Jun 01, 2020

Top 10 Australian Franchises

Baker's Delight
Skinny's Grill
Bizclik Editor
7 min
Top 10 Australian Franchises

Franchises, particularly restaurants, are very popular in Australia: the Franchise Council of Australia estimates that there are more franchise systems per capita than any other country, with 1,160 franchise brands and over 79,000 franchise units for a population of 23 million. While you can walk down a busy street in downtown Brisbane or Sydney and find a McDonald's, Subway, or other American staple the top-performing franchises are those with native origins as 86 percent of the most successful franchises are Australian. Here are the top 10 most promising franchises from down under.

1. Poolwerx

Founded in the Brisbane area with over 24 years of brand history, Poolwerx is Australia's most successful pool cleaning franchise. With over 100 Australian franchises made up of almost 100 retail stores and over 300 mobile service vans, Poolwerx also has plans to open 300 stores in the Sunbelt region of America. Founder John O'Brien has commented on this massive opportunity: “The US pool industry is a disorganised market. It’s where Australia was 10 to 15 years ago,” he says. “Generally, the market in America is a single guy with a pole and a truck. It’s not time-efficient or reliable.” Poolwerx employs a modern automatic cleaning system that is checked once a month by a technician, taking the hassle out of pool maintenance.

2. Battery World

Celebrating 20 years: Battery World Australia has 94 stores nationally and has launched a new era of store innovation and expansion (planning to open over 10 new stores per year for the next 5 years across Australia). In 2016, Battery World has extended the national coverage with the addition of new stores in Pakenham (VIC), Southbank (VIC), Parafield (SA), Cardiff (NSW), Kirrawee (NSW) and soon to open Waurn Ponds (VIC) and Chatswood (NSW) and Rocklea (QLD). Rocklea will be the first in the country to trial a drive through service while Southbank became the first CBD flagship store with plans to open CBD stores across the country.

3. Foodco

The Foodco Group owns the popular cafe franchises Muffin Break, Dreamy Donuts, and Jamaica Blue, and the franchisor is best known for its training programs and superior employee organisation with accolades from the Franchise Counsel of Australia. The Counsel's general manager Kym de Britt stated: “They have an excellent set-up for trainees. They're well organised and have good, working systems," having cited that typically franchisees are prone to disorganisation. So franchisees receive two weeks of intense training and so do all employees ranging from counter people to office managers. 128 Jamaica Blue stores have been opened in southeast Asia as well as 275 Muffin Break outlets across Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and India.

4. Coffee Club

The Coffee Club is proudly Australia’s largest home-grown cafe franchise business with close to 300 stores in Australia and turnover exceeding $370 million. It primarily offers three types of dining experiences:

1.    CBR – a fully licensed, extended hour café/bar/restaurant with full table service and an extended menu with chef’s choice options

2.    Club – a café store which focuses on light meals and snacks with counter service typically located in high street or enclosed shopping centre locations  

3.    Kiosk – a counter service, open air shopping centre option.

Other recent innovative dining experiences include a drive thru store and shipping container concepts.

The Coffee Club is now owned by Minor DKL Food Group; a leading Australian retail food brand franchisor with a combined 450 stores in 10 countries and turnover circa $530M. Minor DKL Food Group is the franchisor and intellectual property owner of The Coffee Club. Including international markets, The Coffee Club has over 400 stores across Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Maldives, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, serving more than 40 million cups of coffee every year and employing more than 6,000 team members.

5. Mad Mex

Voted "Best Mexican in Australia" in the Lifestyle Channel’s “I Love Food Awards” Mad Mex Fresh Mexican Grill is a staple in Australian fast-casual franchises. Since Mexican food and fast-casual chains are two of the fastest-growing retail categories in Australia, a Mad Mex franchise is a wise investment. With a trend towards healthier fare that fast-casual restaurants are more likely to offer than traditional Mexican restaurants, founder Clovis Young told Hospitality Magazine: “We probably helped to change the perception of Mexican food from greasy, unhealthy party food that you’d only eat once a quarter if you couldn’t avoid it, to something you would happily have three times a week and feel good about because it is that much healthier. The quality is there.” An estimated 10 stores open every year, with its most aggressive growth being 35 stores in a 16-month period. The founders also chalk their success up to not having to answer to shareholders, as Mad Mex is privately owned by two people.

6. Gutter-Vac

Gutter-Vac is Australia's premier gutter cleaning service with 45 locations - it aims to make homeowners' lives easier by offering gutter cleaning and other home services like power-washing with their own proprietary equipment and patented ThunderVac Technology Process. While growth has not been as rapid as other franchise sectors due to Australia's fairly mild climate, Gutter-Vac has managed to position itself as the nation's top gutter cleaning service when there wasn't even a "gutter cleaning" category in the Australian Yellow Pages and no such business existed before. The franchise is looking to expand into the UK and Europe where there is more demand for gutter cleaning services in their deciduous climates.

7. Gelatissimo

Gelatissimo, a hand-crafted gelato franchise found throughout Australia as well as Southern Asia and the Middle East, is a promising investment as joint executives Marco and Dominic Lopresti have come up with innovative ways to keep product quality up and logistics costs down. Logistics are always more complicated when dealing with a temperature-sensitive product like fresh gelato: major ice cream makers use factories and cold transport systems that rely on preservatives, but a fresh product that customers are willing to pay more for is harder to transport. The Lopresti brothers fashioned a kit production system employing raw ingredients and gelato machines to cut down on waste and give franchisees an edge over other gelato shops. What better way to do so than have fresh gelato made in-house?

8. Roll'd

Since 80% of Australia's population lives in the country's five largest cities, it's no surprise that street food franchises have become a viable investment. Roll'd specialises in traditional hawker-style Vietnamese street cart fare like rice paper rolls, pho, Vietnamese salads and banh mi sandwiches. The founder, Bao Hoang, was looking for an alternative to sushi for a meal out and decided that his mum's traditional Vietnamese recipes were just what the public was looking for. He wound up being right as Roll'd went from 15 new stores in 2013 to 28 in 2014, and expects to have 100 by 2016. Hoang says, "People were clearly looking for an alternative [to sushi and burgers], and with ours still being a fresh, fast and healthy option, we are very well received."

9. Skinny's Grill

Skinny's Grill is a hot new franchise that is looking to corner the market on healthy fast food, particularly for customers following low carb diets. The franchise also offers gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options as these four groups of customers often have their needs and wants ignored by other food chains. CEO and founder James McGovern has recognised the demand for healthy prepared food and realises the huge upside potential. “We’re targeting a mass market,” says McGovern. “Young families, mums and bubs, and the health (conscious) market as well.” Skinny's Grill owns the intellectual property for its low-carb recipes which will make it harder for competitors to attempt replicating them, and also offers fund assistance to new franchisees. 20 new franchises are expected to open in New South Wales alone in the next year.

10. Baker's Delight

Baker's Delight was established in Melbourne in 1980 and is a household name in Australia with its signature Cheesymite Scroll. The bakery became a chain in 1988 when the founders came to own 15 bakeries by then and decided to expand into other parts of Australia as well as New Zealand and Canada. Thousands of Cheesymite Scrolls later, Baker's Delight has won Food Retailer of the Year as well as the Australian Franchise System of the Year award several times and was named one of the top 10 retailers in the Asia Pacific Top 500 Retailers awards. There are over 600 stores worldwide and a Baker's Delight franchise carries the brand recognition and excellent baked goods that will ensure a profitable investment.

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Read the June 2016 issue of Business Review Australia and Asia magazine

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