The Champions League of Franchising

UK entrepreneur Diljit Brar named Europe's 'Franchisee of the Year.'

The Champions League of Franchising

The European Franchise Awards has been described as the ‘Champions League of Franchising’ and it’s not hard to see why. The inaugural ceremony, of an event which will now take place annually, was held earlier this week in Brussels. The 21 national associations each submitted their nominations for the five categories.

These categories were: ‘Franchisor of the Year’, ‘Franchisee of the Year’, ‘International Brand’, ‘Best Emerging Brand’, along with a ‘Special Award for Resilience’ which focused on performance and support during the pandemic. All the nominations had already been crowned national award winners, with the judges asked to select a ‘European Champion’ in each of the five categories.

This event was the brainchild of the European Franchise Federation (EFF), whose goal is to develop and promote the franchise business model across the continent. According to a spokesperson for the Federation, “our members are national franchise associations which are committed to ethical franchising. We are determined to share best practice within our growing industry community.

“It is never easy to choose between such an elite group of companies. But the EFF is grateful for everyone who took the time and effort to take part in our awards’ event.” Among this elite group of champions is one UK franchisee, while another was presented with a silver award as runner-up in their respective category.

The full list of award winners is as follows:

Franchisor of the Year

Gold: 100 Montaditos (Spain)

Silver: Eezy (Finland)

Bronze: Générale des Services (France).


International Brand

Gold: Logiscool (Hungary)

Silver: Fit 20 (Netherlands)

(llaollao of Spain received a special recognition award).


Franchisee of the Year

Gold: Goldex (UK)

Silver: Yves Rocher (France)

Bronze: Amuletti Assunot (Finland).


Best Emerging Brand

Gold: Makery DIY (Hungary)

Silver: The Co-Op (UK).


Special Award for Resilience

Gold: Fogarolli (Sweden)

Silver: Fitness Factory (Portugal)

Bronze: Kotipizza (Finland)


The UK’s big winner on the night was entrepreneur Diljit Brar, owner and managing director of the Goldex Group. Goldex own a number of companies across a range of sectors, such as leisure and property. They are also the largest Costa Coffee franchise in the UK.

Diljit left school at 16 and, more than 35 years later, his companies are collectively worth in excess of £100m. With regards to Costa, he explained: “Having spent 18 months researching, I finally decided on the Costa franchise and set to work in 2005 building the Costa business.

“In the early days my ambition was to find the territory and develop the stores at pace. Costa was growing rapidly and we wanted to move quickly to develop and occupy towns.”

Goldex was the first Costa franchise that was allowed to design and build its own stores, and Diljit admitted: “I learnt the business from the ground up, working in store as a manager and growing the teams for our future growth.” Earlier this year the company opened its 75th Costa store.

The other big UK success story was The Co-Op which took the silver award in the Best Emerging Brand category. Although The Co-Operative Group dates back to 1850, the company endured financial problems post-Millennium and re-emerged in 2016, which is why they won the award for Best Emerging Brand.

The 21 national associations that make up the European Franchise Federation are:

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom.

The Federation was founded in 1972 as a not-for-profit association to promote, defend and speak for the franchise industry in Europe. The four founding members are France, Belgium, Netherlands and Italy.

They have developed a Code of Ethics on Franchising, with the EFF spokesperson adding: “Our industry will only grow in a sustainable way if it is underpinned by a robust set of ethical standards and principles as defined by our code.”

Among the judges for this year’s first-ever awards’ ceremony was Pip Wilkins, who is the chief executive of the British Franchise Association.

Andy Swales
Andy Swales