Franchise Industry Research: 

NatWest bfa Franchise Survey

Beginning research on the franchising industry in 1994, the British Franchise Association (bfa), with the outstanding support of NatWest, has been building the most detailed long term franchise survey in the world. The full annual report can be purchased through the bfa’s online bookshop.

The following gives an overview from the last published report (January 2014) to give an overview of the UK franchise industry today.

Management summary

In spite of continuing economic pressures on the economy as a whole, franchising in the UK continues to expand. This year we see:

There are 930 franchise systems in operation in the UK.

  • This is a net change of plus one system on 2011, and is a figure that is an 11% increase in system numbers since the start of the recent recession in 2008
  • 4 in 5 of the franchise systems in the country are now UK owned and run1 in 4 of the franchise systems in the UK export their business model abroad

The total number of people employed in franchising in the UK is 561,000, of which just under half are in full-time employment.

  • This represents a 20% increase in franchise employment over the past 5 years
  • Over a ¼m full-time jobs in franchising in the UK are recorded for the first time ever

The overall contribution of franchising to the UK economy is £13.7 billion; which equates to just under 1% of GDP.

This contribution has grown by 20% over the past 5 years, whilst the overall economy has shrunk 2.5% over the same period.

Between them, the systems in the UK operate a total estimated at 39,000 franchised units, which represents a 7% increase over the past 5 years.

There are reckoned to be 22,400 franchisees in total (as 1 in four run multiple units).

92% of franchised businesses are at least ‘marginally profitable’, with 49% saying they are either quite profitable or very profitable.

88% of franchisors expect improved trading conditions for their own businesses in the coming year. Although somewhat less bullish, still 54% of franchisees are anticipating the next 12 months to be better.

Recruitment is the single biggest ongoing challenge for franchisors: on average it takes 250 leads and 25 interviews to sign up each new franchisee – but then the strong financial performance of franchisees in the UK indicates the benefit of the franchise system in filtering out unsuitable applicants.

Key Statistics

Generating wealth

The total economic contribution of the franchise industry now stands at £13.7 billion, up 2.4% on last year’s figure.


Robust and sustained growth through the recession

Employment in franchising

This year our estimate for the total number employed in franchising is 561,000, with a clear movement from part-time to full-time jobs.

Franchise industry size

Franchisee characteristics

2013 NatWest/bfa Franchise Survey
2013 NatWest/bfa Franchise Survey More information £185.00 Includes shipping
    Pirtek Europe plc - Franchisee case study

    Daniel worked for Pirtek as their sales manager. When the original franchisee decided to sell off the Ashford franchise, Daniel jumped at the chance and has never looked back!

    Read the full case study
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