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Top 50 Food Franchises 2017

Food franchises are currently thriving. Four out of five new franchises are profitable within two years according to the British Franchise Association (BFA), and with some of the biggest names in the UK food market utilising the many benefits of the franchise concept - and with new concepts appearing all the time – there has never been a better time to consider franchising. The names included in this year’s Top 50 are some of the crème de la crème of the food franchising industry. We have spoken to the owners and operators of the featured franchises to gain the inside track on the growth and future plans of the nation’s Top 50 Food Franchises.

1. Subway – 2,500

“For the Subway brand, our primary objective is to continue to grow our franchise network further and faster by bolstering the number of talented, entrepreneurial franchisees that are part of the brand,” says Sacha Clark, Marketing Director for Subway UK & Ireland.  And the future is looking strong, with plans to open 500 stores by 2020, bringing the total store count up to 3,000, and creating 5,000 new jobs.

Subway’s 2,500th store in the UK has recently opened in Keynsham, Somerset and is the second launched in the UK which features their new ‘Fresh Forward’ design, with the first launched in the UK at Manchester Piccadilly in March 2017.  Subway are also currently trialling self-order kiosks in the USA with a view to introducing them globally, in addition to dynamic digital menu boards as part of their the ‘Fresh Forward’ format. 

2. Costa – 2,270

Dominating the world of coffee franchising with the most amount of outlets, Costa Coffee has seen success over the last year with number of units up by 13% on last year and sales increasing by 8.7%.  It is no wonder then that according to NPD Group data, by June 2017 Britain’s well-known coffee outlets – of which Costa is a contributor -  had increased visits by 120 million since 2008 to a massive 659 million visits a year (a 22% increase on LY). 

With success in their expanding travel and drive thru channels continuing and with plans to open 230-250 Costa coffee shops and install 1,250 Costa Express machines announced in July, Costa owners Whitbread also expressed their intention to achieve global system sales of around £2.5bn for the Costa brand by 2020. 

3. Marston’s – 1,676

In their latest trading report, Ralph Findlay, Chief Executive Officer, said: “We remain encouraged by our continued market outperformance and focused on delivering sustainable growth and maximising return on capital in an evolving market place.”

“Our transformed pub estate continues to deliver positive like for like growth across all three divisions. We benefit from an operating structure which spans food-led destination and wet-let community pubs, accommodation and brewing, maintaining a good balance within our brand portfolio and broad consumer appeal.

4. McDonalds – 1,250
Serving approximately 3 million people in the UK every day, McDonalds is one of the world’s leading global foodservice retailers with over 37,000 locations in over 100 countries. Approximately 85% of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local business men and women.

With global comparable sales increasing by 6.6% on LY, success for McDonalds has been driven by their gourmet range of burgers and their foray into the world of home delivery, which has been picking up pace thanks to their tie-up with Uber Eats, and the digital re-vamp of its stores to include self-service kiosks as well as table service. 

Paul Pomroy, CEO of McDonalds UK said of the brands future; “We want the 3.7 million people that come to us every day to keep coming to us. There’s no one silver bullet for success, but what matters most to the customers is critical to our future, because we have to keep changing in this very competitive environment.”
“It doesn’t mean you change the heart of your business or rip up the rulebook, but you’ve got to stay at the forefront of what matters to the customers.”

5. Dominos – 1,000

The first Domino’s store opened in Luton in 1985 and since then, the Company has grown its store team network to over 35,000 colleagues.  By opening its 1,000th store, Domino’s is well on track to achieve its 1,600 store target for the UK. Creating around 35 jobs per store, this long term target represents approximately 21,000 additional jobs.  Domino’s recently raised its outlook to 90 stores this year, up from 80, representing a new store every four days in 2017.

Chief Executive Officer, David Wild says; “With a relentless focus on customers, quality ingredients and innovation, we continue to grow market share and lead the UK pizza delivery sector. The success and scale of the business is ultimately down to the commitment and hard work of our world class franchisees, fantastic team members and dedicated colleagues.”

6. One Stop – 944

One Stop is a retail convenience business that focusses on being the best store for customers in their neighbourhood. Open 7 days a week One Stop aims to meet the needs of all its local customers. A subsidiary of Tesco since 2003, One Stop can be found all over England and Wales. 

