A Taste of Success: Franchises in the Food and Drink Sector

With food and drink franchises ranging from the globally recognised to more specialist brands, there are more than enough opportunities in this sector to cater for every taste.

Of all the various franchise sectors, it is the ###href~/franchising/Guidance-for-Franchisees/16###>Food & Drink sector that has arguably made the public most aware of the franchising format. When asked to think of a franchise, most people will automatically be drawn towards one of the big-name fast food outlets whose success has led to the development of global franchise networks.

Food & Drink franchises can have the benefits of huge brand awareness combined with strong high street visibility and a high level of customer loyalty. However, the Food & Drink market can be particularly competitive, so there are a number of factors that should be taken into account before any investment is made.

An important consideration for a potential investor, depending on the level of available funds, is whether to invest in a franchise that has high brand value or one that is less well-known. A well-known brand benefits from the customer's recognition and awareness of the business, which is driven through huge national marketing campaigns. These food outlets, however, can come with a very high level of required investment.

With a generally lower level of investment, smaller name brands can often work within a gap in the market and be just as successful, providing alternatives and specialist products.

The franchisee also has the opportunity of investing in a company that could well be on its way up - getting in on the ground floor of a developing network.

The range of Food & Drink brands offering franchises is immense and varied, catering for every corner of the market. After the initial choice between take-away outlet and sit-down restaurant, there are endless possibilities of food to prepare and sell. The choice can range between traditional hot fast food such as burgers, pizzas, chicken or a combination of pasties and pastries, sandwiches, baguettes and snacks, vegetarian foods, sweets such as ice cream, milkshakes and doughnuts, specialist and exotic foods and a wealth of coffee shops.

Another important aspect to consider is whether there will be a market for the product in your proposed territory - is there competition from both different and similar food outlets? Location is also important to maximise business and linked with this is the type of customer the business is hoping to target. Is the business looking to attract commuters, high street shoppers, office workers or maybe the late night entertainment markets? What customer will be attracted to the business and how will the business make the most of this?

Taking these apsects into consideration, here we list some of the major players in the Food & Drink franchise sector, covering a broad selection of the opportunities available.


No list of Food & Drink franchises would be complete without mentioning the leading player in the industry - ###href~/business/McDonalds-Restaurants/472###>McDonald's. With no introduction necessary, McDonald's now has around 30,000 restaurants around the world and serves 2.5 million people every day in the UK alone. Over 70 per cent of all McDonald's restaurants are run by independent franchisees, which makes it the largest franchise company in the world. With a good level of managerial and personal skills, franchisees benefit from the most powerful branding in the world and, as successful owner/operators, are offered a long-term business opportunity.

The fast food chain Burger King has also made a huge mark in the franchising world with 12,000 restaurants in 61 countries and one of the strongest brands in the business. Offering franchisees the opportunity to develop their businesses into multi-site operations, the franchise is a managerial prospect for committed individuals with great team leading skills. Providing a structured and well-planned training programme, Burger King aims to ensure its franchisees are armed with everything they need to make their business a success.

For an alternative fast food franchise, the iconic brand Wimpy offers a business concept tailored to British tastes. With a wide range of food on offer, Wimpy serves customers everything from burgers and chips, mixed grills, fish, jacket potatoes and a tantalising dessert menu. Launched in Britain in 1954, Wimpy now has 270 outlets nationwide in high streets, leisure complexes and service stations. With single and multi-unit franchises available in express, kiosk and table service formats, Wimpy guides its franchisees to success through a programme of training, support, guidance and marketing.

Looking at a different fast food market, pizza continues to grow in popularity. ###href~/business/Papa-Johns-Pizza/551###>Papa John's is a world-class brand with nearly 3,000 stores and is reported to be the fastest growing pizza company in the USA. As both a take-away and delivery restaurant, the award-winning business takes pride in its continuous development and innovation, which includes a new store design. Papa John's is planning to establish 350 stores in the UK over the next five years and is looking for focused and enthusiastic franchisees with a high level of commitment.

A healthy new concept in the fast food sector is ###href~/business/RedVeg/999704###>RedVeg, which has recently launched its franchise opportunity onto the UK market. Started in central London in 2000, RedVeg is a vegetarian fast food concept that has gained many favourable reviews. Providing different food at an affordable price, RedVeg creates its menu from global and independently created recipes - it is a stylish alternative that benefits from the public's increasing awareness of healthy living. With its sights set upon a valuable gap in the market, RedVeg is suited to high-density urban locations. As a full turnkey franchise package, RedVeg is pitched to become one of the most exciting new concepts in the fast food industry.

