Monopoly – Buy Sell Rent

13 Businesses You Didn't Know Were Franchises

There are some businesses where it’s pretty obvious that they’re part of a franchise – McDonalds, Subway, Pizza Hut and Starbucks to name a few. However, there are also some unexpected ones that may not be the first to come to mind when you hear the word ‘franchise’. There are more of these unknown franchises out there than you might first assume.

Coffee Republic

So, we know Costa Coffee and Starbucks are pretty popular, but what about Coffee Republic? It always seems to be left of the high street coffee shop crowd, however despite being a bit of an underdog it is much of a franchise as its competitors.

Founded in 1995, Coffee Republic’s bars are both franchised and company owned, and they can be found all over the country and in the Channel Islands. In addition, they also have 18 international locations in places as far as Romania, Kuwait and Jordan.

Cash Converters

Personal loans, second hand store and pawnbrokers Cash Converters originated in Perth, Australia in 1984. They have a mix of both corporately owned stores and franchised locations in 21 countries all over the world – 200 of which are in the UK alone. They have additional stores in places which include South Africa, Spain, Canada and the United States.


Austrian jeweller Swarovski have been around for over 110 years and started franchising in 1977. The company has over 26,000 employees and their products are sold in over 170 countries, so it’s understandable that they’d want to franchise. They have a total of around 2,680 stores worldwide, 1,380 of which are operated by Swarovski themselves and the remaining 1,300 are operated by franchisees.


Levi Strauss has been credited with making the first blue jean in 1873, and since then the company has continued to reinvent denim throughout the generations – our wardrobes past and present have a lot to thank Levis for. They had their take on the ‘mom’ jean and khakis to name a couple. Overtime, they’ve added more variety to their line.

The Levis as we know it was established in 1953, and franchising with them began just over 10 years later in 1965.

The Body Shop

When you walk past The Body Shop on the high street, you may not think that your local store is one of the brand’s network of 1,900 franchised stores. Truth is, it’s likely that it could be as they have been franchising since 1978, two years after they were founded. In addition, the ethically-sourced beauty brand have over 3,000 retail locations in 63 countries with about 30 million visits per year.

Stage Coach Performing Arts

Stage Coach is one of the most well-known performing arts schools in the UK, with the majority of their 680 centres being based right here – there’s even one in Chester. 

It’s easy to assume these schools are just one large chain of performing arts centres if you didn’t know better, but they are in fact also part of a franchise. Franchisees are able to set up their own Stagecoach performing arts school, and act as a ‘principal’ in their centre. Like most franchises, these ‘principles’ hire their own staff and must maintain high standards.


American budget hotel chain Travelodge was founded in 1939 and has obtained a number of franchisees since they began franchising in 1966. 

Most of us are already familiar with the Travelodge brand with there being several of their 478 hotels dotted throughout the country, however a number of those are indeed likely to be owned by franchisees.

Toni & Guy

With a massive 475 salons across 48 countries, Toni & Guy is without a doubt one of the most recognisable hair salons in the world. Despite this, not many people know it’s actually a franchise now too.

The now world-famous brand had humble beginnings, starting with just one salon in 1963 in London. Since then, it has grown to become the world-renowned brand we know today with an impressive catalogue of over 100 awards and is an incredibly popular franchise in the beauty industry.


The world famous Swedish furniture retailer operates entirely under a franchise agreement (with the exception of one store in the Netherlands). IKEA currently has 380 stores worldwide, and there is no doubt that their ever growing popularity means they will continue to expand. 

In total, they have had around 783 million store visits and 2.1 billion visits to their website in the past year.

Hilton Franchise

Did you know you could become a member of one of the most famous hotel chains in the world? Many of us are already familiar with Hilton Hotels, but not as aware that they were part of a much bigger franchise.

Hilton have been franchising for 52 years, starting in 1965 in the United States. There are now a total of 530 Hilton Hotels across 78 countries in 6 continents, and these hotels have a reputation for being incredibly elegant and upmarket.

The Hilton Franchise also have a number of other names under their belt, including Conrad Hotels, Doubletree and the Hilton Garden Inn.

So, if you have a significantly large amount of money to spare, then you can become a part of the world of hospitality, too.


Selling more than 50 million pairs of shoes every year, Clarks is one of the most well-known footwear retail companies in the country, and has a rich history which goes back nearly two centuries. They have been franchising for the past 27 years.


These little convenience stores are everywhere and it feels like they have been around for ever but we bet you didn’t know they are a franchise as well. Spar was founded in the Netherlands in 1932 and started franchising the same year it was established, officially making its way to the UK in 1957. 

All Spar stores are owned and run by locals, making them tailored specifically for serving the local community and their needs – there are over 12,322 stores worldwide, and 2,400 are based right here in the UK.

Harry Ramsdens

Harry Ramsdens is now a world-famous chain of fish and chip shops, but had humble beginnings with the business being started in a wooden hut in West Yorkshire over 85 years ago. Eventually, they were able to franchise and the company now offer both local takeaway franchising and restaurant franchising. However, these fish’n’chips are quite expensive, so be aware!

There are also a couple of other companies who aren’t part of a franchise, but you might think they are…

Here are a list of businesses that you probably think are franchises, but aren’t…


It’s the biggest supermarket chain in the UK and yet, not a franchise. If Spar can do it, why doesn’t Tesco?

All of Tesco’s stores are owned by the Tesco brand and run by employees who are employed by them.

While yes, the company do own a number of OneStop stores throughout England and Wales, these stores are operated as a separate subsidiary and are not part of a Tesco franchise.


Established in 1865, this British born-and-bred retailer might seem like a franchise but in fact isn’t. Specialising in shoe repairs, key cutting and engraving, Timpson has 1,325 company owned stores, so it’s easy to see why some might think they are a franchise!


Greggs is an interesting one. There seems to be one of these famous bakeries no matter where in the country you go (with 1500 of them nationwide it’s no surprise!), however they are not a franchise in the way that individuals are able to franchise with them. Instead, franchising with them is limited at the moment to large businesses only – for example, garage chains.

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