Over the last two or three years, I’ve traveled a lot in Sweden and in doing so, I’ve become quite familiar with the franchising scene there. Sweden is a very stable European economy and as such, it boasts a thriving franchise market. Over the next two posts, I’ll be blogging about the various opportunities available in Swedish franchising, both for internationally-franchises and those based in Sweden.
I’d like to start in Sweden. The Swedish Franchise Association
was started in 1972. Official statistics on the number of Swedish franchises are spotty, though there were about 350 franchises operating in Sweden back in 2003, and that number has surely risen in the last 8 years. Domestic franchises span a wide range of industries: from Pressbyrån
, which are convenience stores ubiquitous in Stockholm subway stations to gift card maker Card Group Greetings to pet store Arken Zoo
, there are successful franchises for everyone. Many of the most popular businesses in Sweden, like IKEA, are franchised and it’s clear that the Swedes have taken a shine to franchising.
So while franchising permeates most aspects of Swedish life, I’d like to just focus to two particularly interesting aspects of Swedish franchising that I’ve witnessed in my own travels.
Unlike a country like, say, Ireland, Swedes are not too drawn to socializing in a pub or bar. This is not to say Swedes don't like to drink, but since domestic alcohol is expensive (and not very good), Swedes prefer to socialize in cafes. The Swedish word for a coffee meet-up is fika
. You hear the word quite a lot in everyday conversation. While there are many beautiful old cafés around Stockholm, a number of franchises have sprung up to capitalize on fika culture. Interestingly, for a country where most people under 50 speak fluent English, Sweden’s coffee franchises generally display an overt interest in Anglophonic culture. Most of them have Anglo names and try to capitalize on the perceived coolness of the English language.
Starbucks has nearly no footprint in the country and so a franchise like Wayne’s is one of the common franchises in Stockholm. You’ll find many of its stores around Stockholm’s Central Station (it's also photographed above).
Also very popular with young people is Espresso House. This unit is very like a kiosk that you might find in an American mall. This photo was taken in the Gallerian near Sergels Torg in the centre of the city. Gallerians, which are essentially shopping malls, are very important in Sweden because of the cold climate and here’s an example of the kind of store that you often come across.
A Swedish take on QSR
Fast food is as popular in Sweden as anywhere else in the world. You’ll find most of the big international QSR brands in Sweden, but I’d like to focus on a very Swedish take on the QSR concept.
Max Burger is probably the most prominent Swedish QSR franchise, especially around Stockholm. (Do you notice the heated lamps outside of Max? This a subtle feature meant to attract smokers and people who don't mind eating outside in the dead of winter! Let's just say Swedes are used to the freezing temperatures)
At a first glance, Max might look like a run of the mill American-style burger joint to you, but there are a few Swedish touches. For one, you’ll find all kinds of interior design quirks, such neon sticks in the ceiling.
There are even ordering stations where hungry eaters can beat the lines and place an order through a machine.
There’s a few health-food options on their menu, so here you’ll find a Green Meal, which includes a veggie burger.
All in all, you can see the great influence of America upon all of these franchises. Sweden is especially nostalgic for 1950s American style, as you can see this from this American Cookies store, which features mostly Swedish tasty treats (and a few American cookies.)
And how do American franchises fare in Sweden? Check in on Monday for a report on the US franchise scene in Sweden.