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Closing out 2019, you’d be forgiven for thinking that franchising is taking over the world. Brands from every corner of the globe are taking their business overseas with experienced master franchisees, and intriguing concepts – from celebrity-backed fitness centers to pioneering cannabis retail offerings – are taking off like never before. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, though. For the casual observer, the franchise industry can seem like a fervent, swarming hive of deals and activity. To help you stay afloat among the sea of press releases and pullouts, we’ve spoken with some of the biggest brands making waves in the new year.
Despite being founded in 2011, Barrecore has steadily and sustainably grown its portfolio, perfected its business model, and is now looking to dominate the boutique space. The brand operates 13 boutique gyms throughout the U.K., and has global goals. But it won’t let ambition supersede quality.
“We believe, from the core of our very first studio to our future 100th studio, that if we are not creating a feeling of aspiration and inspiration in everything we do then there is no point in doing any of it,” says Niki Rein, founder and creative director. “This is why we are looking for the right franchise partner that believes in the Barrecore brand ethos who wants to carry the vision forward.”
There’s never been a better time to jump into the boutique game, as the attractive industry is generating upward of $87.5bn worldwide. Barrecore’s keen to explore this wider market, with aims to cover the EU and Asia-Pacific regions first, but sustainable infrastructure is at the core of its growth.
“We are eager to grow our franchise partnerships, but only looking to do a limited and focused number [of openings] each year,” says Rein.
This brand was one of several of Fransmart’s new partnerships last year, and stood out with its strong Latin American roots and family-oriented origins.
Making a name for itself in LA since 2008, Cook’s Tortas closed out 2019 with one goal in mind: to bring premium Mexican cuisine to a wider audience.
“We don’t just make tortas,” explains Elyan Zamora, CEO. “We make gourmet Mexican sandwiches, so quality is paramount! Cook’s Tortas offers a diverse torta menu. There is truly something for everyone, making us readily available and open to the entire world.”
The brand may only have a small footprint for now, but the endless online buzz is a testament to its lasting appeal. 2020 could be the year that the torta becomes a household delicacy.
Marco’s Pizza is a big name in the $45bn-a-year pizza industry, having recently surpassed 900 openings across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. But the authentic auteur isn’t done yet: the 1,000th opening sits on the nearby horizon, and beyond that, plans to open upward of 50 international sites by 2025.
“We’re by no means done expanding,” says Ron Sitwell, chief development officer. “We haven’t saturated the market, which means there are exponential growth opportunities. In fact, there are still 15 states that we have yet to break into.” These include the likes of Denver, Virginia, and Florida.
Marco’s looks well beyond the numbers, though, and focuses on what really matters: people. Specifically, the talented, empathetic entrepreneurs who provide the backbone of the beloved brand.
“Our 900th milestone location opened in Puerto Rico, and while planning for the store opening, Hurricane Maria struck; leaving the island in a state of devastation,” explains Sitwell. “Through determination and collaboration, our team was able to reopen all six locations that closed due to the hurricane and continue the development of others – including the 900th milestone. Our franchisees, Edgardo Beniquez and Luisaliz Rivera, were tremendous assets who provided community support during the rebuild while also working tirelessly with our corporate team to open the historic location.”
The secret behind one of the world’s favorite pizza brands isn’t lost on Ron Sitwell: “Once you recognize how valuable other people are to your success, the sky’s the limit for what you’re capable of achieving.”
We’ve written plenty about Mayweather Boxing + Fitness as of late, and that’s in no small part due to the boutique boxing brand’s unwavering commitment to explosive growth. The franchise signed up over 100 new locations in less than a year since commencing business, and as 2020 gets underway, many of these gyms are scheduled to open.
“Our track record has given us a very solid foundation from which to continue to bring on exceptional quality franchisees and help them generate long-term value,” says James Williams, CEO. “A big focus in 2020 will be opening up a large number of studios and supporting them to achieve profitability very quickly.”
As well as the undeniable popularity of the Mayweather name, Williams pins the brand’s success on developments happening behind-the-scenes: “I think the difference in the amount that companies are investing in their infrastructure, their team, and their workout communities will drive certain brands to thrive and others to struggle.”
That being said, having the backing of an international sports superstar certainly has its perks: “Our openings in 2019 exceeded all of our expectations as well, with Floyd dropping in to support our franchisees – working out and coaching members – which makes it very special for everyone.”
Perhaps the ultimate underdog story, The Halal Guys started as a food cart in New York in 1990. Since then, the cult classic has expanded to four carts and 95 restaurants… and has many more locations in the pipeline, from Malaysia and the Philippines, to Canada, and Indonesia.
“We hope to develop 400 locations over the next seven years and open 50 locations by the end of 2020,” says Ahmed Abouelenein, CEO. Of the challenges of the brand’s recent London launch, he added: “There were some adaptations needed, but the grand opening was great with a high volume [of customers]. It was just a matter of getting the word out to the U.K. market.”
Perhaps the brand’s success can be attributed to its world-famous and closely guarded white sauce, or its authentic adherence to its roots. Either way, this is certainly a food and beverage offering to watch, as a recent partnership with Fransmart will see domestic developments in Austin, Houston, Philadelphia, Illinois, Georgia, and California.
