Top 15 Food Franchises in the UK

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Top food franchises

Thinking about investing in a food franchise? There are hundreds out there ‒ but these are the biggest ones in the industry.


If you’re passionate about food and want to become your own boss with less of the risk associated with launching an independent business, franchising could be for you. The food franchise sector is enormous, and it can be easy to get lost in the sea of investment opportunities out there. 

We’ve narrowed down some of the top food franchises operating in the UK in terms of their number of outlets. Keep reading to find out which businesses in the food service industry have the biggest network of branches. 

Why start a food franchise business?

  • Franchises and food are a great match ‒ Businesses in the food service industry are naturally well-suited to the franchise model, so there are plenty of opportunities to choose from. 
  • People love eating out ‒ Despite the best efforts of celebrity chefs, people are increasingly turning to restaurants and takeaway outlets come dinnertime. These days, chains and delivery services have made things so easy, and people are regularly tempted to splash out on their favourite meals. 
  • Some opportunities are incredibly lucrative ‒ A fair proportion of the biggest franchises in existence belong to the food industry. If you invest in one, you’ll get access to an internationally recognised brand identity, an established customer base and expert business support, so there’s great potential for growth. 

Top food franchises in the UK

The food franchise industry is huge, so we’ve split this article into categories, with some of our top national and international businesses offering UK investment opportunities in each sub-sector. We’ve also provided a few details about each franchise to top the list. 


>> Read more:


Top sit-down restaurant franchises

  1. Bella Italia 
  2. Cafe Rouge 
  3. Las Iguanas

 

Bella Italia is a British high street staple. With a recognisable image and more than 40 years of industry experience, it’s also hugely popular among franchisees.

 

  • Becoming a Bella Italia franchisee: To be a successful candidate, you’ll need to have a good network of contacts, a strong track record in the food industry and the motivation to push your business forward.
  • How much you need to invest: Investors must be able to put £700,000 into their new business.
  • What you get for your investment: Franchisees will get access to an operations portal and a comprehensive training package to make sure their businesses run efficiently. You’ll also be given a dedicated support team to help you throughout your franchising journey.

Top mobile / pop-up franchises

  1. Wiltshire Farm Foods
  2. Really Awesome Coffee 
  3. Coffee Blue

Wiltshire Farm Foods cooks and delivers delicious ready meals so its customers can maintain their independence and enjoy great food.

  • Becoming a Wiltshire Farm Foods franchisee: The franchise is looking for entrepreneurs with leadership skills and a growth mindset. As the brand is based on ‘good, old-fashioned service’, and many people are loyal customers for this reason, you’ll need to be passionate about maintaining the franchise’s positive reputation. 
  • How much you need to invest: Anyone with access to at least £150,000 in liquid assets is eligible to apply for a Wiltshire Farm Foods franchise unit.
  • What you get for your investment: You’ll benefit from a seven-year contract with no renewal fees, as well as two weeks of IT support and an extensive marketing campaign. You’ll also get a dedicated business manager and the chance to attend the annual conference and quarterly meetings with other franchise partners. 

Top fast food / takeaway franchises

  1. Subway
  2. Auntie Anne’s 
  3. Thai Express 

 

Subway is the UK’s biggest sandwich retailer in terms of sales - and one of the most recognisable brands in the world. It has more than 44,000 outlets across 112 countries, despite being founded in 1965 with a start-up fund of just $1,000. Subway has been through half a century of radical change and enormous growth to emerge as one of the biggest chains in the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry.

  • Becoming a Subway franchisee: You’ll need market expertise, good time management and communication skills, as well as a passion for the Subway brand. 
  • How much you need to invest: The minimum investment sits at £85,570.
  • What you get for your investment: All franchisees have the chance to take part in a two-week training course in one of Subway’s many centres across the globe. You’ll also get ongoing support in the form of e-courses and newsletters. 

Top international cuisine restaurants

  1. Thai Express
  2. Bella Italia 
  3. WokToWalk

 

Thai Express is a quick-service restaurant using fresh ingredients to create delicious, authentic Thai flavours. Customers love the brand for its traditional recipes served up at record speed.

 

  • Becoming a Thai Express franchisee: If you’re passionate about business and have excellent customer service skills, Thai Express encourages you to apply. While you don’t need any previous experience in the restaurant industry, it might help your application. 
  • How much you need to invest: You need to be able to invest a minimum of £50,000 and a total of £150,000.
  • What you get for your investment: You’ll take part in an advanced training programme to get to grips with everything from food preparation to bookkeeping.

Top specialist / luxury food franchises

  1. Cavavin 
  2. Signorini Tartufi 
  3. Veeno 

 

As a Cavavin franchisee, you’ll select a range of products from a catalogue of more than 2,000 wines and spirits and 200 international winemakers and sell them to customers. You’ll also host wine tasting experiences.

 

  • Becoming a CAVAVIN franchisee: You can choose to run your business as a single unit owner/operator or be ambitious and become a multi-unit franchisee, employing staff to oversee your locations. 
  • How much you need to invest: You’ll need to put at least £40,000 towards your business.
  • What you get for your investment: Each franchisee gets three weeks of training, covering everything from product range and food pairings to tasting sessions. You’ll also get to visit CAVAVIN’s headquarters in La Baule, France. At the start of your contract, Cavavin helps with your store fit-out and supplier introductions. 

 

Top dessert franchises

  1. Dunkin’ Donuts
  2. Auntie Anne’s 
  3. Cinnabon 

 

Dunkin’ Donuts serves over five million customers a day and sells over 30 cups of coffee per second. The business was launched in 1950 by Bill Rosenburg and, since then, it’s established more than 11,000 stores across 31 countries.

 

  • Becoming a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee: You’ll need to have previous experience in the food and drink industry and be prepared to open at least 20 restaurants in a specified time period.
  • How much you need to invest: You’ll need around £1.2 million in liquid assets, as well as a net worth of £2.3 million to join Dunkin’ Donuts as a franchisee. 
  • What you get for your investment: Once you’re on board, you’ll gain access to the franchise’s internationally recognisable branding and world-class tools and resources. Plus, you’ll be part of a business with 70 years of industry experience and 120 years of combined franchising expertise. 

 


Top food franchises overall

  1. Subway 
  2. Dunkin’ Donuts
  3. Auntie Anne’s

 

With a chain of over 44,000 franchise units in operation, Subway is the biggest food franchise in our network. 

 

Become a food franchise investor 

 

Browse our current food franchise opportunities or take a look at the restaurant businesses looking for savvy investors to find your ideal opportunity.  

>> Read more articles on the Food and Beverage sector

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