CHRIS Brown has had an interesting journey on the way to becoming a franchisee of Ableworld, the largest mobility retailer in the country.

He spent 38 years in retail and catering and worked for nightclub entrepreneur Peter Stringfellow in London.

His first business venture was running his own nightclub in Glastonbury.

He has also dabbled in kitchens and bathrooms.

But it was when he returned to London in 2008 to take care of his elderly mother and an aunt that he began to realise just how difficult it was to find reputable firms to provide reliable and reasonably priced equipment for their needs.

It was still however just the germ of an idea.

When he came back to Bournemouth Chris and his business partner, Eddie Raileanu, considered getting into the gym sector but quickly concluded it was a pretty tough market.

He said: “We were in Westbourne one day and saw all these mobility scooters parked outside the post office. I think it was pension day. I said to Eddie that we should get into this business!”

Chris and Eddie did their research and found that Ableworld was the largest mobility retailer, was growing quickly because of the country’s demographics and offering franchises.

Although the Ableworld focus is on the big ticket items like scooters, power chairs and stairlifts, Chris has made his two franchises (in Kinson and the newly opened Christchurch branch) one stop shops, providing many smaller but essential items for day to day care.

In fact the company stocks up to 800 mobility and care-related items.

“The ethos is about offering good quality products at affordable prices, rather than simply trying to make as much money as possible.

“It’s about looking after the welfare of our customers and their families. We always bear in mind that many of those who come to us are vulnerable and may be distressed and at their wit’s end,” he said.

“They are looking to us to help them and provide a solution, often to improve the quality of their life and that’s exactly what we try to do.

“We do not want a hard nosed approach to business. It’s not appropriate.”

Some of the customers are from local care homes, so working with care home providers is a key part of the operation.

The Kinson branch opened in 2017 and is well established with a growing reputation.

Chris, who employs eight staff is looking to open a third franchise in the west of the county, possibly in Weymouth or Dorchester.

He added: “Christchurch was an obvious location for us. We just needed the right location to come up.

“We were pleased to get our site in Bridge Street. Christchurch has a significantly large elderly population and I think we will be a big boost for the town.

“Sometimes it feel like we are another emergency service. We make sure we put ourselves out for customers.

“Courtesy, care and a bit of time and attention costs nothing in my opinion. Not in the care business.”