Q&A: Does Wetherspoon Franchise in the UK?

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Love it or loathe it, you’ve probably heard of Wetherspoon. In this article, we find out more about the pub and whether it offers franchising opportunities for interested investors.

Whether you’re after a cheap pint or a full English, JD Wetherspoon’s pubs offer something to suit every taste. Commonly referred to by its fans as ‘Spoons’, the brand is famous for its unusual, patterned carpets and unconventional yet charismatic premises. There are around 900 Wetherspoons dotted around the UK, the biggest of which is the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, Kent. But we’d like to find out more about Wetherspoon’s franchise opportunities.

History of Wetherspoon

JD Wetherspoon plc, also known as ‘Wetherspoon’ – or, colloquially, ‘Wetherspoons’ – was founded by Tim Martin in 1979 when he opened the first pub in North London. Initially, Wetherspoons were all located in North London and the headquarters were above The Dog in Archway.

But, since then, the brand has expanded across the UK to comprise a network of 900 pubs, including the Lloyds No.1 bar chain and a number of Wetherspoon hotels. There are also over 35,000 employees pulling pints and putting smiles on customers’ faces across the country, making Wetherspoon one of the biggest pub brands in the UK. In 2018, Wetherspoon’s net income amounted to over £66 million.

One of the reasons why so many customers are attracted to the brand is because of its innovative promotional campaigns, offering different food deals throughout the week. There’s Steak Club on Tuesday, Chicken Club on Wednesday, Curry Club on Thursday, Fish Friday and Sunday Brunch. With such enticing deals on offer, regulars keep coming back for more.

Tim noticed that more and more consumers are interested in eating breakfast in their local restaurants. To capitalise on this, in 2005, he decided to open every pub at 9am. Five years later, the pubs started to open at 7am in order to keep up with customer demand. That means Wetherspoon’s pubs are catering to customers all day long, maximising their income potential.

Does Wetherspoon franchise?

It’s clear to see that this is a very successful, established business with a tried and tested business model. However, although investors commonly research Wetherspoon’s franchise opportunities, they do not currently exist. All the pub locations have their own name alongside the Wetherspoon brand name, but they’re not owned by individual investors.

How to get involved with Wetherspoon

If you are keen to be part of the brand, you could opt to work towards becoming a pub manager. To get there, you will probably need to join Weatherspoon as a shift or kitchen manager. The company believes that pub managers should know the brand inside out, and a great way to achieve the right level of expertise is to work your way up the employment ladder.

Fortunately, Wetherspoon is known for providing excellent opportunities for staff to progress through the ranks. In fact, the pub brand has been named in the Top Employer UK ranking for 16 consecutive years. So, once you’ve made it as a pub manager, there’s scope to become an area manager or take on a senior management role at the business’ head office.

A profitable sector The pub industry generates more than £21 billion per year.

Wetherspoon’s founder, Tim Martin is dedicated to staff training and development. For this reason, the turnover of bar managers in Wetherspoons is approximately 10 percent, which is much lower than the industry standard. As he invests heavily in training and staff development, he gets loyal, highly competent employees in return. This has a knock-on effect on staff performance, customer satisfaction and profits.

The pub market in the UK

It goes without saying that Brits love heading to their local pub for a drink with friends. That’s why the pub industry makes £21 billion in revenue per year and comprises more than 38,000 establishments. What’s more, over 422,000 people work in the sector, which has grown by 1.4 percent annually since 2014.

While there have been reports that pubs and bars are declining in number as coffee shops and restaurants become more prevalent, the popularity of pubs remains high. So, there’s no reason why you couldn’t start a profitable business in the sector. Take a look below at some of our pub and bar franchise opportunities in the UK.

Similar franchise opportunities

Veeno and Lateo Boutique offer two unique alternatives to starting a Wetherspoon branch. Read on to find out more.


Rather than building on the UK’s traditional drinking establishments, this franchise takes inspiration from European drinking cultures. Veeno states that its business concept focuses on creating a ‘gateway to Italian culture’ and has spent the last few years setting up Italian-style ‘wine cafes’ around the country. So far, this has been incredibly successful, allowing the business to grow by 800 percent in the last three years.

Veeno’s offering consists of a diverse range of European wines sourced from the finest family vineyard of its founder in Sicily, Italy. On top of the extensive wine selection, there are also paninis, salads and cured meats to tempt your taste buds. Founded in 2013 in Manchester, there are now 20 bars spread across the UK.

  • Becoming a Veeno franchisee: Although the business has spread quickly across the UK, there are still plenty of opportunities to open new bars and Veeno hopes to expand abroad in the coming years. With plans to open new establishments in Ireland, Scandinavia and the Far East, it’s clear that the Veeno franchise does not suffer from a lack of vision or determination. The ideal franchisee is someone who is passionate about the brand and keen to fuel its growth and success.
  • How much you need to invest: In order to invest, interested franchisees require a minimum investment of £75,000 and a total investment of £100,000.
  • What you get for your investment: Because Veeno is keen to take advantage of the most talented entrepreneurs out there, it opens its franchise opportunity up to those who don’t have a lot of experience. So, you’ll be able to enrol onto a comprehensive training scheme. And, as an exciting part of the programme, you’ll be taken to the family vineyard to wise up on the roots of the company and learn more about its level of expertise.

Lateo Boutique

Lateo Boutique offers high-end and artisan spirits, ales and coffee. Aiming to provide a space where people can sample quality alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, rather than where people go to get drunk, Lateo Boutique boasts 60 different types of gin and hosts a selection of rare beverages that are difficult to come by elsewhere.

This bar franchise is a drinks outlet of many guises - a bar by night but a café by day, where friends can meet in a relaxed atmosphere. As a result, it holds a number of different licences, including Lateo Bistro Bar, Lateo Café and Lateo VIP. Lateo Boutique can even cater for weddings and events, setting up a temporary bar to add a touch of elegance to your special day.

  • Becoming a Lateo Boutique franchisee: Looking to build on its successful franchise model, Lateo Boutique is actively looking for franchisees. Motivated and presentable applicants with an interest in retail and hospitality are particularly encouraged to join.
  • How much you need to invest: With a minimum investment of just £10,000 and a total investment of £12,000, this bar franchise is eminently affordable, and can generate a revenue of £200,000 after two years, offering good value for money.
  • What you get for your investment: After investing, franchisees will gain access to the brand, licence support and marketing, but securing a site, infrastructure and stock will be further expenses. Franchisees will also benefit from initial and ongoing training, as well other forms of support like event days and seminars.

Start your own pub or bar franchise unit

We’ve highlighted two great pub franchise opportunities here, but if you want to browse other options, just click here.

>> Read more articles on the Pub & Bar sector

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