Despite still being in its infancy, the cannabis market’s value is projected to exceed $23bn in the U.S. by 2022. Taking full advantage of this ground-floor opportunity is ONE Cannabis and its attractive retail brand, Unity Rd.
Unity Rd. is set to deliver a modern, convenient approach to cannabis dispensing. With access to leading products through a recent partnership with Cannabis One, and a welcoming atmosphere that caters to both casual dabblers and artisanal aficionados, its truly a franchise on the cutting-edge of societal trends.
“The cannabis industry is nascent and ever-changing from day-today and market-to-market,” says Mike Weinberger, COO of Unity Rd. “We maintain a mutually trusting relationship with open communications to ensure franchisees remain compliant in a complicated business, to help the brand continue to grow and drive a high standard in a newly forming industry.”
Despite only launching in 2019, ONE Cannabis and Unity Rd. have a big year on the horizon: “We have an exciting six months ahead of us,” continues Weinberger. “We anticipate finalizing our business combination with Cannabis One in late Q1, followed by the launch of Unity Rd. branded stores in the first half of the year.”
Slapfish was yet another big partnership for Fransmart in 2019, as the sustainable U.S. seafood brand recently opened its first international location in London. This is the first of 25 planned openings in the U.K., on top of the 150 in the pipeline globally.
You’d be forgiven for thinking it strange that an international fish and chip brand targeted the home of this newspaper-wrapped treat as its first overseas market. Surely strong competition could lead to saturation before franchising even begins?
It turns out this was a platform for Slapfish to highlight its adaptability: “We de-emphasized our fish n’ chips in London, and instead promote the crave-worthy, one-of-a-kind dishes such as clobster grilled cheese, ultimate fish taco, and melted shrimp burrito,” says Andrew Gruel, celebrity chef and founder of the brand.
For its franchisees, Slapfish is looking for like-minded entrepreneurs who value environmental well-being as much as the brand does. “All brands need to operate with sustainability as a cornerstone, or they will fall by the wayside,” explains Gruel.
This fast-growing fast-casual offering has international development in its crosshairs; something exemplified by the brand’s confirmation of its first Dublin restaurant late last year. With its headquarters in Glasgow, German Doner Kebab currently operates throughout the U.K., Sweden, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman, and Bahrain.
“The brand has transformed the kebab concept and changed the perception of the delicacy,” says Imran Sayeed, global CEO, “showing that the kebab can be enjoyed in a contemporary restaurant setting, where the food is innovative, [of] premium quality, healthy, while also being delicious.”
Domestic growth is ramping up in 2020, with a “bid to open one new store every 10 days”, and international franchising is following close behind: “expansion across the U.S.A., Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Ireland has also been confirmed,” explains Sayeed, “and each new territory will see its first stores opening over the next 12 months as part of a strategic framework of new restaurants that will allow the brand to increase its global footprint.”
“In total, over 700 franchisees have signed up to the GDK brand, and we expect that number to top over 1,000 in the coming years.”
Scissors & Scotch is a cut above its competitors, and is offering a grooming experience unlike any other. Founded in 2015, the barber brand has since franchised in four U.S. states, and now has ambitious plans to revolutionize the way men keep themselves looking presentable around the globe.
“The customer experience at a Scissors & Scotch is very different from what has been the norm in the men’s grooming space,” says Aaron McMartin, VP of development, “and is the exceptional experience that we believe every man deserves.”
Alongside an expert haircut, patrons of Scissors & Scotch will enjoy a complimentary cocktail, coffee, or pint in a private lounge. It’s the definition of prestige, and hardcore fans can opt for the S&S membership scheme, which provides them with consistent appointments, and guarantees ongoing revenue for franchisees. All of this is wrapped up in a tongue-in-cheek package that differentiates the brand from its competitors.
“Culture is an integral part of Scissors & Scotch,” explains McMartin. “We don’t sell franchises; we award them to partners that we are certain will fully embrace and enhance our culture.”
Many fitness brands promote inclusivity, but perhaps leading that charge is ((BOUNCE)); the boutique, trampoline-focused fitness franchise that runs child-friendly classes for busy parents still wanting to maintain their physique.
“All 320 of our ((BOUNCE)) franchised studios run child-friendly fitness classes where truly anything goes,” says Kimberlee Perry, CEO and founder. “Our aim is to create an atmosphere that’s inclusive, sociable, and welcoming.”
Despite this franchise opportunity being open to entrepreneurs of all ages, genders, and backgrounds, 96 per cent of the brand’s franchisees are women, and more than half of them have children of their own. Some of the most important traits they need to possess? “A friendly and confident personality is key,” explains Perry, “as it can be very daunting bouncing on a trampoline, leading 20 or more people through the routines for an hour.”
Looking ahead, ((BOUNCE)) plans on opening 100 new studios in 2020, and training 200 new instructors. The franchise currently operates in the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, but Perry isn’t stopping there: “I’m aiming to continue spreading the ((BOUNCE)) ethos worldwide while keeping the same consistency with the quality of our classes, instructors, and atmosphere.”
- Words by Kieran McLoone
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