How Five Guys conquered the UK burger market

September 23, 2019

When Five Guys was preparing to open its first UK restaurant in Covent Garden in 2013, it seemed to be facing an uphill battle.

Despite trading from over 1,000 restaurants in the US and Canada, the brand was lesser known in the UK. London’s ‘better burger’ market was booming, with the likes of Byron and Gourmet Burger Kitchen on the expansion trail, and the team was uncertain if there was appetite for another burger chain.

“I remember standing in the restaurant with no idea if anyone was going to show up,” says John Eckbert, Five Guys’ Florida-born UK CEO. “We don’t advertise, so I kept thinking, is anyone going to care about a new American brand?”

Adding to the pressure was Shake Shack, the New York-based burger chain created by hospitality entrepreneur Danny Meyer, which was set to make its own London debut just 24 hours later.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

But Eckbert’s fears were unfounded. When Five Guys opened on 4 July 2013 the first customer showed up at 4am, and there was soon a queue around the block. It quickly became the number one Five Guys in the world.

Not just phoning it in

Launched in 1986 by Jerry and Janie Murrell and their sons – the original ‘five guys’ – in Arlington, Virginia, the chain now has over 1,500 restaurants worldwide. The UK business is backed by Carphone Warehouse mogul Sir Charles Dunstone, who believed it could thrive on a struggling high street. So far, his hunch has paid off.

Six years since its arrival, Five Guys’ red and white branding has become almost as ubiquitous as Pret a Manger in some parts of London. The Covent Garden restaurant has been so successful that sites have opened all around it in Charing Cross, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly and Tottenham Court Road.

While Shake Shack has cautiously expanded to nine London restaurants and one in Cardiff, Five Guys has steamed ahead to 99 nationwide locations and will break the 100 mark by 2020. It initially expected to open 10 stores this year, but Eckbert says it could reach twice that.

Related: Food Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

“We’re confident enough to go at a faster flow, but we don’t want to be on every street corner,” he says.

The cost of opening so many sites has not come cheap. The company posted a pre-tax loss of £3.9m​ in the year to 31 December 2018, but operating profit rose to £5.8m in the UK. Eckbert describes the UK business as ‘essentially self-funding’. A £100m bank facility from Goldman Sachs, secured last year, is largely being used to support wider European expansion in to Germany, France and Spain.

“If you see same store sales falling maybe you’ve grown too fast,” he says. “Right now, we’re seeing meaningful like for like sales in our restaurants. Our oldest sites are growing quite robustly. To me that is a real indication of the health of the brand and encouraging that we’re doing the right thing.”

Challenges to growth

This burst of activity has come amid a malaise settling across parts of the UK casual dining market. Byron, a former sector success story, was sold to private equity firm Hutton Collins​ the same year Five Guys debuted in London but has since shuttered sites and is undergoing a rebrand. GBK and northern-based Handmade Burger Co have similarly closed several restaurants.

Related: Five Guys Franchise

So why has Five Guys excelled where others have failed? Unconventionally for a fast food brand it has no freezers in its kitchens, litters stores with sacks of free peanuts for customers and doesn’t advertise. Eckbert says the best marketing strategy is a ‘happy customer’, and the Murell philosophy is to redirect ad budget in to sourcing ingredients. He claims less than 1% of beef in the UK meets the brand’s standards, which specifies meat must be grain fed, and fries are hand-cut in-store every day. Then there’s the price. A regular-sized burger starts at £6.75 but is customisable with 15 free toppings.

“What Pret did for fresh sandwiches Five Guys has done for burgers,” says Eckbert. “The idea you can have a burger made exactly the way you want it is very American, but it’s becoming more important in the UK, particularly to millennials. We have 15 free toppings, so that’s 250,000 different combinations, but also 249,999 wrong ways to make your sandwich.”

Eckbert is keen to play up Five Guys’ family-owned credentials and says this is partly why it has avoided the decline which has hit several restaurant chains backed by investment funds.

