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New Year, Fresh Career? Franchise Opportunity in the Burgeoning Female Sex Market with Sh! Women's Erotic Emporium

80% of women would prefer to buy their erotic goods in a bricks and mortar store, rather than online.With “find a better job” on many folk’s New Year Resolutions list, a career-move being your own boss in the erotic industry maybe a canny move as well as a rewarding and fun proposition.

It appears the days of dark, porn-filled joints are numbered and women are taking over this traditionally male-orientated business, both behind and in front of the counter.

It started in 1992, with Sh!, the UK’s first boutique-style sex shop, which many industry insiders credit as the touch paper which started the real female revolution in the sex industry.

From humble beginnings (the first shop was established on only £700) Sh! has attracted many accolades;ETO Most Innovative Store Award, Time Out Best 100 Shops in London & WWS Top 10 Best Erotic Retailers in the World.

Now in its 20th year, Sh! is planning to open branches of its ‘Women’s Erotic Emporium’ across the UK to respond to a burgeoning market that is simply not being served.

Kathryn Hoyle, Managing Director, who founded Sh! after a trip to buy a vibrator had revealed an experience that was either “tacky, sleezy or 100% directed at men” comments; “Sh! kick started a long over due change in this industry, where half the population was being ignored. Our stores, and the women & couples who come to them, have forced the industry to sit up and takes note. This has resulted in better toy design, improved quality and more female-friendly shopping environments and websites. No-one does it quite so well as Sh! however and we want to introduce our unique vision to cities across the UK”

The female erotic market, already big business in Britain, is forecasted to grow exponentially. According to market analyst company,Hewson Group , it is currently worth around £250m in the UK and may be worth over £1bn within 5 years.

Whilst the demand is huge, supply was deemed to be somewhat lacking; The Hewson research revealed that few businesses successfully cater to the female market and that "Sh! is closer to a model that the female shopper is happy with"

What makes Sh! so in tune with today’s erotic market, when high-street chains fall less of the mark? Customers comments in the store visitors book are revealing: “the store is warm, friendly and approachable” “products are good quality and never tacky” “everything is displayed so it can be handled, felt, tasted, played with, tried on etc” “the all-female sales staff are sensitive sexperts – full of advice but never pushy, plus they serve you tea!”

The fact that Sh! is committed to creating a female-friendly space may also be key to the success of their concept; men are welcome but are asked to visit with a woman or, if alone, to shop on “Gents Nights”. It seems that just like lingerie; women want a sanctuary in which to buy their sex toys

At odds with the general trend, the Hewson research revealed that nearly 80% of women would prefer to buy their erotic goods in a bricks and mortar store, rather than online.

For Hoyle, this comes as no surprise “Just like a pair of shoes, buying an intimate item such as a sex toy or lubricant is hugely personal and buying hands-on is the only way to be certain of making the right choice. Shopping in store is also a sexy, liberating and thrilling experience that shopping online just can’t compete with”

So, what qualities do you need to start a new career serving the women of the UK with sex toys and other erotic accoutrements?

“Anyone who thinks it’s a fast, easy way to make mega bucks need not apply” says Hoyle “Just like starting any business it will be hard work, especially at first, but from day one it will be rewarding”

“When a woman or a couple enters your shop a bag of nerves and leaves confidently swinging a bagful of goodies, you know you have done something wonderful”