Southern Co-op strengthens its franchising operation

The retailer has opened its 50th Welcome store and joined a second franchise body

Independent retail society Southern Co-operative has become the only convenience store chain to be a member of two national franchise bodies – as well as opening its 50th franchise store under the Welcome fascia.

The co-operative’s franchise division has been steadily growing over the last few years, and it recently became the only convenience store chain member of the Quality Franchise Association.

Southern is also the only convenience store chain that is a full member of the British Franchise Association (bfa) after completing accreditation in 2020.

Joel Bissitt, CEO at Quality Franchise Association, said: “We are delighted to welcome Southern Co-op into full membership. They provide such a valuable service to local communities and have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic.

“Their values including that of community are very much aligned with ours and we look forward to working with the team in the coming years.”

Southern-currently partners with 24 franchisees that operate 51 stores from Devon to Kent and into central London.

Franchise business manager Mike Fitton said: “Every person who is part of our franchise family is passionate about what they do and it shows. Our franchisees enjoy giving back to their local communities.

“By developing strong partnerships within our Welcome family, our stores and teams have gone from strength to strength with positive like for like increases across all departments. We are all looking forward to the future as convenience stores continue to be relied on locally.”

The co-op says its franchise team offers retailers extensive personalised support with access to specialists in merchandising, artwork, planning, space and sales analysis.

As well as access to major brands and Co-op own-label products, franchisees are encouraged to offer local produce.

Pip Wilkins, CEO of the bfa, said: “Full membership of the bfa recognises a franchisors commitment to, and value of, ethical franchising practices. Southern Co-op has undergone rigorous checks against an extensive set of criteria to become a member and is testament to their unwavering commitment to best practice and their long-term investment in ethical franchising.”

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