Cheesecake Factory in the UK – Do They Franchise?

01/12/2018 08:00 | Food franchises

cheesecake factory uk

The Cheesecake Factory is a big name on the US fast-food restaurant scene, but it is yet to make its way to UK shores. However, for some years, there have been rumours that the company’s first restaurant will soon arrive in London. Here, we take a look at whether The Cheesecake Factory offers franchising opportunities and what that means for its plans for expansion in the UK.

What is The Cheesecake Factory?

The Cheesecake Factory is a restaurant chain that, as the name suggests, specialises in cheesecakes. However, over the years, The Cheesecake Factory menu has expanded to encompass a wide range of main dishes, appetisers, and sides, as well as desserts.

Currently, the chain consists of approximately 194 restaurants, spread over many international markets. The business is based primarily in the USA, where it also operates restaurants under two different brands, the Grand Lux Café and the RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen. The company also stocks a number of other food retailers with desserts, including the cafes in the popular Barnes & Noble bookstores.

What’s the history of The Cheesecake Factory?

The Cheesecake Factory was established in 1972 as a wholesale bakery that provided local restaurants with cheesecakes and other desserts. Over the next six years, it grew in size and scope until the business was able to expand by opening a small sandwich restaurant in the Beverly Hills area of Los Angeles.

From these humble beginnings, The Cheesecake Factory boomed, opening two further locations in Marina del Rey and Redondo Beach, before looking even further afield. Restaurants soon followed in Washington D.C. and Florida. As The Cheesecake Factory brand developed, the opportunity to expand internationally arose and the business leapt at the chance. Its first location outside of the US market opened in the UAE, at the Dubai Mall, in 2012.

What makes The Cheesecake Factory special?

While The Cheesecake Factory is most famous for its enormous range of cheesecakes – it serves around 34 different types – it has also developed an extensive array of other dishes too. In fact, the size of The Cheesecake Factory’s menu has become something of a USP and an unusual word-of-mouth marketing success.

The restaurant has a reputation in the US for having the longest menu of any fast food chain in the country. This sheer amount of choice has resulted in various memes and viral jokes making their way around social media, giving the chain a significant amount of media exposure in the process.

Is there a Cheesecake Factory in the UK?

Currently, there are no Cheesecake Factory locations in the UK. However, there have been rumours that the chain was set to open an outlet in London. As early as 2012, industry insiders began suggesting that The Cheesecake Factory had purchased the lease on a property on Fulham Broadway. Though the rumours re-emerged routinely over the years, the opening of a UK-based branch of the business has yet to be officially confirmed by The Cheesecake Factory management. Despite this, it appears that the company does harbour ambitions to open a UK business when the right opportunity arises.

Cheesecake Factory UK location

Were The Cheesecake Factory to open a UK store, the logical location would be the UK capital. Though London is an intensely competitive market, there is considerable opportunity for a restaurant chain that can generate a buzz around its brand. Historically, US imports have performed particularly well in the UK. Though the fast food landscape has changed considerably over the last few years, it would appear that The Cheesecake Factory is well placed to build a successful business in London, as long as it makes a concerted effort to adapt to the new markets and customer demands.

Having launched a trial in London, it would then make financial sense to open other restaurants in key locations across the capital, before turning its attention to other key cities. After London, the nationwide expansion would likely involve restaurants in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, and Glasgow.

Cheesecake Factory UK franchise

All Cheesecake Factory restaurants in the US and Canada are company owned and operated. This means that there are no franchising opportunities in either of these two markets. However, international expansion has been carried out in many different ways. The two principal means of expansion have been corporate ownership and franchise licensing arrangements.

These agreements allow a single company to operate The Cheesecake Factory franchise in that particular territory, much like a master franchising agreement. Such a system has been employed in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. It is highly likely that it would also be used to facilitate expansion into the UK. This means that UK investors would have the opportunity to bid for the role of the master franchisor or to apply to become an area developer and open individual restaurants on behalf of the master franchisor.

Will The Cheesecake Factory move into the UK market?

While there is no guarantee that The Cheesecake Factory will move into the UK market, it seems highly likely that it will attempt to do so soon. However, for this to happen, a number of stars will have to align. For instance, the company will have to find the ideal master franchisor to operate the UK side of the business and will need to be sure that their flagship store has the best chance of success. While earlier rumours suggested that the first restaurant could be located on Fulham Broadway, this was over six years ago, and it is possible that a new location will be required.

What are the alternatives to The Cheesecake Factory?

If you’re not willing to wait for The Cheesecake Factory to arrive in London, you may want to consider an alternative. Fortunately, there are plenty of options. Businesses such as Cinnabon, Creppeaffaire, and Amorino all specialise in distinct and in-demand desserts and are actively looking for new franchisees. If you want a successful US import, established brands like Baskin Robbins also have investment opportunities to take advantage of.

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