Source: Global Franchise
It’s undeniable that American franchises have worked well in the UK. But is cross-Atlantic franchising a one way street, or are UK franchises making inroads into the US? Ray Hays investigates
During a recent client visit to London, I spent time at the Westfield Stratford City Mall. As an American franchise executive, U.S. franchise brands naturally catch my eye: Subway, McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, TGI Friday’s, Pinkberry, Fossil… and the list goes on. Back in America, it begs the question, why don’t we see British franchises flourishing across the pond?
True, British franchise brands do not abound in the US. That said, over the past couple decades, a number of UK franchisors have made inroads – or at least dipped their toes – into the American market. Their stories provide useful insights for other international franchisors, who might consider taking the plunge into the US.
The Filta Group is a UK-based franchisor of environmental solutions for commercial kitchens, which began offering franchises in the US in 2002. Today, Filta has over 300 US franchise territories open – far exceeding their UK operations of 43 franchises and 20 company-owned units. Filta continues its strong US expansion with net increases of 25 territories annually in both 2016 and 2017, and ongoing growth into 2018.
Tom Dunn, COO of the franchisor’s US arm, The Filta Group Inc., explains the company’s decision to enter the US market. “Filta felt the concept would travel well from the UK into the American market, and our research showed a large number of commercial kitchens with an unmet demand for our services.”
Filta opened its first US location in Florida in 2003 under an individual franchise. Although Filta offers master franchises in many international markets, they began in the US by selling individual franchises. Many franchisees acquired additional territories, and today about 65% of Filta’s US franchise owners are multi-unit operators.
A key to Filta’s successful US market entry was their emphasis on the support of their early franchised units. According to Dunn, “Focusing on our initial markets in Florida, Filta invested the time, people and resources to get our first US franchisees off to a good start. This early attention and hand-holding paid off for the long-term success of our US franchising program.”