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U.K.'s Leading Gay Retailer Expands With Clonezone Franchises

Lyn Bimey

Following the opening of its first franchise store in Berlin, Clonezone is due to open a second in Vienna this month.

Clonezone is the U.K.’s leading gay retailer and has been in business for more than 30 years. It has four retail stores — two in London, one in Manchester and one in Birmingham. You can also find them online at Clonezone.co.uk. Clonezone has now launched a franchise scheme enabling like-minded partners to draw on their experience.

The Clonezone franchise concept is extremely appealing so we are not surprised things have moved so quickly. We are extremely happy with the locations so far and are looking forward to opening in Vienna and bringing the gift of Clonezone to the community in time for Christmas.” – Nigel Glenn, Clonezone

The opening of Clonezone’s latest franchise store comes less than six months after its first franchise store opened with another two stores due to open in Barcelona and Madrid early next year, the company said.

“The Clonezone franchise concept is extremely appealing so we are not surprised things have moved so quickly,“ says Nigel Glenn, franchise and operations manager.  “We are extremely happy with the locations so far and are looking forward to opening in Vienna and bringing the gift of Clonezone to the community in time for Christmas.”

Clonezone is regarded as the U.K. and Europe’s first gay superstore with the first store opening in 1984.

“The first Clonezone opened inside of Brompton’s — a legendary gay pub in Earls Court that is now unfortunately gone,” the company says on its website. “Our early customers included a fabulous mix of the LGBT community and a few very famous gay superstars, who of course we won’t mention...

“As our popularity grew, in 1984, we began to open up our own shops. Clonezone became an integral part of the gay scene and provided customers with news of local gay venues and a safe place to shop for the hottest fashion, toys, porn and much more — during a risky time for the LGBT community in the U.K. Our exciting stores were opened by icons such as Lily Savage, Sue Pollard and Kenny Everett.”

Over the course of the next two decades Clonezone continued to grow with stores opening in a variety of locations. According to the company, the recession in 2008 hit the high street the hardest, and led to Clonezone consolidating its stores down to Soho, Earls Court, Birmingham and Manchester. However, that all turned around, and in addition to launching franchise stores, the company also expanded its Earls Court location with the addition of a fetish store in December 2014, located directly under their current Earls Court branch.

“The large Earls Court premises has undergone a stunning refit, and by teaming up with scene veteran Jonathan Wheatley and his Fetish Freak brand from which the store will take its name, Clonezone are confident that they have put together a store that will delight fans of kink wherever they are from. The Fetish Freak brand is one of the most respected on the scene, originally housed at The Hoist, Vauxhall, Jonathan has been operating out of a store in Oval since 2013.”

According to the company, in addition to the Fetish Freak brand, the fetish shop also will sell hard-to-find goods such as the WESCO boots.

“For a long time Fetish Freaks after a pair would have had to order them in from America where they are made, but WESCO boots will be on sale exclusively within the U.K. in the new store,” the company. “Another Fetish Freak exclusive range is Invincible Rubber.”

The company’s resurgence as the U.K.’s leading gay retailer is boosted by the 2,500 product lines it carries; with products sourced from all over the world and exclusive agreements. Clonezone has also developed its own product ranges.

“Our brand continues to grow with the recent launch of the Clonezone Online Pharmacy which will sell items that cater to the body and image-conscious needs of a modern gay man,” Clonezone Director Mike McCann says in Clonezone’s Franchise Prospectus. “A key part in our resurgence over the last four years has been turning Clonezone from what was perceived as a sex shop into a fashion destination that no one else can compete with.”

Throughout the U.K., Clonezone has become renown in the GLBT community. The company notes its support and milestones.

“During our 30-plus years in the gay scene we have proudly supported HIV and AIDS research and promoted safe sex,” the company said. “We are proud supporters of many gay charities and are often involved with charity events and fundraisers in the U.K.

“We were the first company in the U.K. to import Levi 501 jeans direct from America, despite Levi’s anticipating there was ‘no interest’ in 501s in the U.K. Our bespoke leather designs have been included in exhibitions at the V&A museum and remember the famous red PVC thongs from ‘The Full Monty?’ Yes, they’re ours too!”

Clonezone Berlin is situated in Schonenberg in the heart of East Berlin on Kalckreuthstrasse, a go-to destination for gay retail. According to the company, the store has already exceeded expectations, with the Folsom Fair being a particular highlight.

Those interested in the Clonezone franchise opportunity will need at least $70K investment and share the Clonezone vision, the company. To find out more visit Clonezone. co.uk and click the franchise tab or contact Nigel Glenn via email at nigel@clonezone.co.uk.

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