Their franchise model was launched way back in 2014, following a successful pilot and since then One Stop have displayed proven expertise in their field and have created a growing business with a culture of innovation.  In fact, One Stops like for like growth has outperformed the market for the last 4 years.

John Miller, Head of Operations for Franchise says; “The challenge for retailers is to ensure that they stand above local competition and become the store of choice in their neighbourhood. This means they need to get the basics right and provide great promotions and value for money underpinned by excellent customer service, and the right range backed up by strong availability.”

“Becoming a One Stop Franchisee means you can make good use of all the knowledge and expertise we have on these topics along with our scale, to help grow your business and succeed.”

7. Starbucks – 900

One of the biggest coffee chains in the UK, Starbucks has prospered as one of the most well-known brands on the British high street today, with a mix of 900 Starbucks owned and franchised stores in the UK. 

Despite a dip in profits Starbucks continue to move forward with their plans to take the brand even further.  Starbucks say, “ We have experienced significant economic and geopolitical headwinds this year which affected sales, including slowing economic growth, impact of Brexit and ongoing security concerns contributing to weakening consumer confidence.” 

Speaking after the latest results Martin Brok, president of Starbucks Europe, Middle East and Africa, said; “Whilst there are undoubted challenges presented by a more cautious consumer environment, lower high street footfall, and adverse currency impacts, we are investing significantly to drive innovation in our food and coffee offering, and are greatly encouraged by our customers’ response.”

“We also continue to focus on strategically remodelling our store portfolio to reflect changing customer demands. The UK remains one of the most important EMEA markets for us and we will continue to grow where our customers want to find us.

8. Bargain Booze – 711

Operated by Conviviality Retail, Bargain Booze is one of the most established franchised off-licences in the UK.  With the UK alcohol market valued at £40 billion, overall Conviviality is responsible for around £1 in every £12 of industry sales (8%) from a product portfolio ranging from a 35p bottle of soft drink to a £15,000 bottle of fine wine. 

Bargain Booze – alongside Select Convenience and Wine Rack – boasts 352 franchises and 711 UK outlets in total.  David Robinson, CEO, of Conviviality said in their annual 2017 statement; “We saw 39 franchisees join the group, a strong indication of the benefits of our model to independent business people.  Our core model is predicated by Franchise loyalty and commitment to upholding the values of our brands.”

“This, combined with the high standards that we set, are helping to deliver our differentiated local customer experience.”

9. Pizza Hut Delivery - 452

Operating 717 Pizza Hut outlets in total, the 452 franchise operated delivery units have gone from strength to strength since the opening of their first franchised Pizza Hut outlet in 2001.

With the rising success of home delivery now defining the fast food market, Pizza Hut Delivery is well placed to dominate the delivery market.  Last year they announced major expansion for their franchise network in the UK and planned to invest £40 million in order to open 200 new delivery outlets by 2020.

Speaking at the time Pizza Hut UK & Ireland CEO, Raphel Miolane, said: “We’ve built a firm foundation for the business since we opened our first delivery store over 15 years ago.”

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without our franchisees and we are looking forward to growing our existing relationships, whilst also developing new partnerships to achieve our ambitions.”

10. Papa Johns – 350

Leading pizza franchise, Papa John’s, continues to expand and there are now well over 350 stores in the UK.  Papa John’s is actively recruiting for new franchisees who are hungry to bring the company’s BETTER INGREDIENTS, BETTER PIZZA concept of superior quality pizza to new regions around the country.  Franchisees don’t need any direct experience of the industry as all the necessary training is provided.  However, individuals do need to be motivated, enthusiastic, and hardworking and want to be part of a growing team. 

Papa John’s is currently running an incentive scheme to help franchisees setting up.  This includes royalty reduction programme, some free equipment plus a marketing launch package.  In addition, Papa John’s provides all the help needed to set up, including location selection and full turnkey solution to opening the store.

11. Coffee Republic – 320

Coffee Republic are one of the UK’s leading coffee chains with a reputation for providing great tasting coffee and delicious freshly made food.  Currently Coffee Republic have 36 coffee bars across the UK, and 18 international bars in countries such as Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and major Spanish airports.

