Franchisees 'vitally important'

Thresher says decision to pause scheme is not a withdrawal of commitment

Thresher insists it remains committed to its franchisees despite a decision by its new owner to put the much-publicised franchising scheme on hold.

A cut-off date at the end of the year has been set for current franchise applications, because Vision Capital said it needed to prioritise investment in both Wine Rack and Thresher's convenience formats.

Thresher had been bullish about its franchising programme during the ownership of Terra Firma and under the stewardship of Roger Whiteside, who was replaced this month as chief executive by Yvonne Rankin. Many expected the next phase of the franchising programme to include Wine Rack.

The company was at pains to point out it remains committed to the franchisees it has already recruited, and indeed may re open the franchise campaign in the future.

Rankin said: "We currently have nearly 100 live franchisees, trading under both the Threshers and The Local brands, representing a significant part of our estate. By Christmas, we estimate that there will be around 150 franchised stores in our portfolio.

"These franchises are a vitally important part of our business and will continue to receive the full support from our dedicated team of franchise business advisers and senior franchise staff."

Fyl Newington, head of franchise development, said: "The franchisees are a vitally important part of the business and we want to continue to give them our full support.

"It's going to be in the business's interests to understand how they perform going forward.

"We're all incredibly proud that the scheme has been successful."

Stores which had been earmarked for franchising were profitable and not likely to be on a disposal list should a franchisee fail to be appointed by December, according to Steve Masters.

Lizzie Bolze, part of the team applying for nine franchises in East Sussex, believes all paperwork will be completed by the end of the year, and admitted there had been a stressful few days when news emerged about the scheme's withdrawal. But she said Thresher was "putting our interests first".