Jim’s Cleaning Group is offering to give every sacked worker from the collapsed Godfreys vacuum cleaner chain their own business.
When Jim’s Cleaning Group founder Haydar Hussein heard that up to 171 Godfreys staff faced the sack after the collapse of the vacuum cleaner chain on January 30, it hit him on an emotional level.
“I had a business relationship with them, and I’ve been in and out of their stores for the last 10 years or so,” says Hussein. “I probably know most of them personally, but the other side of it is, they’re an iconic brand in our industry.”
And while Godfreys had the problem of too few customers, Hussein had the opposite problem. Jim’s Cleaning Group has been knocking back work all over the country because of a lack of franchisees. He saw a win-win for himself and the 171 Godfreys staff, and decided to offer them all free franchises which are worth between $20,000 and $35,000, he says.
“They have a passion for cleaning and so do we. I just thought it was a perfect fit. I think the staff there would work with us. And if there’s something I can do, why not?”
Godfreys has been selling vacuum cleaners since 1931 and grew to 141 stores with 600 staff before it’s decline. It shuttered its remaining 50 stores in Australia and New Zealand on January 30, with staff left in limbo.
“It’s just a shame, you know, for an iconic brand like that to lose staff. If there’s something I can do, why not?”Haydar Hussein
Jim’s Cleaning Group was founded by Hussein in 2001 and has about 1,500 franchisees, making it the second largest of the 50 divisions in the Jim’s Group empire – behind Jim’s Mowing which has about 2,200 franchisees.
Hussein said an average solo cleaning franchisee could expect to make $1,500 a week. More if they worked weekends and/or employed staff. “I’ve heard stories of people making $3,000 up to $5,000 a week. And then we have some franchisees with over 20 staff.”
He said because of the nature of the franchise business he could not say what Jim’s Cleaning Group’s total turnover was, but estimated it conservatively at $150 million.
He said there was nothing stopping anybody from taking a free franchise and then selling it. “I hope that doesn’t happen. There’s a lot of things that we need to do internally to make this work, to set these people up. So I’m putting my hand in my own pocket. But if that’s really what they needed to do, I suppose I can close an eye to it.”
To get a franchise would require 10 days of training and the franchisee would need to pay for supplies like uniforms and cleaning equipment.
Godfreys’ key shareholder is Adelaide’s Johnston family which has reportedly been funding the company’s losses for some time before Godfrey’s breached its covenant on an overdrawn $31.3 million loan in 2022.
The Johnston family had previously sold the business to Pacific Equity Partners and Unitas Capital for $300 million in 2006.
The new owners put too much debt into the business and John Johnston (with investment bank Nomura) bought it back for $100 million in 2011. It floated on the ASX at $2.75 in 2014 but was again bought back by Johnston, then aged 100, in 2018 for just 33.5 cents per share. He died soon after.