The editor of Global Franchise’s U.K.-centric sister publication, What Franchise, provides an update on the hopeful future of the industry
Franchising continues to flourish in the U.K., despite the battering the country’s economy has taken as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
Significant redundancies as businesses were forced to close because of government-imposed restrictions meant a spike in interest in the tried and tested way to become your own boss, with people attracted to a proposition that provides full training and support and the added comfort of an established name to operate under.
Surge in inquiries
Visitor levels to what-franchise.com increased dramatically throughout 2020 and continue to remain high during 2021, as prospective franchisees search our franchise directory and look for expert advice on starting their own business.
In the latest issue of What Franchise magazine, our What’s Hot Powerbrands report identifies the home improvement, care, outdoor, commercial cleaning, and tutoring sectors as popular areas for investors right now.
“Historically, the U.K. franchise industry has prospered when times are tough”
In addition, we’ve also noticed hospitality and fitness/gym businesses bouncing back strongly, many announcing ambitious expansion plans that will see them establishing a presence in even more parts of the country.
The U.K. also continues to be a popular destination for international franchisors, further bolstering the domestic market, which has been valued at £17.2bn annually – an increase of £2.1bn since 2015 – and encompasses around 900 brands, twice the amount that were operating in 1996.
While its resilience and continued expansion is hugely positive for our industry, it’s also uplifting to witness how diverse franchising in the U.K. is.
People entering franchising from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are growing in number and there have never been so many female franchisees making their mark in the sector – as well as their local communities – which has been highlighted by the events and awards recognizing their substantial achievements, which supplement the U.K.’s already busy event calendar.
More younger people are buying franchises too, while already established franchisees are looking to take on more units and even become multi-brand owners.
Still work to be done
While all these elements combined paints a picture of a dynamic industry, there’s still work to be done to promote franchising to an even wider audience in the U.K. Efforts are ongoing, but it can be argued that a ‘one voice’ approach, with all parts of the sector coming together in a coordinated campaign, is what’s needed, but would require a considerable investment in time and money.
Nevertheless, the industry is in pretty good shape considering the events of 2020-2021.
Historically, the U.K. franchise industry has prospered when times are tough. It will continue to be the case long into the future.
Jeff James is editor of What Franchise magazine, which focuses on the dynamic U.K. sector.