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Learning from the legacy concepts of today, the next wave of trendsetting concepts are redefining the franchise landscape of the future
Words by Kieran McLoone, editor of Global Franchise
Franchising has been a successful business model for almost a century, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for a brand-new concept to come along and completely reinvent the way we view this dynamic industry. In fact, some of the most exciting, emerging businesses came from times of hardship.
This can be for a multitude of reasons; one of which is that more and more innovative thinkers are turning to franchising to create a work-life balance for themselves that is on their own terms. The standard nine-to-five just isn’t working for everybody anymore, and some of the world’s most creative, fresh franchise brands are showcasing a lifestyle that’s becoming increasingly attractive to the next generation of investors.
To prove this point, we’ve collated 14 franchise brands that fall under the ‘emerging’ banner. For our criteria, this means brands that began franchising no earlier than 2015, and have either expanded into an international market beyond their domestic home ground or announced firm plans to do so.
“In fact, some of the most exciting, emerging businesses came from times of hardship”
So whether you’re looking to partner with a boutique boxing brand, or want to start a coding school for the most tech-savvy kids, then we’ve got you covered. Any kind of idea or experience can be a thriving franchise – it just needs passionate leaders, a honed business plan, and an engaged consumer base.
To cap off this invaluable report, we’ve spoken with the founders, CEOs, and presidents of the hottest emerging brands today to bring you the five most essential tips when identifying the perfect emerging franchise brand. By the end of this feature, you should be ready to turn the hottest new concept into an unbeatable franchising empire, that rivals even the most established giants of the industry.
The mouth-watering opportunities taking a slice of this timeless franchising sector
The Avocado Show
Founded by Ron Simpson and Julien Zaal in 2017, The Avocado Show immediately began making headlines thanks to its Instagrammable menu and unique menu offering. Each dish is carefully designed to be an “edible work of art”, and the duo has used this visual flair to attract ongoing franchise investment. As well as multiple open locations in the brand’s hometown of Amsterdam, and operational sites in Brussels and Madrid, The Avocado Show is set to open 30 further sites throughout Europe and the U.K.
“Our vision is simple: bringing joy to avocado lovers by serving Pretty Healthy Food with a side of good vibes,” says Ron Simpson. “More importantly, each and every one of our delicious creations is made with love from sustainable avocados. So when our guests order one, they can feel good knowing they are about to enjoy responsibly.”
Dave’s Hot Chicken
Something of a modern-day American dream story, Dave’s Hot Chicken was launched in a parking lot pop-up in 2017. Since then, it has sold the rights to more than 300 franchise locations in the U.S. and Canada, has attracted investment from the likes of actor Samuel L. Jackson and NFL player Michael Strahan, and has plans to open 30 to 40 locations throughout 2021.
“We have a great business model because we have made the conscious decision to keep things simple when it comes to our menu and operations, which is very appealing to both customers and potential operators,” says Bill Phelps, CEO. “With our straightforward menu of tenders, sliders (of varying heat levels) and a select amount of sides, we’re able to focus on delivering quality and consistent products that keep people craving and coming back.”
Kisses From Italy
As the playful name would imply, Kisses From Italy is an international deli franchisor that opened its first overseas site in Ceglie del Campo, Italy, in October 2019. This year, the brand partnered with Fransmart to double down on continued growth – particularly throughout the U.S.
“Our source of inspiration comes from all the love and respect we have for traditional recipes and flavors,” explains co-founder and CIO, Claudio Ferri. “Our goal is, and always will be, to bring an authentic and flavorful experience to our customers in keeping with the old ways, while combining them with new and innovative solutions and ideas.”
Sweet Paris Crêperie & Café
Franchising since 2017, Sweet Paris has fostered a modest but dedicated following across its 11 North American locations, including a site in Mexico. The brand aims to deliver a fun, chic atmosphere to the fast-casual industry, and is looking to bring a distinct taste of Paris to consumers throughout North America, and beyond.
