Franchises are extremely popular across industries. Currently, over 120 industries have options for franchises. Normally, this would entitle a franchise to receive help with their site selection and development support, operating manuals, brand standards, quality control, training and business advisory support from the franchisor.

It’s simple to notice why franchises are continuously appearing. Here, we look at some of the UK’s top franchises, how they got there and what we can learn from them.

Wetherspoon’s
History
The chain was originally 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.

Things started moving even faster shortly after. They moved out of London in 1993 and opened pubs in Bracknell and Norwich. 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.

It was noticeable that the company was able to adapt, with free Wi-Fi added to all of their pubs, and the first wedding being held in 2007. 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.

What can businesses learn from Wetherspoon?
It’s noticeable that location is significant, and people adore offers. Wetherspoon’s have succeeded most by being flexible and adapting to their environment.

Key business features
Key travel locations: The chain always focuses on where they are based and you can find them in busy travel locations, including train stations and airports. 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: The festival spirit is embraced at Wetherspoon. They currently are involved in a biannual beer festival with 60 beers on tap.

Meal deals: The Wetherspoon meal deal is very popular. They include the initial Curry Club and Steak Club, Chicken Club, Fish Friday and Sunday Brunch and offer a drink alongside them.


Lookers Group
History
In 1908 Manchester, John Looker founded the automotive 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.

As the country fought during the Second World War, the Austin factory committed itself to the war effort. 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.

In present day, Lookers is noticed as being one of the UK’s top three motoring retailers. Selling a range of new and used cars across 32 manufacturers and 150 franchised dealerships.

Key business features

Value your people: The Group was acknowledged as a top employer in the UK 2017 and 2018. 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.


Greggs
Key business features
Keep it local: Today, Greggs is the home to nearly 1,700 shops nationwide, but they are still rooted in their local communities. That means that, while there is the popular national range, regional favourites can be found in their stores depending on where you are.

History

The delivery service by John Gregg in the 1930s is where Greggs began. He delivered eggs and yeast on his pushbike to families 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 began running the family 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 underway, with more than 260 shops being situated 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.

Thanks to the ready-made business model provided by a franchise, and the fact you can keep your skills sharp while joining an already thriving business, you may feel as though you have a greater chance of success. 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!

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