The UK is a nation with a sweet tooth, and despite economic challenges, the future for the confectionary industry is looking sweeter.
In 2016 UK consumer spending on confectionary was approximately £11.9 billion and
IBISWorld predicts that revenue is set to increase in 2017-18 after five consecutive years of decline. And Food Manufacture UK estimates that confectionary sales are due to grow by 8.6% by 2019.
Given that the UK’s appetite for confectionery seems unstoppable (despite health warnings and concerns about the adverse effects of sugar) investing in a confectionery franchise could be a safe bet.
However, you should also carefully consider what skill set is needed for this type of business, and what your potential franchise is offering?
Are you good at working with children?
It’s worth considering how you would react to a group of wide-eyed and excitable seven-year olds clamoring for your attention and desperate to spend their weekly pocket money on their favourite sweets.
If this prospect fills you with dread, then you may need to rethink your plans to buy a sweet shop franchise.
Your busiest times will probably be Saturday mornings and the daily post-school rush – so, you’ll need to be calm, warm, patient and friendly.
Are you passionate about the community?
Sweet shops have traditionally been well-loved community hubs and you may find that you have a large number of local regulars. This is likely to be a mix of children, parents, retirees and sugar loving adults.
This type of business thrives on a good rapport with customers, and this means taking an active interest in their lives and dedicating an extra minute or two to chat. The chances are that you too will benefit from feeling part of the community.
Would you like to earn and support a charity?
There are many low-risk, low-cost, confectionery franchises out there that have the added ‘feel good factor’ of charity work.
They all work in the same way, the franchisee sources sales locations for the charity’s sweet boxes (other shops, cafes, pubs, work places etc.) and manages distribution to the network of hosts they have created.
Whether they are offices, shops, fire-stations, hotels or chemists – the sweets will be on sale in the name and brand of the chosen charity (the franchisor donates a large sum of their profits to the cause) and the individual franchisees success is dependent on how many boxes are sold.
This business model works because businesses are more likely to buy the boxes when they are contributing to a good cause - as well as providing a treat for their staff.
Will you cope with the average sweet shop day?
Working in a sweet shop means being on your feet all day, managing stock and dealing with short bursts of manic activity.
During holidays, after school, and at weekends you may well be rushed off your feet, grabbing jars from all corners of your shop, but at other times you may be faced with your own company and hours of inactivity. Ask yourself if you can weather the changes in pace.
How good is your math?
A quarter of sour apples, 2 gob-stoppers, a sherbet dip-dab, a candy necklace and a handful of 5p sweets are presented in one eager customer’s paper bag, and the queue is growing.
You are going to need some sharp mental arithmetic skills and a good memory to get these items totted-up quickly and serve your customers in good time.
Are you creative?
If you have creative flair, and would like to own a franchise business offering something slightly more unique and original, then there are some alternative confectionery franchises that you ought to consider.
Does running a pick and mix delivery service take your fancy? Or running a traditional, vintage style ‘Olde Sweet Shoppe’?
There are also shops, and online stores, catering to the more refined tastes, who dish out unique, handmade sweets for adult consumption.
You may also like the idea of traveling around, being independent, and delivering and servicing sweet vending machines.
Do you enjoy social activities?
Another industry trend is confectionary parties. These may involve making sweets, making chocolate, decorating sweet jars and playing games. These can be a hit for kids’ birthdays, and hen-do groups.
As they became more of a hit in the community, they began to run children’s parties. Their party festivities include decorating jars and filling them with sweets from the shop, and then continuing with more craft, games and snacks. Would this type of franchise appeal to you?
After considering whether you could realistically run a confectionary shop, or whether a different kind of business might suit you better, you must still evaluate exactly what the franchise you are considering is offering. Will you be getting what you want from your chosen franchise?
Are you happy with the existing branding of the franchise?
When you purchase a franchise, you will also be inheriting their branding.
Many confectionery franchises are adopting a retro image and may have a strong theme – from signage, to display, to packaging.
Does the brand style fitting with your own taste and ambitions?
You will have to consider whether you are happy to promote the brand’s creative vision – or whether you might prefer to make your own mark by buying an independent shop and developing a style of your own.
Visit an established franchise store so you know exactly how they run and look. Also, discuss directly with the franchise how they would expect your store to look and be. Ultimately the confectionary brand is important so you should be able to get behind it.
What does the franchise offer?
Many sweet franchises offer a stress-free package. Many offer full support, from site selection, to shop design. They fit the shelving and display units, and provide initial stock. They may also provide full training, uniforms, marketing advice and a website.
But all franchises differ and offer varying levels of support. If you prefer more autonomy, and more freedom to make your own business launch decisions, then this may suit you better.
It is worth finding out exactly what your chosen franchise can offer, and then deciding if this is the right level of support for you.
Have you made an informed decision?
Once you have considered all of the above you can then come to an informed decision about whether a confectionary business is right for you, and work out what type of confectionary business or franchise would most suit you, and your ambitions.