Interview with Yehia Samman – MBE Putney Branching out2022 is set to be a landmark year for Yehia Samman. After working in the MBE Kensington (Gloucester Road) centre for many years, he is about to open his own MBE centre in Putney.“It’s a big step for me, becoming a franchisee myself,” he says. “I decided to take the plunge because I want to have freedom to implement my own business ideas. I have plenty of experience and I really know and understand the MBE concept. So now is the time to capitalise on that.”Yehia worked at the MBE Kensington centre, where he is currently manager, from 2003 to 2006 and then again from 2012, so much of his career has been spent there. “I really like the business because there are so many opportunities to grow and develop a store,” he continues. “I think the single most important aspect of customer retention is relationships. I enjoy building those relationships, finding out what people want and evolving the offering to take advantage of new opportunities.”One example of this entrepreneurial approach is the addition of binding at the Kensington centre. “I saw that more and more customers were asking for heat binding, so I looked into it and recommended that we start offering it. This has been a great success.”Tailoring the service offering to local needs is also crucial. “At the current centre, we’re very well placed in an area with colleges and universities, so we build loyalty by offering them special discounts, which has worked well.”Growth plansAlthough the store at Putney is already a thriving MBE business, Yehia has already spotted plenty of opportunities to grow and develop it. “I think it needs some work to begin with, but I’ll definitely be looking to build up the customer base,” he explains. “People do appreciate great customer service – it keeps them coming back. I want to have my regular customers and attract new customers too, in the first year. “I believe there’s potential to increase the B2B side of things – there are plenty of local schools, colleges, solicitors, offices – and I’ve had good experience of developing these accounts. With the Kensington centre, we took over an MBE branch in Belgravia and doubled the turnover in two years.”With a projected opening before Christmas, Yehia won’t have long to wait before realising his ambitions with his very own MBE centre.