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A change of focus as Boom goes Rogue

A change of focus as Boom goes Rogue

091223_09
Ash Eason, owner of Rogue’s two Phnom Penh franchises, says that a large part of his job is keeping up with the latest fashion trends.

Formerly the Boom Boom Room, Rogue Music and Media aims to expand products in 2010

In the last year we have been focusing a lot on selling new and secondhand iPods."

ROGUE Music and Media is gearing up its merchandise and secondhand iPod sales in order to diversify its business away from digital music downloads, according to Simon Oliver, the owner of the popular Cambodia franchise.

The firm, which was set up as Boom Boom Room in 2001, was the first in Cambodia to offer uploads of digital music, and although it always offered a line of hand-printed T-shirts and clothing, these were becoming more more central to the business, he said by email from the United Kingdom. Rogue was also expanding its business into repairing pre-owned iPods.

“In the last year we have been focusing a lot on selling new and secondhand iPods, storage devices and accessories,” he said.

Originally set up in 2002 in Phnom Penh’s tourism-centric lakeside district, the firm is also expanding into new locations with the opening of a franchise in the newly opened Lazy Gecko Cafe on Street 258, having also launched a store in Kampot. It also operates long-standing franchises in Sihanoukville and Siem Reap.

Oliver said the name change was made to develop a more professional image, though the owner of the new franchise in the Lazy Gecko, Ash Eason, confirmed it was also a simple way of distancing the chain from a copycat store that had borrowed the name.

Eason, who owns the Lazy Gecko Cafe on Street 258 as well as a cafe of the same name in Lakeside – where he also runs the original Rogue outlet, said the new location would help grow the expat market and enable the retailer and the cafe to play off each others’ strengths “as they are both well known around town”.

“When people are eating, they like to flip through the Rogue catalogues and see what we sell,” he said.

According to Eason, Oliver is the creative force behind the business, responsible for designing the eclectic range of T-shirts available in the shops. The pair scour local markets together, Eason said, “keeping up to date” with the latest trends.

A large part of the business involves searching for clothing from Phnom Penh suppliers the pair consider “cool” in order to sell it at the firm’s five locations.

Eason claimed success in most of the product lines on offer, saying “pretty much everything sells”, though he declined to give figures.
Responsibility for finding and fixing up discarded iPods, another popular product, lay with Eason.

“Lots of travellers have their iPods go missing or broken, sometimes they get wet at the beach,” he said, adding Rogue worked hard at maintaining its reputation of only selling quality used products.

Staffing for the location was minimal, he said, with just one Cambodian employee at Rogue’s newest location, who runs the show when Eason is away.

He declined to give the salary, but said it was fairly substantial given the large degree of responsibility that came with the job.

Of the employee, “she is basically trained to do everything I do”, said Eason, which frees him up in his efforts to continually improve the product selections available through interaction with his favourite sources, he added.

Staff incentives
Oliver said the firm topped up salaries with commissions and bonuses. “I believe that happy staff are imperative in a successful retail business.”
Eason, who also owns a newly opened fish-and-chip delivery shop and a Jeep tours business, said the success of his multiple ventures led to a hectic existence.

“But it’s enough to keep me here for the long term,” he said.

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