Exhibition attracts thousands

The National Franchise Exhibition 2011 attracted people from all over the UK and beyond to discover more about over 150 of the best franchise opportunities and services available.

A final flourish of summer weather didn’t deter thousands of visitors descending on the NEC in Birmingham for The National Franchise Exhibition on September 30 and October 1.

Among the many businesses introducing their new franchises at the show were Green King Meet & Eat, Wilkins Chimney Sweep, Just Shutters, and Energy & Carbon Management, who exhibited alongside established names such as McDonald’s, Subway and Cash Generator.

The exhibition was a hive of activity with the stands including meetings, demonstrations, briefings and even the occasional celebrity, when former England Rugby Prop Jeff Probyn popped in on the Bar Sports stand to discuss England’s performance in the Rugby World Cup with visitors.

The UK’s largest franchise event also played host to an extensive free conference programme, which included seminars by the British Franchise Association (bfa), banks, accountants, solicitors and franchising experts covering a variety of key franchise-related topics including an introduction to franchising, families in franchising, growing your own business and executives in franchising.

The seminars proved popular with visitors such as Lynne Lyons from Lincoln, a Manager at a local authority, who said: “The seminars were very good and an easy way to find out further information. We’ve come away with a more refined idea of what business might suit us.”

For the exhibitors, this meant that visitors acquired the relevant information in order to be able to make the most of the opportunities at the show and conversations with franchise businesses.

Jim Cameron, a lawyer from Glasgow, added: “I am looking to invest in a franchise due to my retirement and family interests. Some good ideas have caught my eye. It was really worthwhile coming all the way down here!”

Ian Johnson, a furniture buyer from Boston, Lincolnshire, agreed: “I have seen a variety of different ideas at affordable prices that I had not thought about before coming to the show. I’ve come away more positive after today.”

These positive sentiments were also echoed by exhibitors, including Scott Murray, Managing Director of Bar Sport Franchise UK Ltd, who said: “Our stand was busy with plenty of visitors. People have come with positive attitudes despite the current economic climate and this optimism appears to be on the increase.”

Berkeley Harris, of WPA, added: “Visitors to the show clearly have an air of confidence about themselves that British franchising is clearly the future of the British economy. Franchising has always done well through difficult times and 2011-12 looks set to be no different.”

Elsewhere in the NEC, and as a result of its increasing popularity, there were numerous sessions of The Franchisee Panel to cope with demand. The panel, comprising of business people who have made the move into franchising, shared their real life accounts of making the transition from employee to being self-employed.

Neil Smith, a Customer Services Director from Epsom, who saw one of the sessions added: “The Franchisee Panel gave a good insight into the work that you have to invest. Those on the panel were very open and honest about their earnings. It is a good way to find new ideas to review.”

One of the highlights of the exhibition for many was the series of Growing Your Own Business seminars. Successful entrepreneurs addressed a packed audience and shared the secrets of their success.

Adrian Goodsell, Franchise Exhibitions Manager at organisers Venture Marketing Group, concluded: “There was a buoyant positive attitude towards investing in franchises among the many visitors at the NEC. This bodes well for the six events that we will be staging around the country in 2012 with the support of the bfa.”

Forthcoming franchise exhibitions in 2012, supported by the bfa, start with the new National Franchise Exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham on February 24 to 25, followed by The British & International Franchise Exhibition taking place from March 16 to 17 at Olympia, London.

Written by Fraser McKay