“We celebrated our joie de vivre philosophy by making beautiful crêpes, each a stunning masterpiece in its own right, and serving them in an irresistibly charming setting,” says Allison Chavez, co-founder. “While others viewed crêpes as a relatively simple street food, we realized the crêpe was undeniably delicious and elevated in feel and could be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, snack time, dinner, or dessert with the right mix of quality ingredients.”
From boutique boxing to celebrity-backed concepts, these brands are experiencing expansion without breaking a sweat
Mayweather Boxing + Fitness
Before Mayweather Boxing + Fitness even opened in July 2018, the celebrity-backed workout brand has already begun signing up franchise partners at a rapid pace. The brand set out plans to achieve 500 sites within five years of launching – a figure that its current momentum makes seem very realistic.
“In partnership with the most successful boxer of all time, Mayweather Boxing + Fitness delivers an immersive training experience, utilizing industry-leading programs, technology and content,” says Reid Silverman, director of brand. “Franchisees are able to leverage Floyd’s name and content library to generate immediate brand awareness.”
Just this year, the boutique boxing brand opened its doors for the first time in St. Petersburg, Russia, with a grand opening ceremony attended by Floyd Mayweather himself.
“Having spent 21 years at the top of the sport of boxing, and developing his proprietary – and previously unshared – workout programs and routines, Floyd Mayweather has partnered with an industry-leading team to deliver the gold standard in boxing group fitness,” continues Silverman.
When Stuart Cain founded HITZone back in 2015, he wanted to create an experience that enriched people’s lives through fitness but did so in bite-sized chunks that could fit around a hectic schedule.
As such, HITZone is one of a few revolutionary fitness concepts that prioritizes quality over quantity when it comes to working out. With just a 25-minute workout on the brand’s proprietary HIT Machines, it’s reported that members can burn roughly 300 to 500 calories – with additional calorie burn for up to 48 hours after a session.
“There’s a huge proportion of the general population that are reluctant exercisers,” says Stuart Cain, founder. “They know they should exercise to be healthier and happier, but they are often intimidated and unmotivated to use traditional fitness facilities. So what we do here at HITZone, is use unique equipment and create a supportive and motivating community to help thousands of busy, unmotivated people have more energy, confidence and health.”
HITZone first opened its doors in the U.K. in 2015 and has since expanded to the U.S. and Canada, taking its brief and intense workouts to consumers internationally.
Continuing the boutique trend, TRIB3 differentiates itself with intricately crafted studio design to allow for a maximum of spots-per-session per 1,000 square feet of space. Typically, each TRIB3 studio will offer more than 40 guest spaces per class.
“Fusing unique 45-minute HIIT classes and a signature industrial-luxe studio design, each TRIB3 store offers an unforgettable ‘boutique’ workout experience with high customer loyalty and a fast break-even for franchise partners,” says Kevin Yates, CEO.
“Active across multiple international markets including U.K., Spain, Finland, and Ireland, with further territories on the way, TRIB3 has carved a niche in the fast-growing fitness market by fusing the compelling, customer-centric attributes of the boutique model with the scale of an expansive studio design.”
Under the highly experienced Xponential Fitness banner, AKT has managed to grow from a humble boutique offering to a real competitor in the international fitness space. Founded by fitness expert and celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser, the brand offers four signature class formats to make fitness accessible to all levels of ability.
“At AKT we seek to create members for life. Our carefully curated technique and programming create a consistent full-body workout in four distinct ways, allowing our clients to experience the AKT party in a way that best suits their needs and desires at any given time,” says Melissa Chordock, president.
“All four classes – Bands, Dance, Circuit, and Tone – are powered by a spark of energy we call ‘BADASSERY’! We reinvent the experience regularly by changing up each class every three weeks, so every Monday One of our classes is all new. Not only are we combating workout boredom or fatigue, but by keeping the body guessing, we prevent plateaus, and engage the mind as well.”
The convenience-led brands looking to make their customers’ lives that bit easier
When Mr Jeff was launched in 2015, it came as a response to the fact that 78 per cent of consumers think that washing and ironing are some of the worst household chores. The solution? An app-driven laundry service franchise, that has since grown to over 30 countries with more than 2,000 units sold.