The vast majority of Coffee Republics are concessions, which are located nationwide.  Coffee Republic currently has a total of 320 (bars and concessions) and are the third highest coffee franchise on our list behind industry giants Costa and Starbucks.  Coffee Republic’s aim is “For all our customers to experience the best tasting coffee on the high street and to deliver on quality and consistency with each cup served.” 

12. Dixy Chicken – 140

Specialising in Halal chicken, Dixy Chicken was founded in the late 80s and since then has grown into a global chicken brand.  With a vision to become the world’s leading fast food brand, they aim to bring great value to fast food lovers. 

With 140 UK outlets as well as branches internationally, Dixy Chicken has become a regular addition to the UKs fast food scene.  With people are at the core of their business, due consideration is given to their backgrounds, previous work areas, the level of expertise and the urge to translate the business into a success story.

13. Baskin Robbins – 137

For 65 years Baskin Robbins has been delighting customers with irresistible treats and are now the world’s largest chain of ice cream speciality shops, with more than 7,300 retail shops in nearly 50 countries.  Headquartered in Massachusetts, USA, Baskin-Robbins is part of Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. along with sister brand Dunkin’ Donuts.

In addition to developing flavours, Baskin-Robbins has always been a leader in the ice cream industry with innovations such as hand-packed ice cream, a unique flavour ribbon technique, the use of traditional dessert ingredients such as apple pie and cheesecake, and the introduction of mousse-textured ice creams. The commitment of Baskin-Robbins to creating new products is evident with the introduction of signature ice cream cakes and the growing line of beverages, including Fruit Blasts, and the Cappuccino Blast frozen-blended coffee drinks, which innovated the frozen coffee category in 1994.

14. Café Rouge - 120

Café Rouge was launched in London back in 1989. Today, Café Rouge is the only established nationwide French casual dining brand in the UK. Now with over 120 restaurants in the UK, the brand serves 6 million meals each year. Unique in covering all day parts, Café Rouge combines the very best examples of classic bistro cuisine, wine and coffee in beautifully designed restaurants.

A dedicated food and marketing team work together to source the best artisanal French produce to craft dishes for the UK’s original all-day bistro. Featuring a wide menu, ranging from lighter dishes to more formal evening meals, Café Rouge has an engaged following, all eager to soak up the truly French atmosphere.

15. Pizza GoGo – 105

With 105 sites across the UK Pizza GoGo was first established in 1987 and since then has established itself as one of the UK’s leading takeaways. 

Despite outlet numbers falling ever so slightly, over 100 outlets is still a huge achievement in the competitive world of pizza franchises. 

16. Café 2 U – 95

For over twelve years Cafe2U franchisees have been delivering great coffee and food to businesses, events and functions across the UK. To put it simply, we take the premium “high street” experience directly to the customer!  The flexible model is built around the working week, so revenue from events and weekend activities can significantly increase earnings potential.

We are now officially recognised as the 4th largest branded coffee chain in the UK (by outlet numbers) with nearly 100 franchisees running their own successful Cafe2U business. Most of our franchise partners run just one van and manage to enjoy healthier work-life balance than their previous career. We then have the multi-van franchise partners with 2 or 3 vans and staff.

17. Favorite Fried Chicken - 90

Over the last 30-plus-years Favorite has demonstrated its success by providing a product menu and operational system to match and exceed any other, whilst offering it at a far more competitive cost to franchisees, not only in terms of capital start-up but ongoing. Favorite are currently the only chicken QSR to be Full Members of the British Franchise Association.  Also offering low start-up costs and a fully supported and approved franchise system, in what is still a high growth market.

Favorite has continued to develop its brand and as part of this has moved in to off-street locations, with the opening of its Tollgate Services unit in the last 12 months. This new venture has demonstrated the viability of the Favorite menu and offering alongside other major brands within this format, as well on the high street and offers great potential for further expansion.

18. Millie’s Cookies – 83

Millie’s Cookies was founded in 1985, opening its first store within the famous Selfridges department store food hall on Oxford Street, London. Since then they have grown their business to 83 stores in the UK as well as stores in France, Germany, Hong Kong and Malta. With a strong brand identity and a loyal fan base worldwide. Millie’s is one of the most well-received dessert franchises in the UK. 

