French Open: France’s Secret Love affair with Franchises

If you ask a Frenchman for his opinion on franchises and their effect on his beloved village boulangerie, the chances are the response will not be favourable. However research suggests that far from destroying the idyllic French way of life, more and more of France’s 65 million people are embracing franchising and what it represents. Gareth Samuel reports.

When Franchise Lawyer Jennifer Dolman noticed, on a business trip to Paris, that franchises in France were as common as cyclists in, well…Paris, she had stumbled across a trend that has continued to grow – France is now Europe’s largest franchise market according to the European Franchise Federation. “Not surprisingly, there are many McDonald’s dotted throughout Paris, even on the expensive Boulevard Saint-Germain, and there are also Subways, KFCs, Pizza Huts and Starbucks. As more and more Parisians are shortening their lunch breaks the fast food culture is becoming increasingly popular and is also economical, especially for the younger generation,” she writes in Financial Post.

A visit to a French Centre-Ville will often yield a kaleidoscope of imported US franchises – adapted to the traditional French architectural style of course. McDonald’s being the big spender in the French market – its beer and a burger meal option continues to delight traveling Brits – Lettings giant Century 21 is another franchise that has established a successful presence in French towns. What’s more, representing Britain, Millie’s Cookies has a number of outlets that are doing very well across the Channel, which is testament to the excellence of the business, considering the significance that the French place on quality desserts and pastries.

But what of the must-celebrated French way of life? According to an article recently published by the BBC, the French way of dining is changing and therefore quick service food and beverage franchises are becoming ever more prevalent. “About two billion sandwiches a year are sold in France, that means the French eat an average of 65 sandwiches per second,” explains leading food writer, Franck Pinay-Rabaroust. “These days, the notion that the French sit down to three-course lunches is a myth. Less than 15 per cent of meals served in France follow the traditional model of three courses.”

Indigenous franchise brands such as Delifrance are thriving because of the new way in which the French lifestyle is going. Businesses then that have been successful in the UK would be wise to look carefully at France as a natural progression for a thriving franchise.