VF Interview Series: ACE International
Jun 23, 2020
Full Name: Alberto Vidal
Position/Title: Director International Business Development
Over 30 years in franchise organizations, with the past 20 years focused on International Franchising in QSR and the convenience hardware and home improvement sectors, Alberto leads an international recruitment team of seasoned professionals that cover the regions of Middle East/Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
1. How long have you been with Ace and what is your role there? Just shy of 15 years. I initially started with the US Business Development Team and in 2012 moved into the position of Director of International Business Development.
2. Please educate us a little on the industry that Ace competes in. Ace is a global leader in the convenience hardware and home improvement sector and is the largest home improvement franchise in the world. With over 95 years in business, and over 5,300 stores operating in approximately 70 countries, Ace provides the know-how and the world class operating methods necessary for retailers to successfully operate and compete in the home improvement franchise.
3. Please share with us what is Ace and its value proposition to franchisees and investors. Ace provides its retail partners with the fundamentals to build a legacy enterprise – the exclusivity of a globally recognized brand, a business model that focuses on market localization and operational flexibility, a training program that focuses on teaching exceptional customer service, a worldwide distribution network that delivers access to thousands of products and a team to provide support from its bank of world class practices.
4. Who are your direct competitors at home and internationally? As a regional market leader in SE Asia, with nearly 500 stores throughout Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and South Vietnam, Ace has established its foothold in the region. Nevertheless, we take our leadership position with humility, and respect the success of regional players such as HomePro, Mr DIY and the independent “Mom & Pop” stores.
5. Please share with us something that is unique and not well known about your business. The home improvement segment tends be somewhat “fad proof” versus the fast-food, fashion or fitness franchises which continually offer new concepts and promise a quick return on investment.
Ace offers a more conservative, long-term approach to building an organization that focuses on the principles of service, quality and convenience. Ace positions itself as “The Helpful Place” and differentiates not only by providing high quality goods but also through our accessible, helpful and knowledgeable store staff.
During this current global pandemic, in which in many countries, the restaurants, gyms and other businesses have been forced to close or limit their capacities, Ace has fortunately been deemed “essential” in many countries, and has seen continued growth in customers patronizing our stores to buy products to fix and repair their homes and preserve their biggest investment. We know that our convenient, smaller formats and helpful customer service have been key to driving this business.
6. How is ACE doing in the US market versus international markets? Please see below.
7. What opportunities do you see for Ace in Asia? In addition to leveraging Ace’s brand equity in the region, we do see the need for a flexible model such as ours that can offer a smaller convenience hardware format in certain areas as well as a larger format and product offering in other areas.
8. What challenges do you see when entering Asia, and how will you overcome them? Finding partners with retail, multi-unit experience and high commercial real estate rates. As we open new markets/stores, candidates will be able to understand our business model and visit stores in neighboring countries. With the global pandemic, I believe we will experience greater interest from investors who rather consider business opportunities that are essential.
9. What is the profile of your ideal international franchisee? An organization that has experience in multi-unit retail franchise, franchising, real estate development, and/or distribution and logistics. Financially, prospects will need a minimum of net worth of US$2mm – $3mm.
10. How is ACE managing the COVID-19 crisis domestically and internationally? As alluded to earlier, many restaurants, gyms and other business have been forced to close or limit their capacities due to COVID-19. Ace has fortunately been deemed “essential” in many countries and has managed to perform well as people have continued to fix and repair their homes and preserve their biggest investment.
11. Any last thoughts? If your goals are to build an enterprise that can be passed on to future generations, in an industry which thrives on the aspirations of home ownership and an ever growing middle-class, then consider Ace.
VF Franchise Consulting is the Leading, Most Trusted, and “Go-To” franchising and licensing consultancy (brokerage) for Southeast or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Asia Pacific. We offer franchise opportunities in food and beverage, children’s education, adult education, digital education, STEM based education, retail, restaurants, services, health and fitness, café, fast food, burger, chicken, pizza, ice cream, bakery, coffee, milk tea, and other lifestyle franchises. ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.