Thai Takeaways - Are There Any Franchises?

15/01/2019 08:00 | Food franchises

Thai takeaway franchises

Delicious, exotic, and incredibly healthy – it’s no surprise that Thai food has become a firm favourite in the UK. Its combination of fresh ingredients, spices and that kick you get from a tasty blend of lemongrass and chilli makes Thai food one of the fastest growing cuisines in the UK.

The rise of Pan-Asian cuisine means that alongside Indian and Chinese, there’s now a growing market for Thai food. A survey carried out by Asian grocery chain Wing Yip found that the majority of people (around 75%) ate their food in a restaurant, and nearly 40% now eat Thai food regularly, with Thai green curry making the top three Asian dishes as a firm favourite among UK diners.

Another reason cited for Asian (and in particular Thai) cuisine becoming so popular is that many more people have now had the chance to travel to the Far East and experience the culture first-hand. On returning to the UK, it’s common for those travellers to seek out a taste of the East, but less common for them to attempt cooking Thai food for themselves. This is where Thai takeaway food fills a gap, offering franchisees the chance to move into a highly profitable and easily marketable sector.

There are currently over 2,000 Thai restaurants in the UK, and that number is relatively stable, indicating that Thai food is set firmly in the nation’s menu for the foreseeable future.

Restaurant or takeaway?

While the statistics show that the majority of Thai food is eaten in a restaurant setting, the emergence of apps like Just Eat means that it’s now possible for customers to send out for takeaway Thai food deliveries as easily as they do with any other type of cuisine. This has opened up the market for Thai takeaway businesses to move in on customers that would otherwise choose Chinese or Indian food as their preference.

Is a Thai food takeaway business the right choice?

While there are plenty of Chinese and Indian takeaway franchises on offer, Thai food franchises are thinner on the ground. That means if you do spot an opportunity, it can be a very profitable and smart move to jump in quickly, as there is limited competition around at the moment. Because of the limited number of franchises on offer your chances of establishing a business with very little local rivalry means that you’ll have a wider captive market of eager customers.

Setting up a Thai takeaway delivery franchise

You’ll need a real passion for food and a good chunk of investment money if you want to take on a Thai takeaway delivery franchise. Not only will you need somewhere to cook and package the food (which will require investment in a commercial kitchen), but you’ll need delivery drivers, vehicles, and marketing money. Expect to put in an initial investment of around £100,000 for a franchise like Wok&Go, with a further £100,000 additional investment and franchise fees of £15,000.
The takeaway service is usually part of a ‘static’ restaurant set-up, so it’s rare you’ll find an opportunity to take on a takeaway-only franchise. Your primary business will be the static restaurant, but a takeaway business on the side can bring in much-needed revenue. Multiple revenue streams are potentially the best way to make any food franchise succeed – it’s rare that a business gets by on restaurant custom alone, for example.

The pros and cons of food franchises

Food franchises often have quite a high initial investment level, but if you pick a franchise that is unique, has a strong brand identity and is already part of a successful model, then there’s a good chance it will be profitable within a couple of years. Food franchises that incorporate multiple revenue streams are the most successful, although with a takeaway franchise you will need to factor in the additional expense of delivery costs (and the additional extras such as business insurance and wages that come with that particular revenue stream).

What’s on offer?

Asian food franchises are popular, with some like Wok&Go in very high demand, despite their very high initial buy-in fee. Again, this is a multi-stream revenue generator, using a combination of an eat-in, takeaway and delivery business model to maximise profits.
Opportunities don’t come up very often, but if you do see the chance to buy into a franchise of the wonderfully named ‘Giggling Squid’ then do so. This highly successful Thai restaurant chain currently has 30 outlets across the UK and is one of the best-known Thai chains in the country.

Thai Express is a Quick Service Restaurant model which offers a takeaway service but tends to steer clear of the delivery option. Bear in mind that with the advent of food apps like Just Eat, customers are expecting food outlets to be more flexible when it comes to delivering takeaway, rather than just providing either a static restaurant or take-out service.

Camile is worth keeping an eye out for, which specialises in delivery services rather than static restaurant revenues. It’s a booming franchise, but opportunities are rare and highly prized so you’ll need a good level of investment and be an attractive potential franchisee to have a chance of buying into this particularly successful operation.

What a good Thai food franchise needs to succeed

You don’t necessarily need to be a great chef to run a successful Thai food takeaway. What you do need, though, is a good head for business, drive, ambition, and a ton of determination. Running a food operation is probably one of the most labour-intensive of all franchises: the hours are long, the work is hard, and the competition is stiff. Even if you’re the only Thai takeaway service for miles, you’re still competing with every other food outlet in your area, from the local burger bar to a specialist Sushi delivery company.


You’ll need to think outside the box a little, and not purely depend on a single revenue stream. Diversity is crucial, as your franchise provider will explain.

Conclusion

Asian food is hugely popular, and at the top of the list (thanks to the chance for many people to experience the culture first-hand) is Thai food. Spicy, delicious and nutritious, it’s become one of the nation’s favourite cuisines for its light, delicate flavours and, in some cases, health benefits.

With the advent of takeaway apps such as Just Eat, takeaway services are now dominating the market, so any food franchise that wants to succeed has to have various revenue streams, including static restaurants and takeaway or delivery services. Thai food lends itself particularly well to this model, and despite a high initial investment, Thai food franchises can be extremely profitable.


Food franchises tend to be the most expensive initially, but if run successfully can generate good returns within two to five years. They are labour-intensive and do suffer if there is a particular proliferation of other food outlets in the area. However, Thai food is regarded as a stable part of UK cuisine now, rather than a ‘fad’, so the long-term prospects for a Thai takeaway delivery franchise are good.

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