International Franchise Expo captures global attention

This year’s International Franchise Expo attracted record numbers of hungry investors, experienced franchisors and talented entrepreneurs to the Javits Center in New York City for the 22nd installment of the increasingly popular business bonanza. Gareth Samuel reports

Nearly 20,000 visitors from over 90 countries turned out to take full advantage of the expertise and investment opportunities that were available at this year’s exhibition, which featured over 400 high-quality exhibitors.

The main appeal for visitors was the unique opportunity that the exhibition presented to rub shoulders with C-level executives representing world-renowned household name brands, while simultaneously meeting and conversing with newly emerging franchise representatives. The array of franchise opportunities and experienced advice available to visitors was second to none.

Prior to the event, a special agreement between MFV Expositions and the New York State Attorney’s office allowed franchise brands that are unregistered in the state to exhibit and share their concept with attendees. These brands were able to showcase their products and services to serious investors in New York, possibly for the first time.

The first morning, of June 20, kicked off with a breakfast to announce the results of the inaugural ADP National Franchise Report, which found that franchises are an essential driver of the US economy. This report was designed to identify rich insight and trends within the franchise industry’s impact on the US labour system.

The report found that private-sector franchise jobs increased by 19,160 during the month of May 2013, with restaurants, business services and food retailers showing the largest increases.

Some of the hot topics throughout the exhibition included international brands looking to penetrate the US market and North American franchise concepts looking to expand internationally.

Conference Director and Executive Vice President of MFV Expositions, Steve Gross, said: “Nine symposia and over 70 free seminars were held to educate attendees on virtually every topic about the incredibly diverse franchise industry.

“We assembled some of the industry’s pre-eminent leaders to share their valuable experience on topics such as international expansion, private equity, and multi-unit operation in order to foster, create and build best practices.”

This year’s exhibition benefited from a noticeably more diverse audience. Visitors flocked to the event from as far as Zambia, India, Korea, Israel and the European Union, which gave this year’s International Franchise Expo (IFE) a truly and uniquely cosmopolitan feel.

The event was also well attended by high-profile media organisations, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and CNNMoney. Tom Portesy, President and CEO of MFV Expositions, added: “We set up a virtual expo on the plaza of FOX & Friends to promote the show and highlight some exhibitors. These media placements build excitement and awareness of the franchise industry as a whole. The IFE is the perfect time to talk about the economic impact our exhibitors have on communities around the world.”

Over 50 different sectors were represented at the event, including health-care, home improvement, retail and fitness. International exhibitors from Japan, Brazil, Korea, Mexico and the UK were actively seeking partnerships and franchise owners for US expansion.

Research conducted indicates that, over the course of the event, more than 30 per cent of attendees planned to invest significant sums of money into a franchise opportunity. The plethora of advice and experience available at the show meant that visitors left the IFE educated, engaged and serious about taking the next step.

Charles Willis, President of Pinot’s Pallet, concluded: “IFE is a fantastic event. The exhibition pulls from all over the Northeast and all over the world. We spoke to people from Philadelphia to Maine and from all different countries. What better place to have a show like IFE than in New York City?”