French retail brands step up international franchise development

The franchise industry has been active in France for over 50 years in various forms from brand, partnership and business format. Today, there are over 200 French retailers including luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Fauchon, Chanel and Dior.

French supermarket chains are also adopting a franchise development programme to expand throughout Europe and into new international territories. Carrefour now take substantial franchise exhibition space at events like Mapic and have a very well trained team capable of discussions at length with interested shopping mall developers and property partners.

Having already established a presence in many Eastern European countries, Asia, the Far East, the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America, these brands are committing substantial financial, as well as, management resources to ensure that they do truly become a local brand. They are also concentrating on a great deal of effort to ensure that they develop the various European markets to their full potential. Carrefour, for example, has almost 800 locations in France alone and plans to have a similar number over the next five years in other European markets. Spain has already accepted this brand and a further 20 new retail projects are planned.

Other brands that have been present at the Paris Franchise Expo for many years include Elephant Blue, which can now claim to be one of the largest car wash franchises in Europe with locations in 12 countries. Locations have also been opened in Morocco and other Middle East markets are currently being considered.

The flower retail brands of Monceau Fleurs and Rapid'Flore now operate under Group Monceau Fleurs with their third brand. The brands will be intending to continue their momentum opening in new markets wherever they see genuine potential.

Other retail franchise brands include Jean Louis David, which has over 1,000 salons across Europe with around 450 in France and over 300 in Italy. All of these companies are recognising the tremendous value that they have in their brand and by entering into franchise agreements with indigenous partners they can expect the brand uniformity to be maintained as well as having the right financial commitment from their country partners.

Furthermore, brands like Saphora and Galleries Lafayette are likely to make a substantial impact on the world franchising stage in due course.

Galleries Lafayette has recently established a presence in Dubai and plans have been announced for development into the Chinese and Indonesian markets. Rather than adopting the company owned store models in places like Bejing and Singapore, they are more likely to evaluate the benefits of genuine international business format franchising and receive the many advantages of having money invested by an indigenous partner, as well as all the other benefits that this particular expansion method offers.

Zannia Group is another brand to watch as it has achieved strong organic growth with brands stretching across children's fashion through to the adult fashion market.

To obtain a good overview of the French brands and what they have to offer, readers are recommended to attend the Paris Franchise Exhibition, which will be taking place from 20 to 23 March 2011.

Written by Professor Roy Seaman (pictured), CFE, Managing Director and co-founder of Franchise Development Services Ltd