Global Expansion Is Getting “Easier”
Back in December 2013, Brian Ward, our Founding Editor Emeritus, wrote a very insightful report about the challenges domestic chains face in opening units outside the U.S. The ease and difficulty of the endeavor depended hugely on how developed the foreign country was, the sophistication of the infrastructure, the connections and resources available to help the chains navigate cultural, logistical and legal requirements, and more. It made sense to me that the majority of chains showing strong international growth are long-established giants—many have global experience that goes back 40 or 50 years. More and more often these days, however, I see reports—especially in our own news—of really young chains opening units overseas, or I’m reading about seasoned U.S. brands taking the plunge to cross the pond for the first time. Recent dabblers, with just one or a few units, include Chick-fil-A, Rock Wood Fired Kitchen, STK, Del Taco, Raising Cane’s, Roy’s, Dave & Busters, Blaze Pizza, BurgerFi, Firehouse Subs and bd’s Mongolian Grill. What’s changed in three and a half years to make opening abroad more reachable and the effort worth it? A lot, according to “Global Growth Going Strong” on page 36. Technology for one is making it easier to research other countries and the information is easier to verify. Communication is immediate and more effective. And we’re seeing the rise in some countries of master franchisees with proven track records who are operating a whole portfolio of concepts. Sign with them and they take care of the in-the-trenches work it takes to actually build and open a unit in a foreign land. Eventually, one of our article sources says, U.S. chains may simply license the brand and leave the actual opening and operation to capable, vetted, in-country partners.