Franchise businesses in the UK are celebrating record highs in turnover and full-time employment, according to the recent Natwest British Franchise Association (bfa) Franchise Survey.

The figures reveal how the franchise sector has bucked the economic downward trend and shown a 20% growth compared to a 2.5% contraction in the overall economy since the country went into recession in 2008.

The survey also highlighted that an overwhelming 92% of Franchise Owners reported profitability and 80% of businesses with less than two years experience in the industry are already turning a profit.

And the results reinforce the fact that the franchise sector is thriving and combined with today’s announcement that the Bank of England has raised the UK economic growth forecast, the signs auger well for its continued success.

The Franchise Survey calculated that the franchise sector contributed around £13.7bn to the economy during 2013, which equates to just less than one per cent of UK GDP.

Over a quarter of a million full-time jobs were also recorded for the first time in UK franchise history out of total employment in excess of 560,000, an increase of 20% over the last five years.

Brian Smart, director general of the bfa, commented: “UK franchising offers thousands of people each year the opportunity to take on their own sustainable business, in turn creating employment for many thousands more – a success that has continued through hard economic times while other parts of the economy have struggled.

“The exceptional performance of the franchise sector since 2008 augurs well as the UK returns to business growth and prosperity. There are now nearly 1,000 franchise brands operating in this country across multiple business sectors, offering plentiful opportunities for those undertaking the necessary research and due diligence to join the franchise success story.”

Graeme Jones, head of franchising at NatWest, added: “Franchising in the UK continues to deliver real benefits for the economy and the growth achieved over the past five years is a standout achievement.

“Optimism remains high, underpinned by profitable trading and opportunities both here and overseas. In the thirty plus years that NatWest has had a specialist franchise team, this is the most robust set of results from our annual survey and we are delighted to continue our support for the sector.”

The franchise sector is also flourishing on a regional level with some businesses bucking economic trends areas worst hit by economic difficulties during the past five years. Every part of England and Wales recorded growth in franchise sector turnover. Wales benefited from a rise of 33%, the North West enjoyed an increase of 27% the north east went up by 14%. The south east continues to lead the way with remarkable growth of 42% since 2008.

Now in its 29th year, the Natwest bfa Franchise Survey monitors the performance, attitudes and opinions of the UK franchise sector to compile an accurate portrayal of its contribution to the British economy. It has become the benchmark view on the UK franchise industry and the 2014 edition demonstrates the robustness of the sector and the business model.

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