'A great franchise opportunity'

A café in every major town and city across Scotland by 2013 is the aim for the streat® Master Franchisees Gerry Carey and John Belardo.

With its sights set on expanding across Scotland, Irish café franchise the streat® has deployed two Scottish Master Franchisees to spearhead its development. Gerry Carey and John Belardo launched their Glasgow-based Regional Development office in February and during the summer will open their first sub-franchised café.

Established in Belfast by husband and wife team Michael and Nikki McQuillan, the streat® café has developed a network of 30 cafes throughout Ireland with the aid of an award-winning training programme and over 20 years of experience in the hospitality sector. Formerly the Retail Operations Director of Rangers FC, Gerry already possessed a good knowledge of franchising through the club's franchise network of merchandising outlets so knew the benefits, namely a tried and tested business model and ability to hit the ground running. Gerry (pictured above) was introduced to the streat® by two of its directors who had previously provided retail software to the Rangers shops.

'At the time I was not actively looking for a franchise to invest in,' explains Gerry. 'I was waiting for the right opportunity to present itself, which it did at the National Franchise Exhibition in the form of one of the streat®'s directors. I loved the streat®'s food, concept and the fact it is affiliated with the British Franchise Association. My gut instinct was to invest in this great franchise opportunity, so after carrying out the necessary due diligence I did.

'the streat® has helped John and I set up the Scottish operation. Initially we went on a four-week intensive training course at the streat®'s operational training centre in Belfast. Since we launched our office the streat® has been excellent, offering guidance and support whenever we need it. I have been introduced to the suppliers, Nikki has devised a shop fit programme and representatives are helping us with our stand at the British Franchise Exhibition in Glasgow.'

Gerry is the first to admit that running a franchise is hard work especially while establishing the business and recruiting franchisees. 'The amount of work is daunting, but knowing you are working for your own personal gain is a good incentive,' he reflects. 'The variety of work means there is never a dull day, from property searching to marketing. Working for myself allows me to work flexible hours, do the school run and see more of my family at weekends.

'Our short-term goal is to open four cafes by the end of this year, while our five year plan entails opening a café in every major town and city in Scotland. We are looking for prospective franchisees who possess good people management skills, have a passion for customer service and are fanatical about food. While retail experience is not essential as full training is provided, the ability to learn quickly is important. I would advise anyone interested in the streat® franchise opportunity to visit franchisees and sample the food.

'All franchisees recruited will receive six weeks of training. During the first four weeks we will project manage your shop fit. John and I will help you find the right property, recruit and train staff, commission monthly business review meetings and be on call for help, ensuring you never feel completely on your own.'

Interview: Jess Sturman