Lloyds Banking Group looks to the future for franchising

Professionals from the franchise community recently attended a forum hosted by Lloyds Banking Group to discuss key issues impacting on the franchise sector and the bank's plans for developing its own products and services to the franchise community.

Richard Holden, Head of Franchising for the Lloyds Banking Group, hosted the forum which was attended by professionals from the franchise community including Brian Smart, Director General of the British Franchise Association (bfa), and representatives from franchise brands TaxAssist Accountants, Autosmart International, Cash Generator, Water Babies and Interlink Express.

Richard said: "The discussions helped us to gain a greater understanding of the franchise market's needs. This enables us to utilise Lloyds Banking Group's innovative approach and unrivalled knowledge and professionalism of our managers and shape the direction of banking support accordingly."

The forum was followed by a gala dinner held at the Hyatt Regency in Birmingham to announce the bank's introduction of 50 new Franchise Managers to strengthen the existing team which supports franchise development across both of the Lloyds TSB and Bank of Scotland brands. These new Franchise Managers have been trained with the support of the bfa and a number of experienced franchise professionals.

Their role will be to provide banking and financial support to new and existing franchise owners throughout the UK. Mr Smart said: "To have people around who understand franchising is a great support to our industry and is something which is absolutely the right thing to do."

Richard adds: "Our commitment in supporting the growth of ethical franchising in the UK remains as strong as ever. The introduction of more resources means that our customers can be confident of receiving guidance and support from trained and knowledgeable franchise managers and will set us apart from the other banks."

Richard used the dinner to promote one of his passions - using local produce. All the main ingredients had been sourced from farms and producers located within 30 miles of Birmingham city centre.

He continues: "Using local produce has been a passion of mine for many years and the Head Chef at the Hyatt Regency has risen to the challenge. Much of the food had been sourced from suppliers the hotel had never used before. The response from the guests has been overwhelmingly positive and I hope that this event has raised awareness of how great local produce can be."

Recognising the bank's sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the special guest at the dinner was Mark Foster, five-time Olympian and star of Strictly Come Dancing. He spoke passionately about his career and his life since his retirement from competitive swimming after the Beijing Olympics.