RFG or Jump Swim Schools? What was the headline news of 2019?

By Sarah Stowe | 17 Dec 2019 View comments

It’s almost the end of 2019, and a great time to check back on the hottest stories from a year in franchising. News about growth, investment and achievement peppered the headlines but the biggest hits of the year were the long-running franchisor misadventures.

A troublesome year for Jump! Swim Schools ended with good news as more franchised outlets joined a new franchisor. It was a long way from the $15m debt revelation that heralded the start of 2019. In the 10 months in between, there were allegations of wrong-doing, ACCC proceedings and voluntary administration.

Once again Retail Food Group has proved fertile ground for headline-grabbing news. In July ASIC turned the spotlight on RFG following the biggest story of the year for the Aussie franchisor community, the group’s $160m recapitalisation. This soon ballooned to $190m and was finally approved by shareholders in November.

The year started with news of RFG’s $111m loss while restructuring. It’s been another long 12 months for the beleagured franchise group. Will we see some significant change in 2020?

Fast food headlines

Everyone loves news about the big brands… four months after the Craveable sale was revealed CEO Brett Houldin announced he would be farewelling the firm in December.

Maccas fired up everyone in early 2019 with news of its $500m expansion in Australia – that’s a story to watch.

And of course we were excited about KFC’s drive through only store and whether Tex-Mex chain Taco Bell will get it right this time?

As we slide out of the year, burger restaurant chain Grill’d has been caught in the media headlights. How will this tale run?

Franchising and regulation

We have been gripped by reports of underpayments and back pay, a workplace concern that crosses from small franchise outlets to retail giants like Woolworths, proving the payroll issue needs some attention.

The year also marked the next stage in the parliamentary inquiry saga, with the delayed report finally released early 2019. Up next was the franchising taskforce which in turn released its proposals for reform, seeking industry feedback.

The Franchise Council of Australia took steps to be more inclusive, launching a franchisee committee.

Outside of news, what really spiked the interest of franchisors were two counter-balanced articles from Franchise Relationships Institute founder Greg Nathan: the 10 franchisee mistakes that frustrate franchisors swiftly followed the 10 franchisor mistakes that annoy franchisees.

What will 2020 hold?