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ACDC – The Electrical ‘Supermarket’

ACDC Express is a company that has been making waves and broadening its scope by providing an utterly unique retail experience for customers.

GG van Rooyen




Vital Stats

  • Player: Ricardo Maio
  • Franchise: ACDC Express
  • Established: 2007
  • Contact:

Until the mid-2000s, those in desperate need of electrical supplies had little option but to go to large wholesalers, where the purchasing process could often be difficult and frustrating.

If you weren’t sure what exactly you were looking for, it was difficult to weigh up your options and consider different alternatives, since the buying process was largely blind – you would usually simply order from a pricelist or catalogue.

It became clear, therefore, that an opportunity existed to create a completely new sort of electrical store: One that would revolutionise the experience, and make buying complex electrical supplies much easier for the customer.

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How would this be done? Quite simply, by creating retail stores that allowed customers to browse and compare products in exactly the same way that one would do at a supermarket. Items would be on display, free to be examined by shoppers.

These new shops would be called ACDC Express

“We realised that there was an opportunity to create a new kind of electrical store,” says ACDC Express MD Ricardo Maio.

“We wanted to create a retail space that was open and user-friendly, and offered a wide range of products. So, with this in mind, ACDC Express was started as a retail store that would stock products supplied by ACDC Dynamics — an importer, manufacturer and distributor of electrical supplies that was well-established and very respected.”

Entering the retail space


ACDC Express was formed in 2007, and currently boasts a portfolio of 20 stores. The company consists of independently — owned electrical retail stores whose products are primarily sourced from ACDC Dynamics. It boasts a product range of over 75 000 individual items.

That includes security, hygiene, automation, telemetry systems, pumps, switchgear and instrumentation, energy management and power factor control, solar, tools, wiring and cable management, as well as a comprehensive range of lighting products. This includes premium brands such as Gewiss, Terasaki, Datalogic, C & S Electric, Rhomberg, Weicon, Moël, Orbis and Oérre, to name a few.

“We realised that ACDC Dynamics didn’t feature in the retail market and it was a great opportunity to shore up our value chain and create another revenue stream. Franchised retail stores would increase the number of dedicated buyers that could help us grow the brand,” explains Maio.

When the first ACDC Express store opened, it offered a completely new experience. It was the first specialist electrical retail store aimed at the household, contractor, industrial, agricultural, mining and manufacturing sectors.

“We offered a massive product range — 60 000 items, which has now grown to more than 75 000. What really made us stand out, though, was the retail store concept that mirrors the convenient and versatile shopping experience customers have become accustomed to in supermarkets,” says Maio.

“Having stock on display is a strong selling point because many of our customers are technical and hands-on people who like to touch, feel and compare products.”

A unique proposition

What makes an ACDC Express franchise such a favourable investment? According to Maio, its unique concept makes it very attractive.

“We’re the only electrical franchise store in the world, not just in South Africa. Even though we’re electrical specialists, stores aren’t limited to a single kind of customer. We serve everyone from DIY enthusiasts, to contractors and large corporates.”

Because of the relationship with ACDC Dynamics, stores can expect excellent margins when focusing on a mixture of industrial and retail customers.

‘Bible’ salesmen


To realise the dominance that ACDC Dynamics has in the market, one need only study the company’s industry catalogue.

“Everyone — from contractors to architects — has this catalogue,” says Maio. “In fact, it’s come to be called ‘the electrical bible’. Because of this in-depth specialist knowledge, we’re able to train franchisees and their staff to become experts in their own right — they needn’t have industry experience. Support and regular training doesn’t just help franchisees run their businesses well; it creates great customer service and value.”

Help from above

Apart from intensive training, ACDC also manages marketing and systems and keeps up to date with electrical developments, so franchisees can focus on sales and staff.

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ACDC Express has also developed a standardised and user-friendly IT infrastructure, which makes managing a store much easier.

“Before opening, we also get our franchisees to pack their stores after two weeks of training. It’s part of the process of getting to know their store and benefits them when helping customers,” says Maio.

The ideal franchisee

“We like owner/operators, as they’re 100% committed to the store, and are therefore better at driving growth,” says Maio. “A prospective franchisee needn’t have industry experience, but they must be willing to learn about products, procedures and systems for the store and staff.”


GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.

Company Posts

Muscle And Grill Is Your Daily Chef. We Provide Fresh, Nutritional Food At Affordable Prices

It isn’t always easy to stay in tune with both body and mind. We do all the prepping for you so that you can keep up your pursuit of greatness.

Muscle and Grill




Vital stats

Muscle and Grill is a healthy fast food establishment based in South Africa. In the face of modern South Africa, lives spent on the go require a fuel to match their aspirations while maintaining a delicious, fast and fresh service.

As our lives swirl into life’s vast depths of opportunity, our bodies are often the product of poor health habits, while trying to keep on the move to achieve our goals. Muscle and Grill challenges this. We want to be able to support the South Africa of tomorrow by offering the food your body needs to keep reaching new heights – to keep pushing the boundaries of accomplishment with health food convenience.

At Muscle and Grill we’ve got you covered. We provide nutritional fast food that is fresh and affordable. We have your health at heart. You could start your day off with some free-range scrambled eggs or fresh oats – for lunch a mixed bowl of rice, protein and fresh vegetables – or to round off your day, replenish your mind and body with a hearty health-infused burger and all its wholesome goodness. We have not forgotten that home constitutes a hungry family who have all been active, so grab a lean beef pasta salad with some greens on the side to go.

Related: SA Fast Food Franchising On The Rise

It isn’t always easy to stay in tune with both body and mind. We do all the prepping for you so that you can keep up your pursuit of greatness.

About us

It was once said that great ideas are born from ones’ frustrations. That is exactly how Muscle and Grill came about. Having no real on-the-go option to stay healthy, or having the time to prepare to be healthy, became a huge frustration for us. We struggled to find enough hours in the day to keep up with a busy lifestyle and still eat healthy while on the move. Our work came first and our lifestyles suffered.

The vision for Muscle and Grill is to make it possible to stay healthy on the go. We want healthy food to be easily accessible for all walks of life.

Our mission is to provide quality, healthy fast-food. The food we provide is delicious and will keep you coming back for more.



Muscle and Grill works on an almost self-service basis. The point of sale system is customer operated where you can select what meal you would like to have. Once payment has been processed electronically the kitchen staff will receive the order and prepare it to spec. Muscle and Grill will be a completely cashless business, making it super-efficient for consumers and business owners.

Related: 3 Crucial Considerations For New Multi-unit Franchisees

The concept of Muscle and Grill is partnered with Puré Frooty. Puré Frooty is a self-service smoothie bar which prepares smoothies for you at the touch of a button. You can have a store with or without a machine – the choice is yours. Both concepts look to promote the idea of healthy living on the go.

We’ve looked to compliment our values by looking after that which grounds us. Our packaging and utensils are all eco-friendly, as we believe ‘going-green’ is not just a choice of eating but of the environment too.

So, when you are ready to join the next revolution in the fast food industry contact Muscle and Grill at or visit the website at to inquire on our franchise options today. Achieve your goals, stay on the move and look after yourself through Muscle and Grill.

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Company Posts

Nando’s Is Firing Up The East

Carlos Duarte has been part of the Nando’s brand since inception. When his brother Fernando co-founded the flamed grilled chicken brand in 1987, Carlos soon participated in its success and today owns four highly successful franchises in Johannesburg — three in the east and one in the south. Here’s how it all began.






Vital Stats

  • Player: Carlos Duarte
  • Franchise: Nando’s
  • Position: Franchisee
  • Visit:

What were you doing before becoming a franchisee?

I was in the audio visual technology field, as an employee. Then I joined Nando’s as an assistant manager in the Savoy and Rosettenville corporate stores. Franchising was my first experience of entrepreneurship.

Why did you decide to become a franchisee?

When my brother, Fernando Duarte, launched Nando’s in 1987, I noticed its quick growth and wanted in on the action. Being assistant store manager prepared me for when the opportunity to run my own store came along soon after.

What prompted you to partner with Nando’s?

I joined Nando’s in 1991 as a joint venture partner. At the time, Nando’s hadn’t yet franchised its operations, and the JV partnership meant the brand owned 51% of the business, while I owned 49%. My first franchise store was in Edenglen in 2001.

