Franchising in Scotland a New Dawn

It is becoming ever more apparent, that an opportunity exists for the right candidate to spark industry growth in Scotland once again. Graham Angus, having recently teamed up with Franchise Development Services is preparing to do just that. Gareth Samuel reports

It is always inspiring sitting down opposite someone with a distinct vision and the uncompromising drive to achieve it, as Graham Angus undoubtedly has. He has recently become Managing Director of Franchise Development Services (FDS) Scotland and is intent on promoting quality Scottish businesses internationally and encouraging franchise brands to expand throughout Scotland. He explains: “It is clear that the Scottish franchise sector lags behind the UK as a whole, but it is still above the levels of 2008. This indicates that it has survived the worst of the recent economic downturn and it has a stable base to grow from.

“All the ‘big’ franchise brands have a strong presence in the major towns and cities, so franchising is an established part of the Scottish business scene. Obviously due to this lag it can only get better, I see it as a huge opportunity for growth.”

Scotland is not a country renowned for notable simpatico with the franchise industry, but herein lies the opportunity – Graham has enjoyed an impressive start to his business, with many native businesses showing immediate interest in just a few short months. “It has been pleasing that so many Scottish-based franchisors and prospective franchisors have been very keen to talk about their future franchise plans,” continues Graham. “As with setting up any business, there are ups and downs, but there have been far more positives and the picture gets brighter every day.

“People are beginning to understand the range of services FDS can offer and how we can help deliver their plans. We are already working closely with several companies and beginning to forge long term partnerships helping both existing franchisors and businesses looking to implement a franchise development plan.”

Graham’s words would sound like the sentiments of a speculative dreamer if he did not have such a strong background in the Scottish franchise world. Having owned a Mail Boxes Etc. franchise in Stirling for eight years, he developed his location into one of the top-performing units in the UK. Mail Boxes Etc. is one of the largest franchises globally and when Graham was asked to become a member of the National Marketing Council for the company nationally, it was indication of his prowess as a businessman – and no less than he deserved. He sold his business for an impressive sum in 2013 before choosing FDS as his next business venture.

“Franchising in Scotland is a large contributor to the overall economy, employing over 30,000 people and £700 million to the economy. But it’s sometimes seen as ‘only for the high street’ or ‘just for fast food’ and notoriously difficult to get quality information on how it can be an effective business development tool,” answers Graham when asked why he chose FDS as his next business venture. “I believe there is a massive opportunity for FDS Scotland to raise the profile of franchising in the business community and become one of the most respected advisors on any franchise related business advice in Scotland.”

It seems Scotland is vastly underdeveloped in terms of franchise potential and for this to change, clear and quantifiable measures are needed to kick-start growth. “I am passionate about Scotland the brand,” explains Graham. “At this moment in time, franchising in Scotland is very misunderstood as a business development tool. It can be a very successful growth strategy for certain companies wishing to expand nationally or internationally, but due to the lack of awareness, it’s never considered. I hope to change this by identifying successful companies and explaining how because the value of their brand, knowledge, product and service is so high, it could work as a very successful franchise model.

“For example, on the international stage, think of the value of coming from and based in Scotland could add to a concept, put into the mix the fact that there are over 50 million people around the world who claim Scottish ancestry, mainly in franchising hot spots like Canada, Australia and the USA, you can see the massive appeal of a Scottish-based franchise concept. This would not only drive export business growth, but there would be a readymade pool of passionate people ready to invest in a new exciting Scottish concept.”

As well as the franchising of Scottish brands, there is huge scope for UK brands to move north. Graham adds: “Looking at a quick snapshot of the franchised brands in the UK it appears only half the brands are represented in Scotland. This means there are fantastic opportunities for franchisors to attract new owners to invest. For example, it’s well documented that the public sector has been a crutch to the Scottish economy but with the planned trimming of public sector budgets in 2014/15 there is going to be a pool of quality people with redundancy capital to invest, so if there was anywhere in the UK where there is scope to grow your network, it has to be Scotland.”

Looking toward the future, it seems Scotland is well-placed to experience a franchising renaissance under the orchestration of Graham Angus, who has the skills and knowledge at his disposal, and the backing of FDS’s 32 years of experience, to successfully develop quality businesses into global franchised businesses. He concludes: “I think the future is very bright. If you look at the Scottish economy the indicators are very positive and at long last the outlook is upbeat giving businesses and individual’s confidence that the time is right to invest. There are still plenty of opportunities for individuals to own and run a franchise business even a well-established brand like SUBWAY have identified over 30 new locations in Scotland. Scottish based businesses have long over looked franchising as a way of growing but they are slowly recognising the benefits. I have no doubts going forward that franchising will become a bigger and bolder part of the Scottish economy.”