3 Successful Franchises That Started Up During Lockdown

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If you thought that starting a successful franchise during lockdown would be an impossible mission, you’d be mistaken. In this article, we shine a spotlight on some franchisees that have done exactly that - and smashed it!


The COVID-19 crisis has caused unimaginable problems for individuals and businesses across the UK and the rest of the globe. So, you’d be forgiven for thinking that starting a business during this period of economic uncertainty wasn’t the best idea. However, franchising offers fantastic opportunities to start and grow your very own successful franchise even during precarious times like we are currently facing.

Data has shown that five online businesses were launched in the UK every day in April, which was a 60 percent increase on the same month last year (Startups.co.uk). However, it’s safe to say that not all sectors are the same, and some will thrive more than others at the moment. So, it’s important to do thorough research into the industry and whether it’s a viable business move at this point before making any decisions.



Most popular types of business to launch online during lockdown

Research has found the top businesses started while the UK was under lockdown restrictions. This data was collected by using customer enquires and internal data of new sites created between March 16 and June 16 (Web Eden).

  1. Independent food and drink delivery services
  2. Personal trainers
  3. Cleaning companies
  4. Personal blogs
  5. Crafting/gifts
  6. Tutoring
  7. Service/consulting businesses (e.g. marketing, accountants, PR, etc)

3 successful franchises that started up during the lockdown

Below we share the stories of three franchisees that started a successful franchise during or just after the lockdown. All of them are part of our franchise network too. To find out more about each opportunity, head over to their client pages.

1. Dream Doors

Dream Doors franchisee, Neil O’Boyle launched a showroom during lockdown that now turns over more than £200,000.

Neil, the owner of Dream Doors Gateshead and Sunderland, completed his initial training and only got to experience two weeks of normal trading before the COVID-19 restrictions were introduced.

Instead of sitting around waiting for lockdown to end, he decided to fit out his showrooms, hire full-time staff and organise socially distanced appointments with customers.

With a jam-packed diary, he has turned over more than £200,000 in the last three months as lockdown restrictions have gradually started to ease. He said:

It was quite a challenge, starting a business during lockdown.

I think we’re quite a niche market, but we’ve got customers who are able to spend their disposable income.

The lockdown meant lots of people were sat around looking at their kitchens and saying: ‘Let’s do something about this’.

Dream Doors began life in 1999 and adopted the franchise model in 2002. It has since expanded to encompass 75 franchise units and receives around 78 franchisee applications a month. The franchise is the UK’s largest kitchen renovations retailer and specialises in kitchen doors, worktops, sinks, and appliances.

  • Becoming a Dream Doors franchisee: The ideal Dream Doors franchisee is passionate about the industry and demonstrates excellent communication skills.
  • How much you need to invest: To become a franchisee, you'll need to raise around £55,000. Approximately 50 to 70 percent of this amount can be borrowed from a mainstream lender, and the rest must come from the franchisee's personal assets.
  • What you get for your investment: Every franchisee receives high-quality training and can utilise the excellent franchise support system.

2. Healthy Feet

In May, Healthy Feet welcomed Rose Sterling to its network. She qualified as a foot health practitioner in February and now operates in the Sutton Coldfield and Perry Bar area north of Birmingham.

Initially, she wasn’t able to spend much time with her clients. But she was very excited to be able to get back to work offering top-notch foot care services when lockdown restrictions were eased. She kept in touch with everyone through social media.

Healthy Feet provides a mobile foot clinic service for customers up and down the UK. It’s popular among customers with diabetes, arthritis, and mobility issues, as well as those who enjoy pampering treatments.

  • Becoming a Healthy Feet franchisee: It’s important to be a people-person and comfortable communicating with customers from all walks of life. Having a full UK driving licence is a must too.
  • How much you need to invest: For those unable to raise a large amount, the total investment to become a Healthy Feet franchisee is £6,995. So, it’s certainly a viable option for potential franchisees who don’t have lots of cash to invest.
  • What you get for your investment: The franchise provides its franchisees with a Foot Health Practitioner qualification to carry out their services. The majority of training is completed online, and the working hours are extremely flexible, perfect for those busy with a home life who are searching for greater earning potential.

3. Esquires Coffee

The food and beverage industry was one that was hit particularly hard as a result of the lockdown restrictions. However, it clearly hasn’t stopped coffee franchise Esquires Coffee from continuing its ambitious expansion plans.

On the 10th of August, a brand new Esquires Coffee opened its doors in Leicester. While the UK wasn’t under strict lockdown conditions at this time, life was, and still is, by no means ‘normal’. And, it’s a great example of franchising proving resilient in times of economic uncertainty.
The general manager, Ryan Taylor said:

We’re so excited to be able to open the new store as we look ahead to Leicester’s post-COVID recovery.

Esquires Coffee serves delicious food and drinks, but it’s also a business with high ethical standards, which should attract increasing numbers of consumers as time goes on. This franchise was founded in Canada in 1993 and came to the UK in 2000. Today, the internationally recognised brand has a network of more than 50 cafes in the UK and Ireland and sees a turnover of just under £9 billion.

  • Becoming an Esquires Coffee franchisee: When you become part of Esquires Coffee, you join a coffee shop franchise with a conscience. It works hard to preserve its “community ethos” and has been ranked as the UK’s second most ethical coffee company and the UK’s top coffee franchise (Elite Franchise).
  • How much you need to invest: Franchisees need to put £225,000 towards property agency fees, store design, and fit-out, furniture and equipment.
  • What you get for your investment: Esquires Coffee provides an excellent training scheme and supports all franchisees in site selection and procurement, store design, lease negotiation and marketing.


To start a successful franchise you need a purpose

If you do decide to launch a franchise during this period, it’s more important than ever that your business has a purpose. Like Tim Keaveney, co-founder of eco-cleaning startup Homethings, says:

You’re not only competing with other brands and products, but with people’s wants, needs and inboxes. Brands that stand for something will always have a place. The world is bonkers, which is why it’s now more critical than ever for us to do something that makes sense.

We suggest that you continue your reading with our other article about the top 10 low cost franchises to consider in 2020. You might also be interested in our top choices when it comes to recession-proof business sectors.

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