“We have a very different time frame to some of our competitors,” explains Eckbert. “If you’re owned by private equity you have a specific window to build, grow and sell, but we’re not constrained by that. Our objective is to build a business for the long term.”

He adds that Five Guys has not had it easy in the UK. “Essentially every aspect of the business has been challenged, from rate increases on property, rising minimum wage and currency pressures. But we seem to have gathered strength amid headwinds that have caught out other brands in the space.”

One obstacle in reaching 100 restaurants has not been finding sites, but enough staff to run them. “That was a big hurdle at the outset and still is today,” says Eckbert. “Our restaurants are only as good as our in-store leadership.” The company is working on developing its future managers, and each store is mystery shopped twice a week. Five Guys says it pays out approximately £3.1m in incentives and rewards to staff in the best-performing sites each year.

American invasion

Since Five Guys landed seven years ago numerous other North American burger players have crossed the pond, but not all have lasted. Both Steak n Shake​ (over 500 US sites) and BurgerFi (around 100) have exited the UK​ less than three years after arriving. Smashburger opened in Milton Keynes in 2016​ boasting plans to launch 35 sites, and has so far reached seven, while Fatburger initially said it was targeting 15 restaurants when it landed on these shore but has launched just two since 2015.

Even more US brands have arrived this year, with movie star Mark Walhberg’s Wahlburgers, Eggslut, Halal Guys and soon New York’s Sweet Chick hoping for a cut of the market. Eckbert believes many North American chains see the UK as a “friendly” launchpad to global expansion, as was the case with Five Guys, but points to the mixed success rate as a cautionary tale.

“It’s a risk to treat the UK as the 51​ state in terms of expansion, without taking the time or effort to understand the market,” he says.

“There is a lot of pride and some arrogance mixed in there that is not helpful. Every aspect of the business has meaningful differences, if you think it will be the same or easy, you’ll be surprised.”

Growth plans

Going forwards, Five Guys is looking at growth beyond its high street sites. Delivery was not initially on the company radar due to a perception by the Murrells that it was associated with cheaper, lower-quality food in the US, but Eckbert says it is now a small but “increasingly important part of the business” and one he believes will “outpace the growth of the overall restaurant industry” going forwards.

Five Guys’ partnership with Deliveroo also led to the introduction of a breakfast menu​ in student-heavy Bristol earlier this year. Available from 8am-11am, the range includes coffee, orange juice and burger buns with a combination of egg, cheese and bacon fillings priced from £3.95 to £6.45. Breakfast was previously trialled in a handful of UK locations a few years ago, but Eckbert says it could be rolled out to further sites in future.

“It is a narrower offer so I don’t think we’ve completely nailed the breakfast menu that Five Guys could do, but interestingly we end up selling a surprising number of burgers in the morning,” he says. “We have some great locations where we could definitely pull some breakfast customers in to the store.”

He will also not rule out Five Guys taking a spot in a Deliveroo Editions ‘dark kitchen’ and has seen opportunities to expand in to transport hubs under franchise but has resisted both over concerns around controlling kitchen standards. Five Guys’ site at Paris’ Gare du Nord – another location serving breakfast – has been “blowing the doors off”, according to Eckbert, who still believes transport hubs can be a “great opportunity” for the brand. 

The future

So just how big can Five Guys get? Eckbert insists the company is not looking to ‘take over the world’, but how about the UK? He quotes a Savanta BrandVue survey of 4,711 people conducted between February and July this year that hints the chain is not even halfway towards its ambition.

“About 45% of the UK is familiar with Five Guys, and only a fraction of those have even gone in to a store,” says Eckbert. “We know there’s a massive opportunity for the UK to discover us. How big that can be I don’t know. I do know we’ll keep opening stores and feeding hungry customers. If we keep doing that, I think we’ll be alright.”

By Sophie Witts

Source: Big Hospitality

Salad Box opens second UK store

September 23, 2019

A brand-new healthy fast food outlet is coming to Birmingham next month. Global franchise Salad Box will open on Great Charles Street Queensway in October, serving up an array of fresh and nutritious meals and snacks, made using ingredients of the highest quality.

