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Should you franchise your online operation overseas?

Franchise partnerships are a popular way to enter overseas markets – but should that agreement include them running your website?

It’s a divisive issue, and one that there is no clear consensus on among the fashion retailers and brands that I have spoken to. Of course overseas franchise operators offer invaluable market knowledge and access to local retail infrastructures, whether that be stores, concessions or even logistics, so it’s little surprise they are a popular and sensible choice for the growing number of UK companies increasing their international footprint.

But online poses a dilemma. Is the franchise partner able to make your brand’s vision a reality online? Will it tally-up with your UK site? Or could a brand or retailer that has multiple franchisee agreements across the globe even end up with a series of websites that all convey a different brand message?

Important considerations and all areas that could potentially damage your brand’s identity and put you on the back foot in the very market that you’re seeking to crack. So it might be wiser instead to opt to work more closely with your franchise operator to ensure consistency, whilst keeping the two business streams separate.

Of course there is a strong argument to the contrary, and opinion was split among attendees at our International roundtable earlier this year, but whether it’s retaining direct control or prescribing certain guidelines that franchise partners must follow, there are issues to be addressed.

If you want to read more then we’ll be exploring both sides of the debate in greater depth in our August 31 issue, and please do get in touch to let us know what you think.

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