The Future of the Franchise
The UK is home to some of the world’s top franchises and every day new examples are popping up all around us. That’s because, whether it’s a fast-food establishment, an automotive company or a chain of pubs, it can be a route to market for business hopefuls. There are currently more than 120 industries that include franchised companies. Usually, the franchisee in this business will receive help with their site selection and development support, operating manuals, brand standards, quality control, training and business advisory support from the franchisor.
Here, we take a look at three large franchises in the UK:
A delivery service for eggs and yeast was set up by John Gregg in the 1930s in Newcastle upon Tyne. It was after having this delivery service that helped local families bake their own bread for over 10 years that John Gregg opened a small bakery on Gosforth High Street in 1951. It was a single shop with a bakery at the rear. This allowed Greggs to begin baking quality bread with flour that was milled from specially selected wheat for that distinctive Greggs taste and texture.
Following the death of his father, Ian Gregg took over the business in 1964. Under Ian’s leadership, Greggs developed a good reputation for selling products which were quality and of great value. The company also started to grow in size by buying regional bakery retailers across the United Kingdom and, by the 1970s, they had shops in Scotland, Yorkshire and the North West.
By 1984, the company’s expansion was well with over 260 shops open in four areas of the country. For the first time ever, Greggs was on the Stock Exchange and they continued to expand, opening shops in the Midlands, Wales and North London. By investing in a large Technical Centre, the company was able to focus on developing an array of new recipes while improving old favourites. This highlights that Greggs continued its rapid growth during the noughties.
Key business features
Keep it local: With close to 1,700 shops across the UK, Greggs know they must still keep it local. That means that, while there is the popular national range, regional favourites can be found in their stores depending on where you are.
In the beginning, Wetherspoon’s was called Martin’s Free House. The first Wetherspoon was opened from a former bookmakers’ store in North London in 1979, before changing its name to Wetherspoon earlier the following year. The company’s chains initially only expanded in North London. The company opened its first pub which had a no-smoking bar in 1991 in North Finchley, before moving more into Central London, with their first pub in Liverpool Street Station. The following year, the first airport pub was opened in Heathrow and in the same year they were also named J D Wetherspoon plc, opening their 50th pub.
Then, things kept moving quicker and the company branched out of London in 1993, opening venues in Norwich and Bracknell. By 1994, the chain had reached an impressive 100 pubs and ventured as far north as the Midlands. The business kept expanding and moving into new territory throughout the 90s, with further establishments opened in Manchester, Wales and Scotland. 1998 saw the 300th pub open and its rapid expansion saw them reach 500 pubs being open by 2001. The 600-mark was reached in 2002 as the breakfast revolution got underway as all pubs opened six days a week to serve the first meal of the day.
The company adapted well to change, adding free Wi-Fi to all of their pubs. Then, in 2007 the first wedding was held. The 700th pub was launched in 2008, with the 800th following in 2011 and 900th in 2013. Nowadays, the company employs over 35,000 staff, and owns 948 pubs and hotels.
Key business features
Key travel locations: It’s important that the chains are placed in key travel locations, such as airports and train stations. You can currently find them in Aberdeen, Birmingham International, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Liverpool John Lennon, Heathrow, Gatwick, Glasgow and Stansted airports, and near train stations around London, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow.
Festival spirit: Wetherspoon embraces festival seasons. They currently are involved in a biannual beer festival with 60 beers on tap.
Meal deals: The Wetherspoon meal deal menu is extremely popular. They include the initial Curry Club and Steak Club, Chicken Club, Fish Friday and Sunday Brunch and offer a drink alongside them.
In Manchester in 1908, John Looker founded his company. By 1910, the business had forged with a garage owner in the centre of Manchester. Primarily a Ford dealer until the First World War, the company was thriving so much that the garage had to be rebuilt in 1911 to accommodate all the business that it had generated. It was appointed a distributor of Austin motor vehicles in 1918 and continued its growth by acquiring a number of garages in Lancashire and Cheshire. John Looker retired in 1929, but the business didn’t falter.
During World War Two, the Austin factory was committed to the efforts of war as the country continued to fight. Fast forward a few decades and the business’s first major acquisition took place in the 60s when the Group moved into Yorkshire. By 1973, their headquarters had moved from Hardman Street to Chester Road – their current base today. At the same time, the company became a listed company on the London Stock Exchange.
Nowadays, Lookers are proudly sitting in the top three motor vehicle retailers in the UK, offering a variety of car service parts and representing 32 manufacturers across their 150 franchised dealerships.
Key business features
Value your people: In 2017 and 2018, the Group received top employer UK accreditations, showing that it recognises the need to look after your staff. By acquiring several local businesses, including Benfield, the Group understood the need to keep the local feel of the businesses while softly implementing their own touch.
Franchises can help you join an already thriving business and provide you with a ready-made business model. It’s clear that the franchise world is going to continue growing, regardless of the industry you choose. So, budding business owners out there, make sure you research any possible franchises that could be of interest to you before jumping in feet first with your idea!