Millie’s has experienced a steady year since 2016’s Top 50, Millie’s is moving forwards with new openings in Birkenhead and St Helens.  Also, the extension of their partnership with frozen food specialist Iceland, is a clear indicator of the potential growth for this dessert specialist. 

19. Mr Simms – 80

Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe is a confectionery store chain which offers a range of boiled sweet products in Victorian-style stores. Opening in September 2004, there are currently 80 Mr Simms located in the UK, with an additional 7 international stores located in France and Hong Kong.

Stocking childhood favourite sweets such as cola cubes and cream soda, the nostalgia associated with Mr Simms has assured its place as number 18 in our Top 50. 

20. Wimpy – 78

One of the best-known names on the casual dining scene, Wimpy has recently embarked on a nationwide refurbishment and expansion programme.  The company been busy upgrading many of its existing 79 restaurants and has plans to open seven new operations over the next 12 months, while continuing to seek new franchisees.

Born in London in 1954 and proud of its British heritage, Wimpy successfully taps into the memory bank of the baby boomers, while continuing to please new generations with its menu classics such as the Wimpy Hamburger and Knickerbocker Glory.

It has kept up-to-date with trends by guaranteeing all its burgers are made with 100% British beef, displaying calorie counts on all its menus and serving a ranger of lighter meals and salads.
Wimpy is now part of the South African-based Famous Brands family, where fellow brands include Steers, Debonairs Pizza and Mugg & Bean.

21. Chicken Cottage – 72

The first Chicken Cottage opened in Wembley, North London in 1994, since then it has become synonymous with the UK fast food scene, a regular addition to our high streets.  Offering fresh, Halal chicken it has proved to be a success with the UK public as well as overseas, with international branches in Brussels, Germany and Italy to name a few. 

Owned by TI Global Food Holdings Ltd incorporated, it is one of the fastest growing British franchise opportunities. 

22. Riverford – 69

Riverford Organic Farmers grow and deliver award-winning fresh organic fruit and veg boxes straight from its own farms to homes across the UK via their network of franchisees.  The box scheme began 30 years ago, when founder Guy Watson left behind his management consultant career in London to return to his parents’ South Devon farm and started growing veg.

Early days saw the produce grown and delivered using only three acres and a wheel barrow. Guy initially started delivering his vegetables locally to friends in Devon.  In 1999 Riverford launched its franchise network, which now has 60 thriving franchisees who are Riverford’s brand ambassadors across the country; building relationships with, and delivering ethically grown organic produce to, thousands of loyal customers. Riverford now deliver around 47,000 boxes a week.

Riverford continues to develop its existing model by extending their current range, developing new products and investing in IT solutions and marketing.

23. Chopstix – 65

Offering a fresher, healthier and faster alternative and with its tasty menu and contemporary surroundings, CHOPSTIX attracts customers of all age groups and demographic profiles. Having doubled its outlet count in less than 18 months, the accessible Oriental food brand is now one of the UK’s fastest growing brands, with 72 outlets in total - 65 of which are located across the UK.

32 stores in the current CHOPSTIX portfolio are franchises. This figure is set to rise dramatically as the brand engages with new franchisees, attracted by the wide selection of available territories, competitive entry cost, high returns, low space requirements and average service times under a minute.  Through multi-site and master franchise agreements, Chopstix is set to become even more visible within the nation’s shopping centres, high streets and motorway services networks.

24. Muffin Break - 60

With a recorded 6% growth per annum over the past three years and over 300 stores worldwide – 60 of these located in the UK – Muffin Break is the third highest placing dessert based franchise to feature on this year’s Top 50. 

With store openings in Chester, Basildon and Chatham this year, the chain provides freshly baked items in store, as well as a wide range of hot and cold drinks, including a bespoke coffee blend which is made from 100% Arabica beans.  They are also constantly updating their portfolio, including the Eton Mess Strawberry and Cream muffin, released during Wimbledon and their hummus wrap, released in reaction to growing consumer demand for more vegetarian options. 

25. Bella Italia – 62

Bella Italia has a history spanning over 40 years, and during 2017 its parent company The Casual Dining Group gave the brand a complete refresh, and the great news is; their customers love it!

