Sainsbury’s is to extend supply agreements with garden centre chain Dobbies, highlighting the increased demand for convenience franchising.

The partnership began last year and saw Sainsbury’s ‘food halls’ installed in 44 Dobbies sites.

A Dobbies spokesperson told betterRetailing: “The first foodhall opened at our flagship Edinburgh store at the end of July. There are more planned and to be announced. This wholesale partnership with Sainsbury’s brings a range of high-quality essential food and grocery products to the stores.

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“Shoppers can enjoy a range which includes more than 3,000 products, giving customers a choice of food to take home including ambient, chilled, fresh and frozen produce, as well as other grocery, household and toiletry products.”

Commercial property expert Christie & Co had previously worked with Dobbies on different projects.

Although the property firm had no involvement in the Sainsbury’s partnership, its retail managing director, Steve Rodell, told betterRetailing that, as part of wider analysis of the market, the new relationship represents an increase in franchise deals over the past year.

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“A lot of deals this year have also involved the takeover of a Co-op or Nisa store,” he said.

“We’ve also worked with Blakemore on similar agreements. You’ve then got Eurogarages and Sainsbury’s and Morrisons with MPK [forecourt group]. I’m sure these will roll out further as operators are keen to get more brands on site.”

Last month, wholesaler Blakemore, who operates stores under the Spar brand, launched its latest store recruitment campaign. The company is seeking stores under its new commissioned operator model launched last year.

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Working similarly to a franchise, Blakemore either owns or pays the lease of the store property, allowing the retailer to focus more on managing it.

Areas in the UK the company is targeting include Chester, Sheffield, Stoke, Grimsby, Nottingham, Leicester, Birmingham, Aberstwyth, Gloucester, Swansea, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, London, Brighton, Cambridge, Norwich and Ipswich.

Formats include stores in forecourts, neighbourhoods, transport hubs and city centres.

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Blakemore trade partners sales director Louis Drake told betterRetailing: “Blakemore is seeking to acquire sites across our entire region with no specific geographical preference.

“The acquisitions will support the development of our managed business, Blakemore Retail, our Spar independent retailer estate and the new commissioned operator trading model launched before Christmas.

“Each of the businesses has a different requirement, meaning we are interested in talking to retailers who operate businesses from 800sq ft to 3,000sq ft.

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