Whether it’s an automotive company, a fast-food establishment, or a chain of pubs, we’re here with Motability dealers, Lookers, who offering a variety of servicing offers, to look at some of the UK’s top franchises and learn how they got there and what we can learn from them!

Nowadays, many business hopefuls are using franchising as their route to the market. It’s no surprise that franchises are popping up everywhere! Currently, there are over 120 industries that have franchised companies, with the franchisee normally receiving help with their site selection and development support, operating manuals, brand standards, quality control, training and business advisory support from the franchisor.


Key business features

One key business feature of Wetherspoon is being positioned in key travel locations, such as train stations and airports. This is highlighted throughout the UK, as they can currently be found in Aberdeen, Birmingham International, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Liverpool John Lennon, Heathrow, Gatwick, Glasgow and Stansted airports, and near train stations around London, Leeds, Liverpool and Glasgow.

As well as the location being a key aspect, the chain also include a traditional offering of daily meal deals, which are a great hit with the public! They include the initial Curry Club and Steak Club, Chicken Club, Fish Friday and Sunday Brunch and offer a drink alongside them.

They currently are involved in a biannual beer festival with 60 beers on tap, highlighting that Wetherspoon is a great advocate for embracing the festival spirit.


Initially named Martin’s Free House, the chain changed its name to Wetherspoon a year after it’s opening in North London in 1979. The first Wetherspoon was opened from a former bookmakers’ store!

At first, the chains only expanded throughout North London. The company opened its first pub which had a no-smoking bar in 1991 in North Finchley, before moving more into Central London, with their first pub in Liverpool Street Station. The following year, JD Wetherspoon plc, opened their 50th pub in Heathrow airport!

By 1994, the chain had reached an impressive 100 pubs and venturing from London to as far north as the Midlands. The business kept expanding and moving into new territory throughout the 90s, with further establishments opened in Manchester, Wales and Scotland. 1998 saw the 300th pub open and its rapid expansion saw them reach 500 pubs being open by 2001. The 600-mark was reached in 2002 as the breakfast revolution got underway as all pubs opened six days a week to serve the first meal of the day. The 700th pub was launched in 2008, with the 800th following in 2011 and 900th in 2013.

Nowadays, the company employs over 35,000 staff, and owns 948 pubs and hotels.

What can businesses learn from Wetherspoon?

Wetherspoon’s have succeeded most by being flexible and adapting to their environment, offering a central location and a variety of exciting deals.


Key business features

Regardless of how many stores there now is nationwide, Greggs likes to maintain its local routes, being rooted in the centre of a community. This means that, while there is the popular national range, regional favourites can be found in their stores depending on where you are.


John Gregg began a delivery service in the 1930’s, delivering eggs and yeast on his pushbike to families in Newcastle upon Tyne. It was after having this delivery service that helped local families bake their own bread for over 10 years.

This led to John Gregg opening a small bakery on Gosforth High Street in 1951, which consisted of a single shop with a bakery at the rear, allowing Greggs to begin baking quality bread with flour that was milled from specially selected wheat for that distinctive Greggs taste and texture.

In 1964 following his fathers passing, it was Ian Gregg that took over the reins of the family business. The company also started to grow in size by buying regional bakery retailers across the United Kingdom and, by the 1970s, they had shops in Scotland, Yorkshire and the North West. Under Ian’s leadership, Greggs developed a good reputation for selling products which were quality and of great value.

When there were more than 260 shops in four areas of the country. The company’s expansion was well underway by 1984 and for the first time ever, Greggs was on the Stock Exchange – opening shops in the Midlands, Wales and North London.

During the noughties, Greggs continued its rapid growth. By investing in a large Technical Centre, the company was able to focus on developing an array of new recipes while improving old favourites.

Lookers Group


John Looker initially rose to success when the business’ first major acquisition took place in the 60’s following the groups move to Yorkshire. Before this however, John Looker initially sold bicycles, parts, accessories, and the odd used car when he founded the company in Manchester in 1908. By 1910, the business had forged with a garage owner in the centre of Manchester. Primarily a Ford dealer until the First World War, the company was thriving so much that the garage had to be rebuilt in 1911 to accommodate all the business that it had generated.

The group continued its growth by acquiring a number of garages in Lancashire and Cheshire and was appointed a distributor of Austin motor vehicles in 1918. John Looker retired in 1929, but the business didn’t falter. During the Second World War the Austin factory was committed to the war effort as the country fought.

By 1973, their headquarters had moved from Hardman Street to Chester Road – their current base today. At the same time, the company became a listed company on the London Stock Exchange. Lookers is now one of the top three motor vehicle retailers in the UK, representing 32 manufacturers and selling car types at 150 franchised dealerships.

Key business features

One of the key features of Lookers’ as a business is to value their employees – this has been highlighted by the fact that the Group received top employer UK 2017 and 2018 accreditations, recognising that you must look after your own to be a success. 

The Group understood the need to keep the local feel of the businesses while softly implementing their own touch by acquiring several local businesses, including Benfield.

By providing you with a ready-made business model and allowing you to keep your skills sharp while joining an already thriving business, you may feel as though you have a greater chance of success. While these are just three examples from a huge pool of successful franchises, it’s clear that the franchise world is going to continue growing, regardless of the industry you choose. So, budding business owners out there, make sure you research any possible franchises that could be of interest to you before jumping in feet first with your idea!