As foreign brands make Britain their home, the president of Tutor Doctor digs into why they’re poised to keep doing so despite Brexit
Over the past few years, the number of international brands breaking into the UK market has sky-rocketed. You can’t turn a page in a magazine or scroll through social media anymore without spotting a new and emerging brand from another country. But instead of viewing newcomers as a threat, perhaps existing UK franchisors should greet them with open arms and an earnest handshake. I said it ten years ago when Tutor Doctor first came to the UK and I’ll say it now: the market is very attractive.
You might wonder why brands would choose to invest in the UK during these uncertain times. With the end result of the Brexit vote still being unclear and a market that appears unstable as a result, it could seem to be almost counter-intuitive to launch now. But Brexit really is only half of the story. The UK is the second biggest economy in Europe and the fifth in the world, according to IMF figures from April 2018. It’s actually more viable and robust than ever before. More franchisors, franchisees, employees and consumers join the growing industry every year.
International brands that come to the UK can often offer something luxurious native well-established brands cannot – choice. Often, prospects have almost complete freedom over their choice of geographical location and could even negotiate with the franchisor to adjust the shape and size of planned territories to clinch the exact area they want. The first few franchisees to join any new franchise will be trailblazers for the brand. And, for the right individuals, when faced with the opportunity to play a key part in the development of a business, the appeal factor goes through the roof.
Probably most notable among international expansions is the number of US brands making their way across the pond. It’s unsurprising really, we already consume a lot of products and services – like TV shows and beverages – from the US. American brands will often do better than others from outside the UK because British buyers, both franchise and consumer, feel more comfortable with the similarities between the two nations. The language barrier is the most difficult to overcome for consumers which is another reason why brands from the US and Australia get into the UK market a little easier than others.
It can be daunting whenever a new brand enters your market, whether they’re a startup or a successfully established international business. But instead of focusing negatively on the newcomer, franchisors must view it as a positive driver that can actually prevent your business from becoming stagnant. Savvy franchisors will learn about their competitors, investigating the way they do business and improve their services and products accordingly.
From a prospective franchisee’s perspective, an influx of new brands in any particular sector should be seen as proof that there is demand for the product or service. Franchisors should repeat this to their network to reassure them and to demonstrate the continued potential for growth. Franchising now contributes over £17bn to the UK economy. We continue to pride ourselves on being a truly collaborative industry, with the backing and support of our peers and competitors.
For franchise prospects and consumers alike, origin of brand is becoming less and less important in their decision-making and ultimate buying process. What remains a top priority is brand engagement, exceptional service, transparency, ethics and great value. International brands demonstrating that they do all of these things, and do them well, are likely to enjoy success in the UK.