With a focus on fresh vegetables and fruits, Salad Box offers salads, wraps, soups, desserts and juices which will help workers in the Second City sustain a healthy diet without compromising their time, energy or savings. And for customers in need of a morning or afternoon lift, Salad Box will also be selling coffee from local favourites 200 Degrees.

Salad Box will provide the perfect solution for time-poor professionals in the Colmore Business District and Jewellery Quarter looking for fresh, nutritious food on the go to match their healthy lifestyles. Customers will be able to select from a menu of delicious classics, or customise their own meal, with a wide range of vegetarian and gluten/vegan-friendly options to choose from.

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

Founded in Romania in 2012, Salad Box became an instant hit, opening twelve restaurants in its home country in the first year. And in just seven years, it has not only grown to become the third largest fast food chain in Romania after McDonald’s and KFC, but also a true international success story. Salad Box now has more than 70 outlets across 12 countries in three continents, with stores in some of the most important cities in the world, including New York, Miami, Paris, London and Rome.

The Birmingham franchise will be driven by Tara Johal, a proud Brummie with more than fifteen years’ experience in retail management in the city. Salad Box will employ up to eight staff, and the 1000 square foot grab-and-go site in Lombard House will also include nine covers for dine-in customers.

Related: Food Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

Tara Johal, Salad Box franchisee for Birmingham, said: “Salad Box is the future of fast food and there’s a massive gap in the market in Birmingham for what we offer. We’re a young, energetic city and the people who work here have been crying out for somewhere selling convenient, healthy lunchtime options to match their active lifestyles. I’m confident that our nutritious salads, wraps, soups, desserts and juices will prove to be a huge hit with busy professionals in the heart of the city.”

The site in Birmingham will be the second Salad Box in the UK. The first outlet opened on London’s Brick Lane in 2017, and there are plans to open more outlets across the UK in the near future.


Source: BQ Live

Local sports enthusiast is all set to clean up in Poole, Bournemouth and surrounding areas

September 23, 2019

Nigel Ackrell is launching his own Oven Cleaning Business as part of the Oven Wizards Franchise. Nigel has lived in the local area most of his life, and, as he knows the area really well, he believes there will be a strong demand for his services.


Nigel says “I was looking for a business idea that would be something I would enjoy doing and that would provide a great service to local people. I came across the idea of an oven cleaning business and then started to research the market. I soon realised that becoming an Oven Wizard offered me a great opportunity, particularly with the support of a successful Franchise Brand.

Related: Cleaning Franchises in the UK – Here’s All You Need to Know

Mark Abbott, owner of the Oven Wizards business said “From the first time we met Nigel, we knew he would make a great success of running an Oven Wizards Franchise, particularly because of his great passion for customer service.”

Mark went on to explain “There is a growing demand from people who want to have their ovens professionally cleaned because it is probably the hardest and most hated job in most households “.

Related: Cleaning Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

Oven Wizards have provided Nigel with comprehensive training which will enable him to professionally clean all sorts of makes and models of ovens.

As well as Poole and Bournemouth, Nigel also covers Wimborne, Ferndown, Broadstone, Swanage and Verwood.

A recent Survey indicates that oven cleaning is one of the most hated chores in the home. Taking into account the fact that there are over 26 million households in the UK and that nearly each one has at least one oven and a hob, the growing domestic cleaning market therefore provides unlimited opportunities to delight our customers.

Related: Oven Wizards Franchise

Rochdale business delivers global success

September 22, 2019

A growing family business set up from a bedroom in Rochdale is now a global company trading in 14 countries worldwide.

With an office at the Lock 50 Business Centre on Oldham Road, InXpress is part of one of the largest shipping franchise networks in the world, now celebrating 20 years in business.

InXpress provides courier services for thousands of UK and international customers, helping move millions of items each year, from documents and packets, parcels and components through to shipping containers for businesses large and small. With 95 franchises in the UK and bases worldwide, their services are fully integrated and all managed online. They’ve been involved in everything from arranging seafreight to Los Angeles, to delivering replica red phone boxes around the world.

