From small startups to globally known brands, franchises have become a growing part of the European business landscape. For one night in Brussels last week, the European Franchise Federation shone the spotlight on some of the pioneers and visionaries behind thriving franchise businesses, during a glittering ceremony in our rainy city.
The heavily anticipated European Franchise Awards unfurled the red carpet to honour the spirit of entrepreneurship and the remarkable individuals who are transforming franchises into household names. From breakthrough innovations in sustainable business to job empowerment services, to building burger and coffee franchises and home service operators who have navigated challenges and harnessed opportunities, rewriting the rules of success.
Awards were given in seven categories:
An award for a young company that has shown a real passion for the brand and for franchising over recent years.
The judging panel was inspired by stories that showed individuals succeeding beyond their potential. We also wanted the winners to go that little bit further in showing support provided to the franchise network to grow.
Bronze: Keukencoach – Netherlands
A unique kitchen design company from the Netherlands, KeukenCoach, from a couple of industry veterans with big plans ahead.
Silver: Taobento – France
Food service based on quality products cooked in store in front of the customer. Combining customized choices with quick turnaround takeaway, delivery or eat in all available.
Gold: JobCenter – Sweden
A wonderful concept. Offering a safe path to employment for people who are outside the labor market. Motivational activities, individual guidance and supervisors with a wide, local network of contacts.
The Special Award for Services to Franchising goes to all of those individuals and companies that go beyond normal business practice to support franchising and have dedicated their careers to fulfilling that role.
Individuals who make franchising work and help turn dreams into reality.
Bronze: Martine de Koning – Netherlands
One of Europe’s leading competition and franchise law experts who assists blue chip companies, industry associations and individual franchise operations to overcome legal challenges.
Silver: Platinum Wave – UK
Platinum Wave work with business owners to help them franchise their businesses, both in the UK and internationally.
Gold: FranichiseArkitekt – Sweden
Helps companies that want to build, improve or expand their franchise network. Able to field a team of 17 across Scandinavia. A first class operation.
Innovation and Sustainability
This is a new category that recognises the importance in investing in net zero activities as well as the key challenge of digitisation and innovation. We see the category growing in importance every year, with Sustainability in particular becoming more embedded in the franchise business.
The judges had a dead heat and awarded two gold trophies.
Bronze: Attila – France
Whether for roof repair, development or maintenance, ATTILA offers a complete, innovative and personalized offer.
Gold: Vom Fass – Germany
Focusing on promoting biodiversity in food production and a commitment to environmentally friendly and socially responsible action including adoption of science-based targets.
Gold: Kotipizza – Finland
Kotipizza Group’s mission is to be on the good side. Although it is not possible to solve all the world’s problems, Kotipizza Group wants to do its best and be proud of its partners, entrepreneurs and employees.
Destined for European brands that have succeeded in expanding outside of their domestic market and have sustained that growth over a number of years.
We welcome entries that have gone outside of Europe in particular and have excelled in maintaining their brand values and image, and a consistent quality of service.
Bronze: MBE Worldwide – Italy
MBE Worldwide is a privately-owned company based in Milan. A third-party provider of shipping, fulfillment, print and marketing solutions to SMEs and retail consumers via a network of mainly independently owned and operated locations.
Silver: Museum of Illusions – Croatia
The first Museum of Illusions launched in Zagreb, Croatia in 2015 and has since become a recognizable global brand and leading “edutainment“ attraction. Each state-of-the-art museum offers an exciting and interactive journey for all age groups while explaining the science and mechanics behind enthralling optical illusions through fun and games.
Gold: Midas International – France
Founded in 1956, today Midas has grown to over 2,100 locations worldwide. In the early days, they sold the best muffler on the market and it included a national warranty “for as long as you own your car.” This was unheard of and soon, other companies followed their lead.
Franchisor of the Year
The prize for Franchisor of the Year is always the most eagerly anticipated.
The judges were looking for brands that steered the business through a difficult period, ensured franchisees had constant support and assistance, and were strong advocates for ethical franchising and the EFF Code.
Bronze: Revive – UK
Revive! provides a high quality, mobile and cost effective repair service for minor vehicle paintwork and alloy wheel damage.
Silver: Spar – Netherlands
Today Spar is the world’s largest food retail voluntary chain with a rapidly growing presence globally. The SPAR concept was established on the basis of wholesalers and retailers working in partnership to the benefit of all, including customers.
Gold: Fornetti – Hungary
Established in 1997 Fornetti Group is the largest frozen bakery producer and retail partner in Eastern Europe; the Group employs over 1500 employees, working across Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, and sells its distinctive Baking Concept and innovative products in over 14 countries across Europe.
Franchisee of the Year
This is about individuals and their stories. Being a successful franchisee requires someone who can recruit the best people, treat them with respect, stay true to the brand and go beyond the norm.
The prizes for the winning candidates went to those franchisees that showed a track record of strong overall development and innovation, a high level of care for staff and collaboration with other franchisees within the system.
Bronze: Arnault Fouriaux, Burger King – France
Arnault is a former Quick executive who now runs 6 Burger King restaurants in the Toulouse region in France, with 400 employees that he actively guides, represents and motivates every day. His record of achievement speaks for itself and who knows how much further his network will grow.
Silver: Karsten Bucksch, Home Instead – Germany
A former geriatric nurse, Karsten opened his business October 2020 who is dedicated to spending time with seniors, the sick and disabled and doing that as a franchise partner of Home Instead. He almost doubled his revenue target in the first two years and is a passionate franchisee and above all, someone who cares.
Gold: Jessie Lilley, BabyBallet – UK
Babyballet is an award-winning dance brand providing classes, parties, uniform, merchandise, events, entertainment, stage shows and franchising. With over 100 franchised sites globally. Jessie is a unique individual who brings her entire persona into her role as a franchisee.
Hall of Fame
The EFF created the European Hall of Fame this year. We are delighted that our first entries into the Hall of Fame are such energetic and self-effacing individuals who are a credit to franchising.
Karsten was awarded the Gold Trophy in the 2023 Hall of Fame in recognition of his work in Brussels at the European Commission and subsequently in Germany with the law firm Noerr, in helping formulate the 2022 Vertical Block Exemption Regulation.
He is a member of the EFF’s Legal Committee and one of the leading legal minds in our industry.
Farrah Rose has been at the heart of international franchising for more than 40 years, playing a pivotal role in promoting ethical franchising in both developed and emerging markets all around the world. Based in the UK, she is a multi-award winner in franchising worldwide and a huge figure in our industry.
Kata is a franchise network developer who sees herself as a community-oriented individual, with an enthusiasm for life and her peers since childhood. Alongside these, Kata sees business as the gift of life and is a legend in her native Hungary.
Guy was elected in 2012 and 2016 as Chair of the European Franchise Federation. His dedication in promoting, developing and defending the interests of franchising as well as the coordination between the various associations in Europe and around the world was second to none. He was also in charge of monitoring legislative proposals initiated by the European Commission to ensure the development of franchising across Europe.
If there is one person who is synonymous with franchising in Finland, it is undoubtedly Henri Laakso. A veteran of Finnish franchising, Laakso is not only widely respected but also just as widely liked for his can-do attitude, willingness to help, and wry humour. Since founding FranCon Franchise Consulting in 1994, Laakso has worked with virtually every franchising chain operating in Finland.
The AFFLELOU Group is one of the European leaders in the franchise of optical equipment and hearing aids with more than 1461 locations worldwide in 20 countries.