Franchising: Where will it go next?
Pip Wilkins, CEO of the British Franchise Association, walks us through her ideas for franchising in 2019 and why 2018 has been the most successful in the sector’s history.
The bfa was founded more than 40 years ago to establish ethical franchising standards in the UK and since then, we have seen this industry go from strength to strength. Starting from a few founder members concerned their ethical business models were being tainted with other unethical practices, the association, and the sector, have continued to grow.
And from the results from the 2018 bfa NatWest Franchise Survey, it is clear that the industry as a whole is only getting stronger. Not only is franchising generating billions for the UK economy with £17.2 billion generated in 2018 and seeing 710,000 people in employment, it has also become a dynamic and exciting place to work.
Diversity is increasing
Go back in time, even 20 years ago when I first joined the bfa, and although franchising was growing, the status quo was rather predictable. Diversity wasn’t exactly prevalent, and the sector struggled to shake the perception it was all fast food and you had to be exceptionally wealthy to start running your own franchise. Now, there are more women, ethnic minorities and younger people involved than ever with a 20% increase in new female franchisees and 18% of all franchisees now being under 30. This brings fresh outlooks and ideas to create a sustainable and modernised industry.
The diversity of businesses you can franchise has also grown beyond recognition with there now being 48,600 franchised units in the UK in 2018, and 4 in 10 systems which can be run from a home office. Personally, I have never been more excited to see where we head next, and I relish the opportunity to continue helping the industry branch out, diversify, and enable the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Scotland… a land of opportunity?
So the big question is…what’s next for franchising? The results from the latest bfa NatWest Franchise Survey have shown growth throughout the UK and remains in excellent health. Only Scotland has shown a decline over the last 3 years in regard to the implied annual turnover of the region with 2% decrease. I see this only as an opportunity to tap into the potential that Scotland has for franchising. The bfa holds Scottish Franchise Week every year in order to develop that untapped potential and meet prospective Scottish entrepreneurs, as well as pushing franchisors to increase their portfolio in the region. I look forward to exploring the vast Scottish franchise possibilities in 2019, and I believe we shall see sharp growth in the region over the coming years with this sustained push.
An inclusive industry
Franchising is very much an all-inclusive industry, one that I believe is welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable, where best practice is not only shared, but actively encouraged. This is why the industry has evolved rapidly throughout the last couple of decades. The welcoming attitude of franchising has introduced a wealth of people from all walks of life and from all backgrounds. In 2019, I aim to continue to expand on this inclusivity, making bfa flagship events such as Scottish Franchise Week and Empowering Women In Business even bigger and better than before. These events are essential for bringing in new voices, ideas and providing the perfect platform for networking opportunities.
2019 is going to be bigger and better than ever. Watch this space!