Fuelled by the boom in e-commerce it’s an amazing success story for a company started by Littleborough resident John Thompson. After outgrowing the family home in Rochdale, the company moved its head offices to premises on Fieldhouse Lane, before expanding to Blueberry Business Park in Rochdale.

Related: Delivery, Parcel And Courier Franchises UK – Should You Buy A UK Courier Franchise?

In 2012 John’s daughter Nikki Edwards swapped her career as a PE teacher to invest in the franchise herself, recruiting new staff in the process, meaning a new office was needed: “It was tough to walk away from the school and a job I loved, but I had lots of support from the InXpress head office. We looked at offices nearby as we needed space for a team of eight and were all impressed with Lock 50, so took the plunge and moved in.

“Initially, we had one of the smallest offices but with three franchises we wanted to work out of the same premises, so expanded here when space became available.”

And it has certainly proved to be the right move, added Nikki: “Our office at Lock 50 is great, the location is perfect and the facilities and services have really helped us. It’s a good environment to be in, with lots of like-minded business people around.”

Related: Courier Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

Though Nikki’s father has now retired, it’s still a family firm, with her sister and brother all very much involved.

Plans for further expansion are underway, with the high tech company recruiting more sales staff and unveiling new cutting edge shipping software this month, which Nikki says will further improve their service: “The business has heavily invested in a platform that can help our customers save time and money, keeping everything in one place and all tracked in real time.

“We’re really happy in Rochdale; InXpress employ local staff who like the location and it’s where it all began, so we’re proud to call it home.”

As well as celebrating 20 years in business, 2019 has been another good year for the global company, seeing them ranked twelfth in the prestigious list of ‘Franchise Direct’s Top 100 Franchises’, ahead of household names including Costa Coffee and Burger King. They’ve also made the final of the Franchise Marketing Awards.

Related: InXpress Franchise

Councillor Daalat Ali, deputy leader and cabinet member for resources at Rochdale Borough Council said: “InXpress is an innovative, multi-award winning company and I am proud to see how far they have come in the last two decades. Founded in Rochdale, it’s also very pleasing to see them still here, committed to the area and continuing to thrive with their head office in Rochdale and an office in our council-run managed workspace.”

Source: Rochdale Online

Co-op and NUS agree exclusive retail franchise partnership

September 22, 2019

The Co-op has become the exclusive retail grocery store franchise partner for the National Union of Students (NUS) as part of a deal which could see it serving seven million students over the next five years, as more Co-op franchise stores open on NUS member campuses.

The expansion programme aims to create a significant number of new Co-op branded stores under its new franchise offering, as part of its plans to open 100 new stores in 2019.

The new stores will be run and managed independently by individual NUS members and will give access to a tailored range of 2,500 Co-op own brand products, with a wide range of fair trade, free-from and vegan options.

Co-op head of new channels Martin Rogers said: “We are delighted to partner with a like-minded organisation, like NUS, and to support the health, wellbeing and employment of students.

“Young people are hugely important for us and we look forward to working closely with NUS members and serving campus communities up and down the UK.

“We’ve a strong track-record in delivering for our customers and we know that when we work together to achieve a common purpose, great things can happen.

Related: Retail Franchise UK – Should You Buy UK Retail Franchises?

“This is a pioneering opportunity to grow our brand, share our values, and get our products into the hands of the next generation of customers and members.”

NUS vice president of union development Erica Ramos added: “This new agreement with the Co-op builds on our existing relationship and the shared values that sit at the heart of the Co-op, NUS and students’ unions and associations across the UK.

“I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to strike this agreement with one of our long-standing partners and look forward to seeing these new franchises taken up by our members.”

Related: Retail Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

The Co-op has so far opened seven franchise stores, with four based at universities, including Leeds (pictured) and Newcastle.

With a Co-op Membership card, students also get 5% back on purchases of Co-op products and services and TOTUM cardholders get an additional 10% off their shop.

