UK slow to embrace franchise model, says Anytime Fitness MD

British franchise market 'under-invested' compared to other economies, says Anytime Fitness MD Andy Thompson.

The UK as a market has been slow to embrace the franchising model of running a business, according to Anytime Fitness managing director Andy Thompson.

In an exclusive chat with Growth Business, Thompson said that the number of franchised businesses on the high-street remains very low when observed against other comparable economies.

“The UK is still a relatively under-invested market for franchises,” he said. “Compared to other economies it’s a completely different picture. If you look at somewhere like New Zealand pretty much everything on the high-street there is a franchise.”

Anytime Fitness is one example of a highly successful business run on the franchise model. Between 2011 and 2014 the number of gyms it runs increased by 67%. To put this into perspective the number of Subway franchises increased by 17.5% across the same period.

In 2014 the company received between 2,000 and 3,000 franchise enquiries – up from 400 in 2012. Finally in 2015 the business’s turnover is set to increase three-fold.

>See also: Building businesses with a start-up mentality

Thompson believes successful implementation of the franchise model is down to two things.

“The first is how well the franchiser is supporting and advising and the second is how well the franchisee is willing to follow the business,” he said.

“Sometime the franchisee will think they’ve found a better way to do things, and that’s not always the case.”

Thompson also believes that growing a business “where you know what your revenues will most likely be” is another advantage to adopting the franchise model.

“When people are being sold 12 month contracts that’s quite a resilient business because you’re less susceptible to external forces than maybe an independent business would be,” he continued.

Anytime itself has surpassed it own growth targets since it was founded in 2010. Thompson says that, given the much-improved economic conditions over the five-year period, the business maybe could have afforded to be even more ambitious in its plans.

“I think in terms of the property aspect, even though we have some good relationships with the institutional landlords, we probably should have been more bullish in the our approach. But that’s probably the only thing we’d change now.,” he explained.

Further reading on business models: Growing through the lean start-up model

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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