Azeem Arshad Baguette Express
Paul Stafford

Member Article

Franchising spotlight: master franchising

Global Entrepreneurship Week seems like a suitable time to take a look at some of the possibilities that exist in franchising above and beyond owning a single franchised business. If you’ve got real ambition for more, there’s the option of taking on multiple territories or units; you may even consider opening a second business with a different franchise system altogether. And of course a good franchise network is always looking for its franchisees to get involved in the future shape of the company, whether through forums and committees or by taking on area manager-esque roles to mentor some of the network’s newer or less successful members.

Then there’s also the option to become a master franchisee. This involves taking on the responsibility of the franchisor for a specific and defined area, and awarding franchises out to new business owners – like being a kind of sub-franchisor for the brand. Within that area, the master franchisee is responsible for recruiting, training and supporting all franchisees, and in return receives usually around 50% of the initial franchise fees and monthly royalties paid to the parent company.

It’s an arrangement most commonly used by companies looking to start franchising in a new country, where engaging a local person with intimidate knowledge of that country’s laws, culture and business background holds several economic and operational advantages over trying to do everything themselves. However, it’s also seen within defined areas of the UK, and one such person carving out a hugely successful and growing business is Azeem Arshad of Baguette Express, who is the master franchisee for the north east and Carlisle region.

Azeem is in his mid-twenties; typical of the growing trend of young entrepreneurs looking to make a name for himself in the business world through franchising. Originally from Hamilton, Glasgow, he holds a law degree and a Masters in real estate.

It was while staying in Edinburgh that he saw the rapid growth of Baguette Express in the city and decided he wanted to get involved. Rather than pursuing his law career, he opened his own franchised Baguette Express store in Glasgow, and then a second. Within six months, he had become the master franchisee for the north east of England for a rapidly-expanding company.

Now, he’s responsible for stores across the region, with branches in Durham, Washington, Sunderland and several in Newcastle including locations in the Metrocentre, Eldon Square bus station and St Mary’s Place. With these businesses already employing over 60 people in the area, Azeem is hoping to have 30 branches open by 2015 which would create several hundred new jobs.

Azeem says of his rapid success: “I’ve been delighted with the popularity of Baguette Express since moving to the north east, and I’m especially pleased that we’ve been able to open in such a prime location in Newcastle city centre.

“In the food sector, it really is all about location, location, location. It’s easy to see a busy location and get carried away, but you need to look at the exact trends. Are people in eating mode? Are people stopping off there or simply using it as a thoroughfare? If there are no food competitors nearby, there’s probably a reason. That’s why joining a franchise has been so beneficial, as we’ve been able to take the advice of industry experts at each stage of the process.

“The opening of our Metrocentre branch is probably the single biggest achievement for us in the past 12 months, as we had waited a long time for an ideal location in the QUBE to become available. We were delighted to secure that unit, and it’s been doing brilliantly.”

As for 2013 and beyond, Azeem’s keen to balance the growth of his business empire with making sure quality is never sacrificed: “The biggest focus for us will be maintaining the stores, and ensuring customers continue choosing Baguette Express as their lunch destination. It’s going to be a busy year!”

For further information on all aspects of franchising, visit the British Franchise Association website:

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Paul Stafford .

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