Its contemporary design, all day Italian menu, and warm & welcoming personality combine to prove a winning formula for an ever-growing army of loyal customers. Now with over 62 restaurants in the UK, and more opening all the time, they’re familiar and loved – with each visit ending with a full belly and a massive smile. With sites due to open in Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Africa and Ireland under franchise, the appeal of the brand is set to increase; so there has never been a better time to join the Bella family.

Their dedicated food development team work tirelessly on creating the most authentic Italian dining experience- keeping dishes operationally simple to execute to ensure every customer is wowed. Unique in covering all day parts, with a wide appeal, Bella Italia has the widest range of dishes of any UK Italian branded restaurant, all prepared with the most authentic of Italian ingredients.

26. Pepe’s – 61

Pepe’s started in 2007 with our first store opening in Watford, London. For the first four years we operated just 3 company stores whilst developing our product offering and in-house support infrastructure. We signed our first franchisees in 2011 and since then our network has grown to over 60 franchised stores across the UK.

We now also have 3 franchise offerings: Pepe’s QSR; Pepe’s - The Piri Piri Grill; and Pepe’s Express and our plans are to have over 100 franchised stores in the UK by the end of 2019. In support of our UK development we have also sold Master Franchises for the USA, Ireland, Pakistan and Morocco and are currently in discussions for Master Franchises in another 5 countries.

27. Warrens Bakery – 54

2017 is quickly becoming the year of the Cornish pasty takeover, with new Warrens Bakery store openings announced each month. As well as celebrating numerous openings and franchise partnerships, the team has been raising a toast after being shortlisted as one of the top three craft bakery businesses in the country, in the Baking Industry Awards 2017.

After a hugely successful and busy year to date, the world’s oldest Cornish pasty maker continues its quest for national expansion with the announcement of their 54th location in Bridgwater.

28. Las Iguanas – 53

Las Iguanas offers delicious fresh Latin food and a bar renowned for high quality Latin inspired cocktails, as well as the largest selection of rums and tequilas in the UK. Now with over 50 restaurants, up and down the UK, the brand is in an exciting period of growth, with over 10 UK restaurants opened in the last 12 months. Set to hit the international scene soon, across the Middle East and beyond, the fresh & authentic Mexican, Brazilian & South American food & cocktails are sure the find ever more loyal amigos.

Keeping true to its Latin roots by the team have close ties with South America including friends, suppliers, charities and organisations. Regular visits serve to keep enhancing the brand and the authenticity, making sure the design and menus are best in class.

- Appealing to a wide age group, with a loyal following amongst millennials
- A market leading cocktail menu, with huge bar trade potential
- Unique in offering Latin American food, that goes beyond Mexican dishes
- Nationwide presence
- Suited to a range of locations

29. Creams Café – 47

Creams Cafe is a fast casual dining restaurant specialising in waffles, crepes, sundaes, milkshakes and gelato.  The Creams story began in 2008. The first restaurant came about after meticulous research from the founding partners, who sourced special ingredients and products, including the authentic Italian gelato that inspired them.  Since then, the brand has grown from strength to strength, with 55 restaurants currently trading across the UK and a further 50 in development. The ambition is to develop the franchise quickly by opening a further 300 outlets throughout the UK.

A Creams restaurant is 2,000 to 3,000 square feet and ideally located in high-footfall destinations close to other restaurants and cinemas. Creams targets traditional high-street locations, as well as out-of-town retail and leisure parks. A smaller kiosk format is also being developed that will be 200 to 1,000 square feet in size and typically located in high-footfall locations. Creams believes it can open more than 100 of these over the next five years. 

With very strong sales across the estate and a healthy return on investment, Creams Cafe represents an excellent food franchise opportunity.

30. With Thanks – 47

With Thanks is a brand that sells sweets and snacks, directly through franchises or in partnership with brands and organisations.  Offering those looking for franchise opportunities an ideal platform to run their own ethical confectionery business, earning an additional income selling sweets for charity.

Franchisees sell a range of charity branded sweets and products from impactful self-service point of sale units located in work places, shops, leisure centres and other locations.  In March this year, With Thanks launched five new franchises in Stevenage, High Wycombe, Banbury, Slough and Halesowen, and six of their existing franchisees expanded by increasing their box numbers.

