Overseas convenience chains look to expand into growing UK market

It has been rumoured that 7-Eleven is eyeing a return to the UK following a near-30-year absence

Industry experts have confirmed overseas convenience chains are targeting potential expansion into the UK convenience market.

The move will offer independent retailers an opportunity to take on stores with professional support and standards.

Convenience analyst Scott Annan told Better Retailing that three international chains were examining an entry into the UK, to take advantage of the growth within the convenience sector.

Annan declined to provide the names of these companies.

Trademark submissions seen by Better Retailing show that Canadian chain Cirkle K had registered a trademark for “consumer loyalty programmes for convenience stores, petrol stations and electric charging stations” in June last year.

Similarly, Japanese convenience brand Lawson had also registered a Class 35 trademark in October 2022, which includes “retail or wholesale services for food, beverages, confectionery, tobacco” and other staple convenience products.

Meanwhile, it has also been rumoured that 7-Eleven is also eyeing a return to the UK following a near-30-year absence.

Annan added that any international franchisee entering the UK would provide an opportunity for independent retailers seeking a third-party help manage the majority of their business.

Franchise expert Richard Pakey, managing director of Lime Licensing Group, told Better Retailing that US, Canadian and Australian chains were particularly interested in UK expansion due to existing familiarity with their brands among potential customers.

He added: “International franchising is a highly regulated sector, whereas the UK is not as stringent.

“I’m not saying the UK isn’t regulated at all, but it’s much easier for overseas chains to launch here. For example, the US has a lot of legal loops that you have to jump through with regards to areas such as food hygiene and advertising.

“The risk of going to prison if you make the wrong moves or claims is a lot higher.”

Annan explained that stringent regulation overseas would help retailers create customer confidence in the UK.

He said: “Franchising in a country like the US is onerous, but it doesn’t mean they will drop their standards if they come to the UK. They would apply the same rigidity and strict rules with which they have managed their international branches across the UK.”

Meanwhile, retail agents from commercial property company Christie & Co confirmed to Better Retailing they had seen a growing interest in convenience franchising across the UK, with “strong queries” from a number of potential buyers.

Read more retail industry news for independent convenience retailers


This article doesn't have any comments yet, be the first!

Become a member to have your say