By Gaelle Walker

Source: Convenience Store

KFC to open hundreds of new outlets ­­— including one in Bolton

September 20, 2019

KFC has plans to open dozens of new outlets across the North West — including one in Bolton.

The fast food giant has published a list of target areas to open restaurants across the country, with Bolton East among the 543 places named for a potential franchise.

Other nearby areas listed on KFC’s target locations list are Darwen, Leyland, Tyldesley, Swinton, Salford, Sale, Altrincham and Oldham.

Cllr Debbie Newall, who represents Breightmet, said: “I just think, with anything like this, if it brings jobs and opportunities to the area it is something we should consider.

“For example, they have done one in Farnworth and it was being very well received by residents as it is bringing jobs and a high standard of fast food to the area.”

Related: Fast Food Franchises in the UK – 10 Things Every Would-Be Franchisee Must Know

Restaurant bosses are due to open the Farnworth franchise by the end of the year and a metal frame has now been erected on land between King Street and Albert Road.

That restaurant will create 40 jobs in the area ­— 20 full time and 20 part time.

A spokesman for KFC said: “We have bold ambitions to have over 1,000 stores in the UK and Ireland by 2020.

Related: Food Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

“We are looking to build over 50 new stores a year.”

KFC was introduced to the UK in 1965 with its first branch in Preston, but today it operates 850 outlets in the country.

Cllr Roy Davies who represents the Darwen East ward, said he would welcome the fast-food giant to the town if they decided to open a restaurant.

He said: “We have got a lot of restaurants in Darwen but we want to have more businesses that would make people come into Darwen and that is what would happen with this.

Related: KFC Franchise

“We want to make people live in Darwen and shop here and, with the likes of KFC coming here, they will want to come back.

“We have got to make decisions that when shops close, do we want it to be another takeaway or would we like to have a restaurant like KFC?”

Source: The Bolton News

Xponential Fitness appoints Michael Abramson as chief operating officer

September 20, 2019

Global boutique fitness giant Xponential Fitness has appointed Michael Abramson, president of D1 Sports Training, as its chief operating officer.

Abramson will be tasked with spearheading the international expansion of Xponential’s eight boutique brands – Club Pilates, CycleBar, StretchLab, Row House, AKT, YogaSix, Pure Barre and Stride.

“We are pleased to welcome Michael to the Xponential team where his track record of delivering strong business results and operational management experience make him the right person to support Xponential Fitness’ future growth and strategic priorities,” said Anthony Geisler, founder and CEO.

Related: Fitness Franchises – Should You Buy a UK Fitness Franchise?

As president of D1 Sports Training, Abramson oversaw the company’s operations and strategic initiatives, in addition to the management of the company’s trademarks and corporate governance.

“Xponential Fitness is truly a disruptor in the fitness industry and I am excited to join at such a pivotal stage in the company’s growth,” said Abramson.

“I look forward to partnering with Anthony and the talented senior leadership team to help support the future development of this innovative, global business.”

Xponential Fitness was ranked in Fast Company’s annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019 within the wellness category.

Related: Fitness Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

Through its eight verticals, Xponential Fitness has sold more than 2,600 studio locations across the globe and recently signed a master franchise agreement for Saudi Arabia.

By Tom Walker

Source: Leisure Opportunities

F45 Training Cambridge Station to officially launch this Saturday

September 19, 2019

F45 Training, located at 60 Station Road, CB1, will be hosting an opening event from 11am to 3pm.

A new style of fitness training originating in Australia, F45 (the F stands for ‘functional’) is fitness training with a strong emphasis on team training, with 45-minute classes that deliver life-changing results.

The launch this weekend is to celebrate the opening and to welcome members who have already joined – and also anyone else who may be keen to learn more about F45.

F45 offers classes for all abilities and is currently the fastest growing fitness franchise in the world.

Related: Fitness Franchises – Should You Buy a UK Fitness Franchise?

With two trainers in every class and bespoke technology all based in CB1, F45 is ideal for those who commute, work or live in this rapidly expanding area.

