According to entrepreneur Nigel Toplis, franchising does not enjoy the recognition it deserves. Nigel, who is the chairman of The Bardon Group, says franchising has been ignored at both Governmental and academic levels – for many years.
He says: “The franchise sector contributes £17.2 billion annually to the UK’s GDP, yet the business model is still seriously underrepresented in academic circles. It’s important that the franchise business model gains the level of recognition it deserves, especially within the world of academia.”
That said, Nigel has certainly been doing his bit to raise the awareness of franchising within educational circles. For the best part of three decades, his company has been sponsoring an award at Lancaster University’s Management School.
Back in 1996, Nigel was instrumental in setting up a franchise module as part of a business syllabus at the University. Every year, The Bardon Group sponsor a prize for the best franchising projects undertaken by the University’s students. And, for the 27th year in a row, Nigel visited Lancaster recently to present a cheque and certificates to the winning students.
Nigel, who is also a past chairman of the British Franchise Association (BFA), said:
“It has been my long-held view that the franchising model offers a highly credible opportunity to assist in the regeneration of local, regional and national economies. Lancaster University’s Management School fully recognises the part franchising plays in the economy. I am delighted that each year the entrepreneurs of the future have had an opportunity to learn about the role which franchising plays in the world of business.
“I really look forward to meeting with the students of Lancaster every year. I still hope that other management schools would follow Lancaster’s lead and include the franchise business model in their curriculum.” The ENSI311 Franchising Module forms part of the University’s BSc Hons Business Management (Entrepreneurship) programme.
It gives students an opportunity to look at franchising’s place in the global economy and critically examine management structures. The module also highlights the issues involved in setting-up and developing a franchise network.
The programme is led by Professor Lola Dada, who is Head of Department of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at Lancaster University. Nigel is an honorary fellow of the Management School in recognition of his mentoring and support.
In an article written by Nigel, for Elite Franchise, in April 2021, he said the Government also need to give the sector greater recognition. He said: ‘I am continually frustrated by a lack of Government acknowledgement with regards to the value of franchising to the world of business. At local level, you would think that authorities would promote franchising as a matter of course.
‘I am also critical of franchising itself, which should be doing more to self-promote its strengths to those thinking of becoming business owners. Franchising should be viewed by Government as a great opportunity for regenerating towns and city centres. And as online giants continue to snatch a larger and larger share of the retail market – even more so during lockdown – surely there’s no better time to promote this largely forgotten industry.
‘It would offer one solution for local councils who are watching with dismay as their high streets are slowly turning into ghost towns. I’m hoping that one day we elect a Government that will create a Minister of State for Franchising. Ultimately, of course, it is down to the franchising community to better promote itself.
‘They must make a stronger case for franchising. For me, the key message they need to make is that franchising is a proven model designed to assist ‘ordinary people’ to start and build their own businesses.’
And in another article for Elite Franchise, in November 2021, Nigel explained: ‘Research shows that while around 93% of franchisees are likely to still be trading after two years, some 80% of independent start-ups will have closed.
‘Frankly, it amazes me that politicians haven’t cottoned on to this fact. You’d have thought successive Governments would have endorsed the franchise model, and maybe even been a cheerleader for the industry, by making it part of their economic regeneration programme.’
The Bardon Group operates three market-leading franchise brands: Kall Kwik, Recognition Express and Techclean. It champions the franchise business model and is keen to raise awareness of the franchising industry. While many other high street businesses have long since disappeared, Kallkwik has flourished for over 40 years.