Related: (Watch) Why Nando’s Is Clucking Its Way To The Top

Describe some of the challenges of running not one, but four franchise locations

At the Edenglen store, we initially battled with sales and getting feet into the store. To be honest, I think the area was overtraded at the time, so it wasn’t the best location. Since acquiring the store in Lambton, Germiston, another in Greenstone and a third in Comaro, I’ve learnt to be cleverer in how I do things — and how I handle some of the same challenges — and learn every day from the brand itself.

Name some of the benefits you’ve experienced as a Nando’s franchisee

Nando’s is 31 years old this year. We’re in 30-odd countries worldwide with thousands of stores across the globe. As franchisees, we leverage off the dynamism of an operational business that’s known for its marketing — customers talk about our ads and they love our food.

What kind of support do you receive from Nando’s as a multi-unit franchisee?

Besides the popular marketing campaigns that attract customers, Nando’s has an extensive training manual along with a skills development training consultant who comes to the store for two days to help staff understand and implement it. The training is really effective — it has to be as this industry involves a very high turnover of staff and new skills need to be taught often.

Why is it important for a franchisee to have a good banking partner?

As a franchisee, your bank should understand your business — from operating costs, to overdraft needs and revamping expenses — so it has cash available for loans that can be approved quickly, with minimal hassle. On the technical side, a reliable mPOS device is imperative, especially for us, because 30% of our sales volumes are from home and office deliveries. It’s a fundamental method of payment every bank should provide its customers of a similar nature.

What advice do you have for budding franchisees on seeking out a good franchise brand and banking partner for their business?

  • Do your research to ensure you’re partnering with a brand that is established, well-known and expect to pay a fair price for that franchise.
  • Be aware of how the franchise brand is perceived in the market and what location opportunities are available to you as a franchisee.
  • Choose a banking facility that always has the funds available to grow your business.
  • Ensure the bank understands the brand’s business model and where you’re falling short.

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Make Your Business A Good Neighbour

Take your business from invisible and struggling to a thriving neighbourhood landmark.

Richard Mukheibir




Is your business invisible to your customers? You may have fewer customers than you would like because your business does not seem relevant to those in your neighbourhood. This is an even bigger mistake than not being able to reach beyond your direct trading area.

To appeal to people – customers – you should also present your business as a group of people who help other people. This can be helping supply them with goods they need to buy, helping provide them with loans or simply being a reassuring and consistent presence in your neighbourhood.

As our Local Area Marketing Manager, Juan Botha, tells Cash Converters’ franchisees, this is about blending and fitting in like a neighbour. It is about give and take. And all of that adds up to community engagement.

Related: Effective Ways To Bring Customers To Your Door

Here are six of his top tips:

  1. Introduce the family: Cultivate a friendly, welcoming atmosphere in your shop or office. Introduce new staff to regular customers. Make sure that new customers can get to know staff through your in-store welcome boards and name badges.
  2. Find your partners: Identify the gatekeepers in your community and create partnerships with them. Think about approaching sports clubs, schools, church groups, sewing circles and book clubs.
  3. Snatch some selfies: If you have local celebrities as customers, take a selfie and post it on your social media: “Guess who came to say hello today . . .” Build relationships with local heroes and you will be able to call on them to host your in-house fun day or charity drive.
  4. Give back to business: Be involved in local business chambers and groupings as more than a participant. Show you are a good business neighbour by facilitating speed networking, hosting a speaker or sponsoring a sound system or catering for the next meeting.
  5. Adopt a cause: Identify a local charity and rally support for it.
  6. Help the community: Launch or participate in a community project – anything from an area clean-up or helping repaint school classrooms to planting trees or a community vegetable garden.

Building relationships helps you build your business’s reputation. That is because you can make people start to feel a certain way about your business and influence them positively towards you. Then, when they need something that you supply, you will be top of mind.

That neighbourhood warmth creates a sense of ownership. These prospective customers will already know how you can benefit their lives and so are more likely to become your regular customers.

They will be acting on the fact that people remember you for the experience you give them. As top American writer Maya Angelou said, their memories will be shaped by how you make them feel – not how or what you make them think. Relationships may be intangible but they can bring real value to your business.

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