The opening event will provide an opportunity to meet the team of trainers, see the studio, and to find out more about classes and trial offers.

There will also be food and drink, as well as a DJ to add to the party feel.

Related: Fitness Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

Sweaty Betty – a chain retailer specialising in women’s sport and exercise clothing – are also joining in the fun with a pop-up stand and will offer an exclusive discount on the day.

Anyone is welcome to drop in at any time between 11am and 3pm.

By Adrian Peel

Source: Cambridge Independent

Vodafone to open 24 new stores in franchise expansion

September 19, 2019

Vodafone plans to expand its retail presence with the opening of 24 new high street stores in premises that were previously vacant.

The Newbury-based operator is expanding its franchise programme, inviting local entrepreneurs to manage stores with no up-front costs involved. Franchisees will be provided with devices to sell and will earn commission on sales.

More than a third of Vodafone’s existing 400 stores are franchises, with 50 added this year alone. The first two stores to open through this expansion are in Morecambe, Lancashire, and St Austell, Cornwall.

Related: Business Opportunities UK – Should You Invest In a UK Business Opportunity?

Vodafone store

The expansion has two aims. The first is to strengthen Vodafone’s multi-channel approach by allowing customers who want in-person advice on a new contract or device to visit a physical location.

Although customers are able to research products and gain support online, Vodafone stores still attract 20 million visits a year and account for 70 per cent of pay-monthly sales.

Related: Business Opportunities – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

The second aim is to “bring life” to high streets across the UK following a wave of closures.

“As a business with its roots in the UK, we are keen to do what we can to help local communities, whether that is giving local entrepreneurs the opportunity to be their own boss of a retail store or extending our network to remote areas,” said Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffrey.

Related: Vodafone Franchise

“New services have helped us become the fastest growing home broadband provider this year and attract thousands of new mobile customers every week. With this momentum, we are looking to extend our high street presence so that we can provide face-to-face advice and support to even more customers.”

By Steve McCaskill

Source: Tech Radar

Yoga brand flexible for growth with new premises

September 18, 2019

The third franchise of Midlands-based Sandstone Yoga & Pilates has opened its doors in Bearwood, Sandwell, following funding from NatWest.

Entrepreneur and yoga instructor Lis Sheridan and her partner Kayley Hall have used a £35,000 funding package from NatWest to set up and fit out the third Sandstone Yoga & Pilates studio, which is located on Bearwood High Street.

Following a 10-week refurbishment programme, the former Natural Foods shop that had been empty for 18 months has been transformed into a yoga studio for up to 25 people, as well as two changing rooms and a reception area.

The studio offers yoga, meditation and breathing practices, as well as courses for trainee teachers and social events for the local community. Lis and Kayley will run the studio alongside a team of 10 self-employed teachers. Further instructors will be added as the business grows.

Related: Fitness Franchises – Should You Buy a UK Fitness Franchise?

Sandstone Yoga & Pilates was established by Michelle Nicklin in 2015 when, after practising yoga for 30 years, she saw the opportunity to build and grow a more professional brand, promoting the benefits of yoga to others. The brand currently has other studios in Sutton Coldfield and Aldridge, but Michelle plans to expand beyond the Midlands and across the UK.

Owner Lis Sheridan said: “I started yoga classes 10 years ago before deciding to train as a teacher myself. When I found out that Sandstone Yoga & Pilates was franchising, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to take yoga to the next level and gain independence in my career.

“The team at NatWest have helped me with budgeting and considering what was viable for my business and their funding and advice has been invaluable in helping me through the setup of my first business.”

Related: Fitness Franchises – Search Franchise Reviews Directory

Gemma Dixon, relationship manager at NatWest, said: “The Sandstone Yoga & Pilates brand has established itself as a key name in the Birmingham area and a strong franchise option. Right from our initial discussions with Lis, it was clear that she is passionate about yoga and the funding we have provided has enabled her to open her own franchise of a fantastic brand.”


Source: BQ Live