31. Giraffe – 46

Operating their 9 franchised restaurants through airports and travel hubs, Giraffe World Kitchen has a total of 46 UK outlets.  Approached by The Restaurant Group (TRG) - who license food and beverage concessions in UK airports - Giraffe agreed to franchise their name after it was thought the brand would make a refreshing change to the usual airport fare.

They currently have franchise restaurants located in London Heathrow (both T1 & T5 airside plus a juice bar landside in T5), Manchester Airport (airside) and London Gatwick Airport (landslide) and Dubai International Terminal 3 Concourse A.

32. Oast House Farm - 43

Charity snacks box franchise Oast House, an Associate Member of the British Franchise Association, has more than 40 franchisees now operating, and plan to have a network of 50 franchisees by early 2018. The network contributed more than £40,000 to the charities they support in the last 12 months, and has now expanded into all four constituencies of the UK covering Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland too.

Franchise Director, Matt Simmonds, has promised more to come, including a new version of its franchise management system to enhance support and efficiency for franchisees.  Oast House offers three different investment levels for franchisees, all under £10,000 in total, building its network on ethics both in franchising and in community support. Oast House operates without management service fees – instead, franchisees contribute a small percentage of their turnover to charities including The Sick Children’s Trust, which provides support to families in their most difficult times.

33. Harry Ramsdens -43

One of the UK’s most recognisable Fish & Chip shops, Harry Ramsdens world famous Fish & Chips has been in the UK since 1928.  Harry Ramsden’s began serving fish and chips on 20th December 1928 from a small striped wooden hut beside a tram stop in Guiseley, West Yorkshire.

Harry Ramsden’s have a proud heritage and history of success that speaks for itself, known not only for their world famous fish and chips but as a destination and great place to eat.  No wonder, as currently it is estimated that the UK eats 382 million portions of fish and chips every year. 

34. Kaspa’s – 43

With the dessert only restaurant gaining in popularity, Kaspa’s is well placed to dominate this market with 43 restaurants and growing.  Kaspa’s have plans for a further 22 this year alone.  Their menu hosts a selection of ice creams, gelatos, waffles, crepes, milkshakes, smoothies and sundaes.

The fact that there are two dessert only restaurants in the Top 50 shows the growing popularity in this field, definitely a one to watch. 

35. Tops Pizza – 42

With stores situated around the South West, Tops Pizza is another pizza chain contender on the UK high-street.  Opened in 1989 Tops Pizza has expanded since then to a total of 42 outlets. 
The pizza specialists have upped their outlet numbers by 2 in the last year.

36. Spudulike – 40

One of the UK’s most well-known food-to-go specialists, Spudulike has been a familiar face on the UK high-street since its opening, in 1974.  Now 43 years later, the chain boasts 40 outlets situated up and down the country. 

Initial expansion focussed mainly on opening managed outlets in and around Edinburgh, however, towards the late 1970’s management turned to franchising as a method of more rapidly expanding the business. Between 1979 and 1982, spudulike was acquired by the British School of Motoring who made use of their franchising experience to develop the business, creating a much loved brand amongst consumers throughout the UK. This partnership allowed Spudulike to thrive and introduce new products before it demerged from BSM and became an independent family owned company, active in all areas of the fast-food market from high street stores to shopping centres.

Today, spudulike’s expertise in the baked potato business is second to none, owing their success to a passion for honest, seasonal and flavoursome food.

37. Roly’s Fudge – 39

Originating from Devon in the West Country over 30 years ago, and currently located up and down the country Roly’s Fudge is the largest fudge franchise system in the world and in 2016, nine fudge pantries were opened with many more planned in 2017. 

Many of Roly’s franchisees open not just one, but several shops and over 80% of their franchisees own 2 or more shops, with some owning as many as four shops each.  Their first franchised outlet was opened in 1996 in Ilfracombe since then they have spread across the country.

