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More new business ideas at GFL2004
FRANCHISING continues to be a popular ticket to business expansion, as high exhibition and visitor numbers at this year's Global Franchising and Licensing (GFL) show in Singapore revealed.
Organised jointly by the Franchising & Licensing Association (FLA) and Singapore Exhibition Services (SES) from September 15-17 at Suntec City Convention Centre, the show attracted 8,021visitors, with a 44% increase in overseas visitors from more than 30 countries. Exhibitor numbers at GFL2004 also grew by 62% compared to the 2002 show.
Ben Wong, project director for lifestyle events, SES, said the show's highflying attendance was the culmination of efforts from SES, FLA, trade organisations, foreign embassies and government organisations to bring in delegations, visitors and exhibitors from overseas.
GFL's track record in presenting varied business concepts and valueadded activities at the show-ground also added weight to its success.
The focal point of the event is on franchising and licensing, which are the twin engines that drive business entrepreneurship entrepreneurship and commercialisation of IP (intellectual property), said Wong.
With that in mind, the various conferences, workshops, and franchise and licence clinic were developed with the aim to connect businesses, foster fraternity- knowledge sharing, as well as to profile franchising and licensing as viable strategies, he added.
In addition, GFL2004 is of special significance to FLA as it reflected the association's contribution to the franchise industry. Apart from launching its very first guidebook on the nuts and bolts of franchising, FLA also signed a memorandum of understanding with Ngee Ann Polytechnic at the opening ceremony in their joint development of a specialised diploma in franchising.
Franchising is not just about opening a shop. You need to have certain skills to leverage on the relevant expertise and dictate the pace you want to go forward for your franchise business, said Ron Sim, chairman of FLA.
At the show-ground, the Thai Pavilion exhibitors had a good chance to sign partnership agreements with business prospects from countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Bing Limjoco, president of the Philippine Franchise Association (PFA), said the show offered good network opportunities for Philippine companies who were either sourcing for partners from their target markets, and interested companies eager to introduce their franchising concepts in the Philippines.
Already well established in Asian cities, namely Shanghai, Jakarta and Thailand, US-based company Sunbelt International was on site to help its clients from the US and Canada look for more master franchises in Asia.
Greg Lange, managing director of Sunbelt Asia Co Ltd, was pleased that the quality of visitors had improved since Sunbelt's third year of participation at GFL, with Indonesian visitors expressing the highest degree of interest.
You can tell from the people that they are not merely information seekers, but they are keen in finding ways to enhance their businesses and asking the right questions. I think this is good because there is no other show in Asia like this, he said.
Agreeing with Lange, June Boo, manager of PricewaterhouseCoopers, commented that the quality of overseas visitors was better than last year.
We were looking for business partners who want to take up franchises in Singapore and overseas. The response has been good overall. We have received diversified interest from visitors from Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, she said.
Apart from repeat exhibiting franchisors like 7-Eleven, Andersen's of Denmark, Cheers, Subway, The Athlete's Foot and Bee Cheng Hiang, there was a wealth of interesting business opportunities from new exhibitors.
New exhibitor Cartridge World is an Australia-based company providing printer cartridge refill service with franchises in over 500 locations worldwide.
We are encouraged by strong enquiries from India, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia at the show, said Mike Fuller, the company's CEO of franchise development.
At the Singapore pavilion, 24-hour shop Xpressflower.com Soh Yee How is promoting its franchise system combining physical shops and online service. With two new outlets already scheduled for opening in December 2004 and March 2005, the retailer is looking for local franchisees to help it double its number of outlets in the next 12 months from the present four in Singapore.
We have also received enquiries from visitors from Taiwan, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and the Middle East on our franchising concept. But we are considering them very carefully because our online processes need a good broadband system, which is relatively expensive in some of these countries, said Soh.
Established only last year, Singapore- based retailer Walking Culture targets the market for ladies' shoes at all price ranges, and was looking for strong partners to help expand its business regionally at the show.
We have received strong leads from the UK, the US, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand. New franchisees developed from some of these leads would add on to our overseas franchises in Australia and Indonesia. We will also be taking part in franchise exhibitions in Dubai and London, said Raymond Phua, managing director of Walking Culture.
Traditionally the most sought-after choice for franchises with its low-entry points, F&B business continued to garner interest at the show.
Exhibiting under the umbrella of its Thai-based parent company Coffee World, Pizza Corner India (P) Ltd was looking for new franchisees from the South-east Asian region.
Although responses to our proposal for a master franchise has been moderate, we were getting many enquiries, especially from Indonesia and Singapore, to set up single-unit franchises for our company, said Anoop Sequeira, CEO of Pizza Corner India (P) Ltd.
First-time participant Singaporebased Tong Heng had also received enquiries, mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines for its master franchise.
We also met somebody from Paris and Bombay in this show who had expressed keen interest to explore our franchising opportunities, said Tan Kuan Yew, managing director of the 81- year-old Singapore-based Chinese pastry maker.
Compared to last year, the show also witnessed an increase of over 13% of its overseas exhibitors who are licensors like Dinamix from Spain. The company had received more than 100 leads, mainly from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as Bangladesh, Vietnam and China, who were attracted to its licences and master franchise for its technology in making personalised holograms.
The show is good and we are happy no complaints! We have benefited from being part of the Spanish pavilion and we would like to come back again, said Jose Maria Neira, director of Dinamix.
Licensors who participated in GFL2003 also enjoyed success in this year's event. Hubert S Co, president of Philippine-based Empire International Merchandising Corporation, said his company had met five or six potential licensees from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and India.
Most of the visitors are serious investors, unlike other licensing shows that we attended, where the visitors were mostly end-consumers who wanted free samples, he added.
InterAsia and Associates, which represented many brands worldwide for their licensing interests in Asia, also received serious enquiries from Indonesia, Thailand and India.
The organisers are doing a good job and the show is improving. They have worked very hard to make it a more international event. We'll be coming back next year because it is the only international event of its kind in the region, said Louis Lee, chairman and CEO, InterAsia and Associates.
Overall, visitors were encouraged by the enormous amount of potential GFL2004 could bring to their businesses. Both Kuhan Foo, managing director of Hoofs Sdn Bhd Malaysia, and Benjamin Foo, director of F.F.N.E. Asia Pte Ltd, concurred that the exhibition was better than the 2003 show, with more interactive displays, wider variety of exhibitors and more new brands.
Signing off this year's show with these positive remarks from visitors and exhibitors, GFL2005, set for September 21-23, alongside RITE2005 a retail concepts and technology exhibition, could undoubtedly harness even more business opportunities for everyone.