Battery World’s General Manager Rowan Hodge knows retail. Cutting his teeth at franchising world-beater Domino’s Pizza, he started out as a store trainer and worked his way up to being a corporate area manager, then becoming a multi-unit franchisee himself. After stints at Westfield and Corporate Travel Management, Rowan returned to Domino’s. He went on to work for the listed Australian pizza company around the world, including moving to Paris to help Domino’s expansion into France, Belgium, and Holland. When family needs beckoned in 2011, he returned to Australia, where his franchising focus continued as the operations manager for Quest Serviced Apartments.

In 2014, he took on the top job at Battery World, with an aim to use his experience in franchising to grow the business. “Battery World has been around for 18 years, but was a business that was only slow but steady in terms of its growth trajectory,” Rowan says. “We opened only 18 stores in the last 12 years. By contrast, we will probably open 18 this year. So the difference in the velocity of growth has been a real step change.”

Rowan brings to Battery World a clear vision and a solid plan for how the company will achieve that vision—by increasing its store numbers and franchise profitability. “[!i!] to give the business a crystal-clear vision that everyone in the business can participate in. Our vision is to open 20 new stores per year for five years, and to lift franchise operating profit to at least 14 per cent.

“When I joined the business back in October last year, the market research was telling us that Battery World had a tremendous reputation. It’s well understood that we are experts in our subject matter. We’re very trusted. However, we are not very convenient. We have only 82 stores as a national leader. We are dramatically under-represented across the Australian retail market, and that’s particularly so in the major metropolitan markets of Sydney and Melbourne, on top of some huge opportunities in regional markets. So the first and foremost goal is to see us dramatically increase our store count.

“The second part of the new strategy is going to be the fuel for that growth, and that is that we must see franchise profitability increase. We have a very stable franchise pool here which I see as a wonderful advantage, but it is certainly nothing towards which we feel entitled. Franchisors must earn the loyalty of their franchisees. We are making great strides in earning this loyalty, but I still feel we owe them a tremendous debt. To stay tightly aligned, we must see their operating profit increase.”