Recording to several market reports, the future of franchising is shining brighter than ever. Currently, there are over 120 industries with franchised companies; hardly surprising given the benefits for potential franchisees versus starting their own business from scratch. Franchisees can gain the benefits of development support, brand standards, quality control, training, and more.

Let’s look at some of the top franchises in the UK to see how they reached their successes and what other businesses can learn from them.


Automotive: Lookers Group

We’ll start from the company’s beginnings: John Looker founded the company in Manchester in 1908. By 1910, the business had forged with a garage-owner in the centre of Manchester.

Primarily a Ford dealer until the First World War, the company was thriving so much that the garage had to be rebuilt in 1911 to accommodate all the business that it had generated. It was appointed a distributor of Austin motor vehicles in 1918 and continued its growth by acquiring a number of garages in Lancashire and Cheshire. Although John Looker retired in 1929, the business didn’t falter.

As part of the county’s war efforts during World War II, the Austin factory was used to support the country’s needs. Fast forward a few decades and the business’s first major acquisition took place in the 60s when the Group moved into Yorkshire. By 1973, their headquarters had moved from Hardman Street to Chester Road – their current base today. At the same time, the company became a listed company on the London Stock Exchange.


It certainly ended in a modern-day success! Lookers is now one of the top three motor vehicle retailers in the UK and offer car service plans, representing 32 manufacturers and selling car types at 150 franchised dealerships.



Main business highlights

Looking after staff: Receiving top employer accreditations in 2017 and 2018, the Group is a clear example of looking after your staff to find success. By acquiring several local businesses, including Benfield, the Group understood the need to keep the local feel of the businesses while softly implementing their own touch.



In the beginning, there was no Curry Club Thursdays… Initially named Martin’s Free House, the first Wetherspoon was opened from a former bookmakers’ store in North London in 1979, before changing its name to Wetherspoon earlier the following year. The company’s chains initially only expanded in North London. The company opened its first pub which had a no-smoking bar in 1991 in North Finchley, before moving more into Central London, with their first pub in Liverpool Street Station. The following year, the first airport pub was opened in Heathrow and in the same year they were also named J D Wetherspoon PLC, opening their 50th pub.


After that, things really picked up. The chain moved out of London in 1993 and opened pubs in Bracknell and Norwich. By 1994, the chain had reached an impressive 100 pubs and ventured as far north as the Midlands. The business kept expanding and moving into new territory throughout the 90s, with further establishments opened in Manchester, Wales and Scotland. 1998 saw the 300th pub open and its rapid expansion saw them reach 500 pubs being open by 2001. The 600-mark was reached in 2002 as the breakfast revolution got underway as all pubs opened six days a week to serve the first meal of the day.

Wetherspoon is always keeping ahead of the game, too. The company proved it was adapting to change when they added free Wi-Fi to all of their pubs, and in 2007 the first wedding was held. The 700th pub was launched in 2008, with the 800th following in 2011 and 900th in 2013. Nowadays, the company employs over 35,000 staff, and owns 948 pubs and hotels.

Main business highlights

Key locations: There’s often a Wetherspoons near key travel locations, like train stations. You can currently find them in Aberdeen, Birmingham International, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Liverpool John Lennon, Heathrow, Gatwick, Glasgow and Stansted airports, and near train stations around London, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow.


Deals for everything: Meal deals are a popular choice at Wetherspoon. Apart from their initial Curry, Chicken and Steak Club, they offer Pizza, Burgers, Fish Fridays as well as Sunday Brunches. All of these meal deals are accompanied by an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage of your choice!


Following the festival: Wetherspoon is also known for showing up at festivals. They currently are involved in a biannual beer festival with 60 beers on tap.



It all began with one man. John Gregg began a delivery service in the 1930s, delivering eggs and yeast on his pushbike to families in Newcastle upon Tyne. It was after having this delivery service that helped local families bake their own bread for over 10 years that John Gregg opened a small bakery on Gosforth High Street in 1951. It was a single shop with a bakery at the rear. This allowed Greggs to begin baking quality bread with flour that was milled from specially selected wheat for that distinctive Greggs taste and texture.

After his father’s death, Ian Gregg took over the family business. Under Ian’s leadership, Greggs developed a good reputation for selling products which were quality and of great value. The company also started to grow in size by buying regional bakery retailers across the United Kingdom and, by the 1970s, they had shops in Scotland, Yorkshire and the North West. The company’s expansion was well underway by 1984, when there were more than 260 shops in four areas of the country. For the first time ever, Greggs was on the Stock Exchange and they continued to expand, opening shops in the Midlands, Wales and North London.


Main business highlights

A local legend: Greggs’ strongest presence is in the North East of England. While still being rooted in their local communities, Greggs has almost 1,700 shops nationwide. That means that, while there is the popular national range, regional favourites can be found in their stores depending on where you are.


The main boon of a franchise is the strong foundation it offers. It’s clear that the franchise world is going to continue growing, regardless of the industry you choose. So, budding business owners out there, make sure you research any possible franchises that could be of interest to you before jumping in feet first with your idea!




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