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Why franchising is still a good idea for the modern South African entrepreneur
Why franchising is still a good idea for the modern South African entrepreneur

Why franchising is still a good idea for the modern South African entrepreneur


Issued by Story Book Communications on behalf of Fruit & Veg City - Aug 8th 2014, 15:19

While it is tough to make it as an entrepreneur, many South Africans can still benefit from the franchising model. So says Graeme Liebenberg, Fruit & Veg City’s Property and Business Development Manager.

“Franchising has helped many retailers to expand and has created major success for franchisees. Think of the fast food industry, as well as clothing, and supermarket chains - while it gives the entrepreneur a safe and established framework in which to operate, it works for the retailer too as it is a great way of creating brand awareness and reaching the target market”.

Food Lover’s Market, the leading fresh produce retailer and crown jewel of the Fruit & Veg City Holdings Group, is an example of a franchise system that works as it continues to show meteoric growth, having expanded its store compliment steadily over the past few years. From humble beginnings in 1993 with a store in Kenilworth, today Fruit & Veg City Holding’s has 122 Food Lover’s Market stores including Africa.

According to Liebenberg, the secret to the business’ success is that the Food Lover’s Market brand offers quality, range, value and a unique experience to consumers, as well as opportunities for their franchisees. He adds, “We create a fantastic consumer experience and a ‘theatre of food’ in our stores, which transforms a traditionally mundane practice like food shopping into something to look forward to.”

“Considering that people prefer to support brands that they trust, it is easier for entrepreneurs to tap into an established and popular business as there is already a solid consumer base,” continues Liebenberg.

When considering potential franchisees, Fruit & Veg City considers various factors such as financial eligibility and the location of the proposed franchise store. While not essential, a background in food retail, at a general management level and a ‘trader’ type background is also highly beneficial as we encourage entrepreneurial thinking,” suggests Liebenberg.

Location is paramount when determining the feasibility of a franchise as catering to the geographical needs of consumers is a pivotal part of the Food Lover’s Market business model. “Many of our competitors apply a ‘cookie cutter’ design to their new stores, which is great in maintaining a national uniform identity, but pointless if it’s not meeting the needs of the local community in which it resides.”

In catering for locals, Food Lover’s Market does not only depend on its knowledge of local consumer demand, but also takes its cue from international trends to offer consumers a more exciting shopping experience.

“We are a nimble company and are quick to implement new and interesting ideas we see internationally that we believe our customers would like,” says Liebenberg.

With 61% of the chain franchised and 39% corporate, Food Lover’s Market has a team of specialists to assure that each franchise is well equipped and of an excellent standard. The highly experienced team of Fruit & Veg City regional managers are constantly visiting and adding as much value to each store as is needed and constantly networking across the group in terms of ‘Best Practice’ and benchmarking to help each store increase efficiency and effectiveness.

What can be learned from the Food Lover’s Market franchising model is that it is vital to design your store in a manner that will suite - and be relevant to - the demographic in which it is located; have a departmental team ready to assist the new franchisee; and maintain a fresh, unique experience for your consumers.

Liebenberg, along with his colleague Mike Coppin, is part of a two-man team that is responsible for expanding the company through the franchise model. Recently Liebenberg added one more title to his already impressive resume as he was appointed to the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) board of directors.

Commenting on his appointment, Liebenberg remarked that it is a big honour as all the other nominees were of an exceptionally high calibre. “I am looking forward to a productive tenure on the board, driving the strategy for the SACSC.”  

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