The world’s consultant to franchising

FDS has got off to a flying start in 2013 with two further offices to open in Lebanon and Pakistan. Here Jenna Leeds reports on the company’s continuing global success


With consultancy operations already located in Spain, the UAE and Australasia, FDS is to expand its network into one of the fastest growing markets in the world: the Middle East. FDS has awarded Master Franchise Rights to entrepreneurial businessmen in both countries, in recognition of their extensive experience in national and international franchising.

The Lebanon:

Mahmoud will open his office in Beirut, to cover franchising in Lebanon. Plans are also afoot to further expand into Iraq by 2014. Beirut, located on the Levant coast in the Eastern Mediterranean, is the growing capital city of Lebanon and often referred to as the “Paris of the Middle East”.

Home to some of the most luxurious brands in the world such as Bottega Veneta, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Versace and Lanvin, it offers fantastic franchising potential.

“It is a thriving consumer market across all franchise sectors. What’s more the young generation forms a big percentage of the total population, making it a dynamic market,” says Mahmoud. Mahmoud comes from a solid background in franchising; running and owning franchises for the past 21 years, he knows what investors will be looking for.

He explains: “Investors in the Middle East are always on the look out for new ideas, especially in countries that are already developed with major franchisors. Countries that lack franchise brands are also on the look out for new opportunities.

“Investors look for brand power, the know-how and, most of all, continuous support and training.” Mahmoud’s experience includes working with the popular food retail franchise – Subway restaurants. Here he worked initially as an employee in a Subway franchise, then as a franchise owner in Canada in 1992, before being made a Regional Director in 1997.

He believes bringing even more international brands into the Middle Eastern market will open up great opportunities for Lebanon.

“Many international brands have already had great success in our market, such as McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Zara, Mango and Clarks. But it’s franchises like Apple Store that could really have a huge impact,” he said.

As Regional Director in 1997, Mahmoud also helped develop the Subway brand internationally in over 14 different countries, including the Middle East, France, India and South Africa. “When I first joined the franchise it was only at the very beginning of reaching its potential. In working across the company in an array of roles, I have witnessed Subway’s growth from the start and can now see what it takes to make a successful international brand,”

Mahmoud had already been exploring the idea of consultancy work with his brother Ibrahim, when they met with FDS in New York in June 2012 at the International Franchise Exhibition.

“I felt immediately that, through our efforts and backed by FDS’ expert knowledge and the powerful media platform, we could help people in the Middle East achieve great results,” said comments. “Lebanon is a huge franchise market. Cultural openness here is a strength and an opportunity for franchisors, as are minimum franchise laws and requirements, unlike many other countries.”

Pakistan:

The growth of the franchise market in Pakistan, on behalf of FDS, will be overseen by Rana Hafeez, from his office in Lahore.

Even though franchising is a relatively new phenomenon in Pakistan, the concept has gained great acceptance in the market as illustrated by recent growth. Rana says he has witnessed a particular franchising trend in the food sector. Pakistan already being home to some of the biggest US food retail franchises – McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC and Subway.

Rana explains: “The food sector has grown rapidly in Pakistan but it is now the European brands wanting to come into the market, especially across the fashion, clothing and cosmetics sectors. My aim is to develop the franchising industry even further and I am already expecting a lot of interest and mutual work with the Government of Pakistan, which will only increase opportunities.” Rana first joined the franchising industry in 1999 and opened his own Subway franchise a year later. He then continued to open a further 21 stores throughout Pakistan, making his mark as an extremely knowledgeable national franchise owner, in a fast expanding market.

Rana is looking forward to working with FDS and what opportunities this will bring. He believes there is great potential.

“As Pakistan is geographically placed near to some of the biggest markets like India, Russia and China, a lot of non-food brands already exist, along with some of the biggest fashion franchise brands: Mango, Gap, Body Shop, Nike,” he continues. “Around 10 more food sector brands are already under development.

“Pakistan is aware of brand concept, especially in food, clothing and cosmetics. A lot of successful franchise brands have been running since 1996, which is a great inspiration for investors. The only problem is they don’t know how or where to start, and I believe FDS can be the inspiration and guiding light for them to fulfil their dreams.

“It is the perfect time for us to partner with FDS and I am already visualising the great potential of franchising businesses. I am confident that FDS Pakistan will produce tremendous results.”