Looking away from fast food outlets, ###href~/business/Chilli-Banana/999736###>Chilli Banana is an authentic Thai food restaurant concept that is expanding through franchising. With the original restaurant having been opened in 1996 by husband and wife Steve and May Wakefield, the business has become increasingly popular due to May's own brand of 'home Thai cooking.' Standards are very high, so to create the authentic food that makes Chilli Banana so successful, chefs are sourced from Thailand and undergo extensive training to produce dishes from the freshest ingredients, according to traditional Thai recipes.


One of the fastest growing areas of the franchised food industry is the sandwich market. Suited to modern lifestyles, the sandwich is presently perceived as a healthier form of snacking. In 2003 sales of sandwiches in the retail market were worth upwards of £3.5 billion a year, and the UK sandwich market was predicted to continue growing by around seven to eight per cent per annum (source: Mintel Report - Sandwiches - 2003).

The forerunner of this market is the massively popular ###href~/business/Subway/999680###>Subway chain, voted Number One in the 2005 'Franchise 500' by Entrepreneur Magazine. As the world's largest sandwich chain, Subway has seen experienced phenomenal growth over recent years and now has over 23,000 stores across the world. In fact, Subway's popularity has led the company to overtake the number of McDonald's stores in the US, Northern Ireland, Iceland and Canada. Subway is aiming to emulate this success in the UK by opening a further 1,440 outlets over the next six years.

The British brand ###href~/business/Benjys/87###>Benjy's offers over 350 different freshly filled sandwiches from over 70 static stores and 100+ mobile stores nationwide. In addition to this, Benjy's gives its customers a wider choice of food by including hot snacks, soups, potatoes, bakery goods, fruit and desserts in its extensive menu. In a period of rapid expansion, Benjy's offers three franchise opportunities to suit all levels of investment: a shop-style franchise; a mobile 'Vanchise'; and the opportunity to become a multi-territory Benjy's Development Agent.

Since its launch in 1998, ###href~/business/OBriens/534###>O'Briens has grown its franchise network to over 300 stores across several countries. Using the best quality ingredients to make the freshest sandwiches, O'Briens directs its concept at its primary market of professionals and office workers looking for a tasty and nutritious meal to eat in or on-the-go. Franchisees benefit from full training as well as the back-up of an experienced management team. The ongoing support portfolio assists franchisees with everything from store location and design to staff recruitment and legislative requirements.

Using its unique and patented oven, ###href~/business/Toasty-Kitchens/792###>Toasty Kitchens provides customers with fresh, toasted sandwiches 'cooked to perfection every time'. Established for over 27 years, Toasty Kitchens has so far served millions of customers in the UK. The concept can be run from potential outlets that are almost everywhere: including restaurants, cafès, malls, pubs, stadiums and open-air events. Franchisees have the option of investing in their own service outlet or providing the ovens to existing establishments - all for a relatively low initial investment.

Customers looking for a traditional and warming snack could do no better than visiting a ###href~/business/Morris-Pasties/492###>Morris Pasties store. A family business with over 20 years of experience in premium food sales and manufacture, Morris Pasties offers acclaimed and wholesome foods including a wide range of pasties (made to a secret Cornish recipe), soups and ice creams. Trading under the Morris brand, the franchise package is backed by an experienced team committed to working closely with the franchisee to set up the outlet and maximise sales and profits. With progressive nationwide expansion, Morris Pasties is seeking determined franchisees to implement its tried, tested and proven operating system.


Alongside the many opportunities in the food sector there are a host of other business concepts covering all manner of foods. One of the most prevalent of these is the coffee shop chain, such as the successful ###href~/business/Coffee-Republic/999671###>Coffee Republic which has grown to be a well-known and substantial independent espresso bar brand in the UK. With the introduction of the Coffee Republic Deli, customers now have a choice of hot and cold food, alongside the range of premium coffees. Gaining rave reviews from the press, the company is looking to expand through franchising to add to its 50 existing bars.

With a flexible range of franchise packages available, investors can benefit from either a 'fast-start' route by buying an existing unit, investing into a brand new unit in a location of their choosing, or becoming an Area Development Franchisee and operate an entire region.

The choice of franchises in the Food & Drink sector is wide and varied and much time, research and consideration should be taken before any investment is made. The role of an operator in this sector can be demanding - a high level of commitment and enthusiasm is needed - but the benefits and rewards can be filling for hungry business builders.

Reported by Adam Browning