“Mr Jeff offers an omnichannel service, bringing the convenience of Amazon to day-to-day services like laundry,” says Eloi Gómez, CEO and co-founder. “We offer a quick and easy laundry solution ideally suited for today’s busy consumers. After the customer places the order through the app, the laundry bag is collected at the customer’s home, the order is processed at the Mr Jeff franchise and the clean clothes are sent to the customer’s home within 48 hours.”
To date, Mr Jeff has sold franchises across Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the U.S. It’s a great example of how responding to a singular friction point can be the crux of a truly successful franchise.
As one of the U.K.’s most renowned skin clinic franchise chains, SkinHQ has established itself as a real frontrunner for European entrepreneurs looking to get into the health and beauty space. Founded in 2017, the brand has grown to a handful of sites throughout the U.K. and Ireland, with a total of over 40,000 registered clients throughout the country’s main cities.
“I am passionate about helping people,” says Haroon Danis, founder of SkinHQ. “I believe that everyone should be given an equal opportunity when it comes to building a bright and sustainable future. Creating an accessible franchise program has been a huge part of helping to turn this dream into a reality.”
From the very beginning, SkinHQ has been keen to make skincare treatments accessible to all. By prioritizing this democratic view, the brand continues to attract like-minded partners.
SmartStyle has been around in the hair and beauty industry since 1996, but the brand began franchising in 2016 and can primarily be found in Walmart stores across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.
It provides a full-service hair salon experience, which includes the likes of men’s, women’s, and children’s haircuts alongside color services and waxing. Put simply: it’s everything you’d want from a salon in a package backed by almost three decades of growth and development.
SmartStyle is also owned by Regis Corporation, which began as one hair salon just under 100 years ago. Its franchising model may fall under the emerging banner, but this is one beauty brand that’s far from new to the game.
Even the biggest franchisors could learn a thing or two from these exciting new concepts
Despite launching in September 2020, during the height of a global pandemic, XP League quickly caught the attention of tech-savvy franchisees looking to turn their passion into a career. And eSports are certainly a lucrative activity worthy of franchise investment; by 2023, it’s predicted that the industry could see revenues of $1.6bn.
“XP League is the bridge between youth sports and competitive gaming. It’s an opportunity to build a positive healthy ecosystem where school-age kids will build valuable lifelong skills while doing what they love,” says Jay Melamed, co-founder. “Our dual focus on positive coaching and conventional youth athletic formats create a unique experience for gamers to engage in social and emotional learning while building on the meta and skill needed for competitive play.”
Expanding into Canada in December of 2020, XP League continues to sign up new partners throughout North America.
Code Ninjas is one of the world’s largest kids coding franchises, with hundreds of units open and sold throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Its afterschool programs teach kids how to code by building videogames, and the curriculum is built around fun: centers are called dojos, teachers are code senseis, and students – also known as ninjas – progress by working toward colored wristbands, similar to the belt system in martial arts.
“90 per cent of parents have expressed an interest in wanting their kids to learn to code. Code Ninjas offers investors an opportunity to get ahead of the curve by providing a crucial service that has largely been overlooked – until now,” says Justin Nihiser, CEO.
BabyBallers was founded in Chelmsford, Essex in 2015 to cater to young children that had a love for soccer. After a successful start, the brand began franchising in 2017 and went overseas to Belgium in 2020 via a master franchising agreement. This year, the brand has announced further overseas growth with plans to develop throughout the Australasian market.
“The BabyBallers franchise is ideal for positive, outgoing individuals to run their own toddler football and multi-skills clubs,” says Chris Elms, business development manager.
“Our clubs are so popular, we have over 1,000 children on our waiting lists across the U.K. and we’re seeing the same interest from parents in Belgium where our master franchisee is rapidly expanding.
“BabyBallers is so much more than football. With consistent five-star feedback and amazing reviews, parents see their children increase in confidence, decrease their social anxiety, build on fine and gross motor skills, reinforce learnings around colors and numbers, and improve hand-eye and hand-foot coordination.”
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