Darty is the market leader in France with 70 per cent of consumers within a 30 minute drive time of a store. The remaining 30 per cent of consumers represent an opportunity to further exploit the existing infrastructure of our multi-channel offer. Typically these consumers will reside in smaller catchment areas, usually below 100,000 inhabitants, where it is uneconomic to open a typical Darty store. To address these smaller catchment areas we established a franchise operation last financial year.
The independent owner invests to refurbish their own store to a Darty store, consistent in terms of both branding and offer with the rest of the store portfolio. We charge the franchisee for the supply of product ranges and provision of home delivery and after sales services. A franchise fee is also charged for use of the brand and marketing support.
The first franchise stores opened in March 2014 and we already have 67 stores in France, with a further seven overseas, having opened 28 during the year in France and three overseas. Sales uplifts on conversion to a Darty franchisee of these former independent stores remain very strong and those stores trading in their second year are on average seeing nearly 17 per cent like-for-like sales growth. The franchise network has now reached a scale that is profitable.