IFA Convention Attendees Pack into Summit to Learn About International Franchise Expansion



Reflecting the increasing focus of IFA membership on international operations, two simultaneous sets of panels were crowded by franchise executives eager to hear from international franchising leaders on Feb. 18 at IFA’s Annual Convention.  IFA’s International Summit offered panels featuring experts including Bill Edwards of Edwards Global Services, Pat Loui of the Export-Import Bank and James Pickup of the Middle East Investment Initiative.  The Summit was broken into two tracks, “New to International” and “Growing Your International Network”.

The first track began with a panel on evaluating opportunities and risk in international expansion.  Bill Edwards, Steve Devine of Johnny Rockets and Jeffrey Brimer of Faegre  Baker Daniels gave an overview of the international expansion from the perspective of franchisors considering going international for the first time.  The panel touched on strong markets, what franchise sectors are in greatest demand, how to tell when you are ready to expand abroad and what steps to take.  The next panel, featuring Alejandro Portilla of TGI Friday’s, John Prittie of Two Men And A Truck and Larry Weinberg of Cassels Brock & Blackwell presented major methods of overseas development, the perspective of international licensees, and stories of their own experiences in international development.

Next door, another track of the Summit offered insights for franchisors already operating internationally.  During the first panel, Gaylen Knack of Gray Plant Mooty, Yoshino Nakajima of Home Instead Senior Care and Douglas Wong of Denny’s reviewed non-traditional expansion strategies.  Doug Wong shared how Denny’s expansion strategy incorporates non-traditional adaptations to local markets including a location with a game room in Latin America.  Gaylen Knack related that many of the fastest growing markets are in the developing world offering great opportunities as well as risks.  Thought leadership as a means of facilitating international expansion was the focus of the Ms. Nakajima’s presentation.  She stressed that improved perceptions will present new chances for growth.

The second panel gave an overview of how franchisors can leverage U.S. Government resources to facilitate international expansion.  This large panel featured Bert Bryan from HASB Global Franchise Finance Alliance, Peter Holt of Tasti D-Lite,  Kristin Houston, representing the US Commercial Service, Pat Loui and James Pickup.  Ms. Loui explained what the Export-Import Bank is, what it offers and presented case studies.  James Pickup presented the the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and its products with a special focus on the Tunisian franchise lending facility recently featured on this blog.  Bert Bryan offered projections of international franchise finance through 2020 with a focus on capital supply.  Kristin Houston, already well known to attendees as the recent head of the US Commercial Service’s franchise team, reviewed the considerable resources they can offer.  At the end of the session, RadioShack’s Marty Amschler related his recent positive experience on a USAID micro-mission to Afghanistan and urged other franchisors to attend a planned second mission.

Slides from these presentations can be found in IFA’s 2013 Convention app.