Q&A: Does Denny's Franchise in the UK?

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If you’ve got family in the states or have been there on holiday, you might have heard of Denny’s. But can we get our fast food fix there on this side of the pond? Today we find out whether it’s possible to start a Denny’s franchise in the UK.

Denny’s is a US-based restaurant chain that utilises nostalgic diner décor and markets itself as an always-open, traditional American diner. It has adopted the franchise model in many of its territories and has grown to become one of the US’ best-loved brands. One of Denny’s key selling points is the fact that it rarely closes unless required to do so by law. This 24-hour approach has made it popular amongst those who keep unusual working hours and has earned Denny’s a reputation for reliability. But can you operate a Denny’s franchise in the UK?

Denny’s now operates in all 50 states in the US, as well as at least 11 other countries. Out of a total of around 1,700 restaurants, there are approximately 1,600 in the US. Outside of the US, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico are Denny's biggest markets, with roughly 90 restaurants shared between these three countries. It’s one of the United States’ most reputable fast food chains and a popular choice of restaurant amongst those who appreciate good food and the company’s all-night service. However, Denny’s is yet to have a big impact on the UK market…

Does Denny’s franchise in the UK?

Denny’s adopted the franchise model in 1963 and is now structured so that nearly all of its restaurants are franchised. This has allowed it to roll out the brand across an enormous geographic area and ensured that it’s become one of the most recognisable brands in the US. Franchising has also played an important role in the company’s international expansion.

Currently, Denny’s is looking for new franchisees to launch locations throughout the US. Available territories can be found in both the east and west of the country, though the east is considered far less developed and there is greater opportunity in this region. Internationally, Denny’s is looking to expand into the UK, mainland Europe, China, Southeast Asia, Australia, and South America.

History of Denny’s

Harold Butler and Richard Jezak established Denny’s in 1953. At first, it operated under the name Danny's Donuts and was based out of Lakewood, California. By 1956 the business had grown into a six-store chain and decided to shift focus.

  • Rather than selling doughnuts, it became a 24-hour café that sold a wide range of foods. The business became Denny's in 1959, when Butler decided that a name change was necessary to avoid competition with another coffee and doughnuts store.
  • Over the next two decades, Denny's expanded at a remarkable rate. By '81, the business operated more than 1,000 restaurants spread across all 50 states, and in '87, Trans World Corporation (TW Corporation) acquired the brand.
  • In turn, TW Corporation was acquired by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, who sold off many of TW Corporations non-core business acquisitions. This resulted in Denny’s becoming the corporation’s primary concern and the organisation renaming itself Denny’s Corporation.
  • Over the last decade, Denny’s has attempted aggressive international expansion and has entered into franchising agreements with a number of prestigious franchise developers.

Denny's provided the combination that every franchise owner looks for: a simple, flexible operating system and a global brand with worldwide reach. That's why my franchises have succeeded in two countries, and why I believe there's even greater potential for international growth. - Roberto Larach,4 restaurants and 2 in development in Honduras & Guatemala

Starting a Denny’s franchise unit

In 2017, Denny’s struck a deal with UK-based Denny’s Magic Diners to bring 10 locations to the country over a period of several years. This marked the first move into British and European markets and is an experiment that will be watched closely to see whether the US diner experience can translate to the UK market. Keep up to date with the current locations here.

Read more:

Becoming a Denny’s franchisee

The recruitment process is as follows:

  1. Application and Disclosure Process - This is when you’ll receive detailed information about the Denny’s Area License opportunity.
  2. Business Plan - You’ll develop a business plan for market development.
  3. Discovery Day - You’ll meet with the Denny’s franchise team in South Carolina.
  4. Finalise Licensing agreement - Pay development fee and sign the contract.

It’s important that you have experience as a major brand restaurant developer and have access to supply chain resources. You should also be able to develop multiple sites and have access to appropriate real estate. Click here to find out more and apply.

I love the local feel of the Denny's brand. Our locations are integral parts of their communities. No matter where we open, Denny's becomes a social hub, a place where memories are made and great experiences are shared amongst friends and family. - Bobby Naiker, 50 restaurants and 4 in development in Canada

How much you need to invest

You need to have between $5-10 million liquid capital to be able to invest in a Denny’s franchise. The initial investment will be between $700,000 and $2.4 million.

What you get for your investment

You’ll be guided through the entirety of the franchising process. This includes three months of management training, four weeks of pre-opening training and two weeks post opening support. You’ll take part in online training and have access to operations manuals. You can also make the most of a marketing plan and have access to all of its advertising collateral. Operations and manual support are ongoing and doesn’t stop once you’re up, running and thriving.

Start a Denny’s franchise

If you’re a fast-food fanatic and want to bring the delicious comfort food of Denny’s to more of the UK, you can with franchising. We also have a number of fast food opportunites on our books, which can browse here. Also check out:

>> Read more articles on the Restaurant sector

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