Sign and display franchise Fastsigns has expanded into Europe, taking on a master franchisee as it looks to expand its European network.
The US-headquartered group, which earlier this year indicated its plans for expansion in the UK, has signed up Malta-based master franchisee Famalco Group, and is aiming to roll out 16 more locations from there – two in Malta, six in Greece and eight in Italy – as a minimum target over the next eight to 10 years.
“Our criteria is to develop one or two Fastsigns, prove they are very capable at being successful and then sub-franchise,” Fastsigns chief executive Catherine Monson told PrintWeek.
“Once they have demonstrated with their own Fastsigns, and we’ve seen they are making strong sales gains and have appropriate profitability and good margins, then we know they are capable of teaching sub-franchisees how to run their businesses successfully.”
After searching for several months, Fastsigns was impressed with Famalco’s previous track record in being a master franchisee for the likes of Domino’s Pizza and Harley Davidson. It will open in April 2018 and Monson did not discount the possibility of at least one other master franchisee being enlisted before then.
“The partner is the priority,” she added.
“Finding the right company that has franchising experience or extensive sign and printing experience is more important than saying ‘We’re going to open in Germany, France or Belgium’.”
With 661 locations in eight countries, Fastsigns is aiming for European sales in 2018 incorporating the UK of €13.6m (£12m).
Operated directly by Fastsigns under UK managing director John Davies, the UK operation, which accounts for around £9m of Fastsign’s overall sales, is set to open its 23rd franchise, in Canterbury, next week, with four to six more slated to open in 2018. Its Hammersmith operation recently became the first Fastsigns UK centre to pick up an Idealliance qualification and its Watford branch has just expanded to a larger premises.
Monson finished: “We’re very excited to expand into three additional countries. We’re very excited about continued progress here in the UK and we think that progress begets more progress, momentum begets more momentum, so we’re quite excited about future growth throughout Europe."
Fastsigns will be holding its annual UK convention from 1 to 2 December in Rushton Hall, Kettering, where it will announce the winners of its annual awards and offer seminars and networking opportunities.
Davies said that the convention would commemorate what has been a “dynamic year” for the Fastsigns UK network.