38. Shakeaway - 37

Shakeaway, the world’s largest milkshake bar company since 1999 operates a successful worldwide franchise in the cold dessert marketplace, attracting family audiences across all demographic sectors.
In addition to offering over 180 milkshake flavours, Shakeaway’s balanced menu features real fruit smoothies, fit and healthy shakes, lower fat fries, fat free frozen yoghurt desserts and refreshing shaved ice re-invented at less than 160 calories per serving.

The company ethos is honest and reasonable, with a focus on controlled organic growth. Shakeaway operates low cost, effective marketing programmes via instore, online, TV and radio promotion; recently being awarded finalist status for ‘Best Overall Marketing Campaign’ at the 2017 Franchise Marketing Awards. 

Shakeaway has 37 UK and 11 international stores, growing fast with 8 UK and 7 International stores due to open this year, including flagship stores in: South Africa, Qatar, Poland, Colombia, India and the UAE. Within 2-3 years Shakeaway’s fast expansion will peak to above the 100-store total.

39. Sam’s Chicken – 37

Sam’s began operation in 1990, its first restaurants situated in Wealdstone, Harrow, and Middlesex.  It has since expanded to 37 outlets nationwide, although its main presence is in London. 
After developing their own secret mix of spices and a signature process of cooking - to give their chicken its crispy golden brown coating - Sam’s Chicken features on the Top 50 for the second year in a row.

40. SOHO Coffee Co -33

With their distinctive logo quite literally up in lights, Soho Coffee is up and comer in the competitive coffee business.  Opening in 1999, Soho has established itself as a diverse independent company with independent ideals. 

With a flourish of new openings in London over the last few months, SOHO is expanding rapidly.  Speaking of their latest opening Penny Manuel, Managing Director of SOHO Coffee Co. explains; “All our stores are individual; as individual as our customers.”

“Our sites in London highlight this diversity and we are enjoying the opportunities and challenges this brings. We pride ourselves on offering something for everyone.”

41. COOK food -33

COOK was founded in 1997 by Edward Perry and Chef Dale Penfold. The idea was simple, to make remarkable meals for your freezer by hand, using the same ingredients and techniques as a good home cook, so everything looks and tastes homemade. They managed to hold on to their independence during the recession and today they have two large kitchens and close to 90 shops (a mixture of company-owned and franchises).
Unusually, they are involved in every step of the process: from sourcing ingredients and cooking them, to packing, transporting, and selling the meals in their shops. COOK food can also be found in branded freezers in like-minded, independent concessions (you won’t find them in any of the big supermarkets). They believe business can be a force for good in society and are a B Corporation, accredited by the Living Wage Foundation, and are currently ranked 31st in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For, making them the highest placed manufacturer.

42. Auntie Ann’s - 32

Auntie Anne’s are the worlds’ largest hand rolled soft Pretzel Franchise with nearly 1,400 locations in 26 countries including 1,000 in the USA; 100 in Thailand, and over 20 stores in Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

With new pretzel flavours released this year, a brand new catering menu, a new logo to appeal to ‘generation Z’ and a successful loyalty app under their belt, Auntie Ann’s has established itself as one of the leaders in food to go. 

43. Esquire’s Coffee – 31

Esquires Coffee isn’t just another soulless high street coffee chain, their stores are the hub of the community in which they serve. Esquires Coffee’s core principles are focussed around serving exceptional quality Fairtrade and organic coffee, with premier customer service in aspirational yet comfortable store environments.

What makes Esquires Coffee different to the other coffee chains that dominate the UK high street is the brand’s commitment to providing a product, service and setting that is second to none. Esquires is all about creating a unique customer experience that keeps the customer coming back for more. Esquires stores are designed to fit the needs of the modern day coffee drinker, communal tables for groups, smaller tables for dates and business meetings, comfy booth seating, USB ports for charging laptops and smartphones, daily newspapers and relaxing background music.

Esquires currently have 31 stores operating in the UK with a further 5 stores set to open by the end of 2017. Esquires are actively recruiting franchisees to open single and multiple stores across the UK and aim to be operating 200 stores in the UK by 2021.

