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Entrepreneurs Panel

Jeremy Roberts
Steve Purdham
Brian Hay
Debbie Pierce
Laura Tenison
Julie Meyer
David Pollock
Charlie Mullins
Michael Oliver
Jennie Johnson
Tony Caldeira
Richard O'Sullivan

Getting into the franchise business

Richard O'Sullivan

Founded Millie’s Cookies in 1985 and went on to sell the Bury-based chain to catering giant Compass in 2003 for £24 million. In 2007 he signed an agreement with Boost Juice Bars – an Australian-based juice chain – to operate its UK outlets. The tenth Boost unit opened in the UK in Bristol in June 2009. O’Sullivan has been chairman of the Liverpool bar chain Baa Bar since 2006 and the Mexican food chain Barburrito since October 2008.

Question: 

I currently run a couple of grocery shops and a contact of mine has asked if I would be interested in going into business with him running a franchised grocery outlet. What are the basics I need to consider before making up my mind?

Answer: 

Firstly, if you are going into business with anyone it is imperative that you agree a comprehensive “shareholders agreement” before you become a commercial entity. This is effectively a pre-nup. Agree it, put it in a drawer and hope neither party ever has to refer to it in the future. Despite the cost, this agreement should be prepared and fi led with both parties’ solicitors.

There are some very successful franchise operations across the grocery sector. Ensure that you carry out your own “due diligence” by visiting other franchisees within this organisation to get a feel for
both the strengths and weaknesses of this particular franchisor.

Franchising is an established business format nowadays, so tap into the online advice of the various franchising associations and establish/ consider the common pitfalls that franchisees experience.

Prepare your own business plan and be sure to put some thought into what you wish your journey and end game to be.

As with most things in life, remember it’s much easier to get into things than it is to get out of them!

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