Top 10 Franchises in Europe

- Leadership - Apr 04, 2019

Business Chief reveals the largest franchises based in Europe – from the UK to the Czech Republic – according to Franchise Europe.

10. The Body Shop

Headquartered in the UK, the Body Shop is a health and beauty franchise. The company was founded in 1976 by Anita Roddick. The business, with almost 2,000 stores in 66 markets, focuses on natural products and ethical trade and supply chains. “We’ve made it our mission to enrich our products, our people and our planet. That means working fairly with our farmers and suppliers and helping communities thrive through our Community Trade programme, being 100% vegetarian and always and forever being firmly against animal testing,” the firm claims.

9. Sport 2000

France’s Sport 2000 was launched by three footballers – Pierre Batteux, Just Fontaine, and Jean Djorkaeff. The company operates five different stores: Sport 2000; Mondo velo; Streets, Sport; Pro Montagne and Espace Montagne. As an independent sport retailer, the company’s brands include Adidas, Canada Goose, and Lacoste. Sport 2000 has more than 3,200 outlets located across 25 markets.

8. Europcar

The car rental firm operates in 170 countries across Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Founded in 1948, the company now has more than 10mn rental contracts per annum using its fleet of over 215,000 vehicles. Europcar is the largest business of its kind in Europe. Last year, it became the largest car rental network globally following a strategic alliance with the largest car rental company in North America, Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

7. Swatch

The Swiss watch company launched its operations to counteract the growing demand for Japanese watches – manufacturing a simple, plastic design during the quartz crisis. “The secret of this luxury timepiece lay in extreme simplification. On the manufacturing side, the classical division into three parts (bottom plate, case and case back), was replaced by a case made in one single piece, with the back also serving as the bottom plate,” the company’s website reveals. In 1997, the business opened approximately 60 shops and is now present on every continent, excluding Antarctica.

6. Point S

The vehicle repair business was established in France in 1971. By 1988, the company had expanded its operations to Germany and Italy, and had launched in Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg in the following decade. In 2011, Point S expanded to the United States, and by 16 the firm was operational in Africa and Asia. “Point S has over 1,800 independent professional dealers managing Point S service centres across 38 Countries with a customer-orientated philosophy,” the firm states.

5. Dia

The Spanish supermarket franchise, Dia, currently operates almost 7,500 stores between Spain, Portugal, Argentina, and Brazil. The company was established in 1979, but was franchised 10 years later in 1989. Based in Las Rozas, north west of Madrid, the business was acquired by France’s Carrefour in 2014. The firm is listed on the Madrid Stock Exchange and employs 34,000 people, with 8,000 roles generated from the franchise. Dia aims to maximise efficiency through its logistics and supply chain, which it claims will also enable price efficiency.

4. Etam

Etam initially launched in France in 1916 by Max Lindemann, and has been selling women’s apparel for 100 years, which it claims to be “100 years of French Liberté.” The company has entered more than 200 companies since its launch. In 1997, the business acquired the British clothing company of the same name for £97mn (€110.55mn). The firm relaunched operations within the UK in 2011. Under the Etam Group are also the Undiz and 1.2.3 brands.

3. Bata

Operational in 29 nations across Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America, Bata was founded in 1894 in the Czech Republic. The family-owned business operates 5,300 stores and 23 manufacturing facilities. “Few things define a lifestyle the way shoes do. We are among the very best in the world at making them. That’s why 1 million plus people choose to buy Bata every day,” claims Bata.

2. Benetton Group

The fashion retailer based in Ponzano, Italy, has a network of around 5,000 stores “in the most important markets in the world”. The company claims to be “a responsible group that plans for the future and lives in the present, with a watchful eye to the environment, to human dignity, and to a society in transformation,” Benetton notes. “When companies export around the world, they normally adapt their advertising to suit different areas. Benetton chooses a single, universal message that is valid for all consumers: wherever they may live, whatever the color of their skin and whichever language they may speak.” The company was established in 1965 and begun franchising in 1983.


SPAR launched in the Netherlands as a single store in 1932. The brand was originally named DESPAR – an acronym for the Dutch phrase “Door Eendrachtig Samenwerken Profiteren Allen Regelmatig”, which translates to “through united co-operation everyone regularly profits”. Now the company manages 12,322 shops across 34 markets. In the 2017 financial year, the Amsterdam-headquartered business saw its global sales increase by 5.3% to reach €34.5bn (US$40.1bn). The firm offers six different sub-brands: SPAR Express, SPAR Neighbourhood, SPAR Drive-Thru, EUROSPAR, INTERSPAR, and SPAR Gourmet.

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