Get up and grow

Unlocking potential and avoiding pitfalls of crossing into new African territories was the focus of the third annual FNB Franchise Leadership Summit supported by Franchising Plus.

With South Africa’s GDP growth for 2014 expected to whimper in below 2% no one can deny that we’re facing tougher times. Consumers are looking for value while input costs are rising. This means that South African businesses, including franchisors, need to explore new ways to compete, maintain margins, innovate and grow. Yet, across our borders the picture is somewhat different. With appetising economic growth and pools of middle class consumers it’s not surprising that many franchisors are seeking to expand on the continent.

This is easier said than done and why we decided to focus this year’s FNB Franchise Leadership Summit on African expansion and growth strategies. Moving into new territories is not a new concept for many franchisors. South African franchisors pioneered African expansion before it become fashionable. We were privileged to host some of these franchise leaders as well as experts from the broader business community to explore the factors involved with growing an African franchise network at this year’s FNB Franchise Leadership Summit.

A highlight of the day’s programme was the frank keynote address by Spur Group CEO Pierre van Tonder. In his 32 years at the group (he joined as a junior store manager), van Tonder has been involved the company’s transformation from a family favourite chain to a highly diversified business. The company’s expansion drive into several countries in Africa and beyond – including the notoriously difficult Australia – has not been without school fees. One of his key messages was the importance of selecting the right franchisee to launch a new territory rather than being led by a willing but unsuitable franchisee. He also drummed home the need for constant innovation of processes to ensure that the formula remains profitable for franchisees.

Innovation was a golden thread throughout the summit –from adjusting ownership structures, adapting to meet foreign preferences or applying international trends or utilising the franchise concept in the NGO space. In line with this theme, some highlights included:

The irreverent Richard Mulholland on his new book Legacide: How legacy is the silent killer of innovative thinking,

Franchise industry veteran Ben Filmalter the founder of Mugg & Bean on franchise trends from the US and

Dr François Bonnici on the kick-off of world’s first Social Franchising Accelerator.

This is the third year that Franchising Plus has been involved the Franchise Leadership Summit. While it is a lot of hard work, listening to insights from some of the industry’s most respected players and networking with present, former and hopefully future clients makes it very worthwhile. With over 200 delegates attending, the dedication of industry stalwarts and FNB’s continued commitment to South African franchising, the Franchise Leadership Summit is set to remain a fixture on the annual industry calendar.

Another key note speaker was Connie Mashaba – Director: Black Like Me spoke on the entrepreneurial journey of the brand.

A Panel on the topic: Company owned, franchised or joint ventures: Which ownership models work best? included: Esna Coleyn – CEO of Imbalie Beauty, Alan Reeves – COO of Mica/DIY Depot, Nico Jacobs – Senior Operations Director of McDonald’s and Ari Katz – Founder of Boston College.

This year, the event is also going to be held in Cape Town on the 19th of November.  The Cape Town programme includes additional speakers being Ian Fuhr, CEO of Sorbet and Mark Farrelly, COO of Spur group.  To book a seat or for more information see or email

Franchising Plus