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THE BRITISH FRANCHISE ASSOCIATION


THE UK' S VOLUNTARY S ELF - REGUL ATING GOVERNING BODY FOR FRANCHI SING


PIP WILKINS Chief executive, bfa


Fra nchising in the UK and beyond


Pip Wilkins of the British Franchise Association looks at how UK brands approach international expansion and talks Franchisee of the Year


I


n uncertain times, I fi nd it’s a relief to note that franchising in the UK has, so far, remained unaffected – in


fact, it’s fl ourishing! This is evident by the £17.2billion turnover generated in 2018, up £2.1billion since 2015, according to the 2018 bfa NatWest Franchise Survey. The results from the survey have also revealed that while franchisees and franchisors are anxious about the UK economy, they continue to feel confi dent about their own business, having faith that they will be able to weather any storms that may be on the horizon. It’s this confi dence that spurs many UK-based franchisors on to increase their international presence, with one in three UK franchisors currently maintaining


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overseas operations. And of franchisors with a UK-only network at present, around a third of these are highly amenable to the idea of international expansion.


Tailored approach to new territory Entering a new market is not easy, and thorough research, analysis and testing needed. It is of course essential to have a proven business model and an established franchise system before attempting to crack a new overseas region. Stagecoach Performing Arts, a children’s theatre school franchise, is an example of an established UK brand that has managed to enter various international markets, including Canada, Germany, Australia, Malta, Spain, Gibraltar and


South Africa. Andrew Walters, director of international business development at Stagecoach Performing Arts, explains how it managed to make the leap, stating: “Prior to any market launch we invest heavily in mapping solutions, demographic and market research. This data forms the basis of each country strategy, allowing us in Germany, for instance, to adapt our marketing focus to match parent expectations for a less education-oriented and more play-focused programme. It is also used to set effective franchise territories that we know have the right population, size and profi le to succeed.” Ultimately, success in a new country comes down to recruiting the right franchisees.


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