product knowledge, accounts and business admin
  • Continuous training and support with franchisee get-togethers, annual conferences, workshops, online training and head office phone support
  • Visits from a dedicated franchisee support manager – often more frequent in the first 12 months
  • Sophisticated, intuitive sales and stock systems – possibly bespoke – and training in how to use them
  • National marketing campaigns and promotional materials to use for your own local campaigns
  • Operations manuals


Joshua Antoniou

About the author

Joshua Antoniou is now Global Account Executive having started at Dynamis in the Customer Service department. He also writes for BusinessesForSale.com & FranchiseSales.com.