44. Wok & Go – 27

Wok&Go offers a quick, nutritious and affordable alternative to traditional fast food. Its concept of authentic Asian cuisine, cooked fresh and served fast, is proving popular with students, shoppers, office workers and families – all hungry for the value and convenience of restaurant quality food without the wait. Wok&Go stores serve eat-in, takeaway and delivery orders, giving us a broad appeal all-year round.
Their approach has made them one of the fastest growing businesses in the fast-casual market,
Wok&Go is growing fast, with 27 UK locations and more to come in 2017, including overseas expansion. We’ve already identified great locations for our next group of openings and we’re ready to match them with suitable franchisees.

45. Oggy Oggy Pasty Company – 25

Oggy Oggy Pasty Co was originally established in 1993 in Penzance by two local entrepreneurs who produced and sold their own Cornish pasties & bakery products throughout the region.  In 2003 Oggy Oggy formally established their franchising operation and quickly expanded the reach of the business throughout the South West and further afield. Since then the business has evolved significantly and is now a well-respected franchising operation.

They also added a Van sales franchising model, and also a Retail Concession so that existing retail businesses and attractions can offer Oggy Oggy’s freshly baked pasties with their own product ranges.  Now at 25 outlets Oggy Oggy sit at number 44 on our Top 50. 

46. Really Awesome Coffee – 25

Coffee is making a huge impact in this year’s Top 50! Really Awesome Coffee, the mobile cafe franchise, serves fresh gourmet coffee, hot & cold drinks as well as an array of snacks and confectionery directly to customers wherever they are. They currently have a network of 25 franchise partners located across the country and growing year on year. With 50-70 million cups of coffee consumed per day, it is no wonder that mobile coffee vans are gaining more interest as an avenue to capitalise on this booming market.

Each van is designed with the mobile barista in mind, utilising the latest tech to offer a ‘one stop shop’ mobile coffee service. Delivery top notch fresh products with an efficient service is highly prized by consumers today, and Really Awesome Coffee has capitalised on this demand for quality and convenience.

47. Oakhouse Foods – 23

From their headquarters in Wiltshire, Oakhouse Foods has become one of the country’s favourite ready meal services, and have been delivering to customers across Britain for the last 20 years.
Supporting its customers in their ability to live independently, Oakhouse has become a household name, due to its array of convenient frozen ready meals.  Oakhouse has expanded by one franchise since our last Top 50.

48. Chozen Noodle - 22

Asian cuisine is currently topping the charts in terms of popularity, with many areas of the UK picking it as their favourite.  Chozen Noodle resides at number 47 with 22 outlets dotted across the UK.

With a menu deliberately limited to between 8-10 dishes, they are renowned for their quality, fresh ingredients.  By creating custom made dishes, Chozen Noodle have capitalised on consumers who want more than burgers and fried chicken.

49. Tossed – 21

Healthy food to go concept Tossed has 21 stores located across London, 14 of these are stores, 2 can be found within shopping centres and 6 can be found at Welcome Breaks. 

Opening in the spring of 2005, Tossed was founded from a simple mission, to create a new, healthy and exciting food experience that didn’t compromise on taste or portion size.  The chain now employs 217 people and founder Vincent McKevitt has expressed plans to open 48 new salad restaurants by 2020. 

Last year the forward thinking franchise rolled out touch-screen menus for customers, instead of manned tills and began taking payment by card only.  Now the healthy chain has announced successful first year results in the trial as they saw turnover increase by 13.6%. 

50. El Mexicana – 21

The El Mexicana brand has gone from strength to strength over the last 12 months. As the appetite for Mexican food shows no signs of slowing down, El Mexicana have capitalised by opening 3 new stores across the country. The first in Liverpool’s busy city centre in December 2016, was soon followed in February 17 by a store in the food court of the McArthur Glen shopping centre Bridgend. Finally in May of this year, El Mexicana opened at the White Rose. Bringing the total to 21 stores across the country.

Building on the strength of the El Mexicana brand, we are now opening a sister brand called Cocina. Which has a more casual dining approach and will allow diners to linger slightly longer over their Mexican feast. The first store will open in Swansea in Sept 2017, to be quickly followed by 2 locations in Norwich, one in Milton Keynes and another in Telford. With more locations planned for early next year.
*All figures provided by the franchisors or their representatives. Every effort was made to ensure all relevant franchises were contacted regarding this feature.

Tuesday, 12th September, 2017
MVH Media
Food Franchise