Lifestyle makes South West an attractive option

A RAPIDLY growing permanent population and increasing tourism numbers have made WA’s South West region an attractive option for franchisors looking to expand their operations.

Baskin Robbins ice-cream parlour is the latest in a string of franchises that have sprung up in the region in recent years, among them Clark Rubber, Tandy Electronics and Roy Weston.

Most have chosen the business heart of the South West, Bunbury, as their location and are supported by an immediate population of almost 30,000, which doubles when the population of greater Bunbury is taken into account.

But this population is sufficiently small that most franchisees are forced to seek clients all through the region.

Bunbury Cheesecake Shop proprietor Dean Freeman said his business simply would not survive if he relied solely on the Bunbury population.

“I cannot rely on over-the-counter sales, I have to work on getting clients outside the Bunbury area,” he said.

“We supply cakes to cafes and supermarkets in Busselton, Augusta, Margaret River, Collie and Harvey and this is the only thing that keeps my business viable.”

Bunbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Rick Harrison warned franchise operators needed to do their sums very carefully before deciding to locate in the area.

“In the holiday period, there are plenty of tourist down here and business figures can look very encouraging,” Mr Harrison said. “But once the holiday season finishes at the end of Easter, business does drop off.

“Those looking to set up food and hospitality franchises in particular have to be so careful not to enter into one based solely on summer period figures because there are costs and overheads that will have to be carried all the way through winter.”

Mr Harrison said the small population base, relative to the Perth metropolitan area, also meant business was highly competitive.

Leschenault Business Enterprise Centre manager Alison Lannin said that, often when a franchise opened up in the area, it was taking the place of another that had closed. Ms Lannin said one attraction of opening a franchise in Bunbury or the South West was the lifestyle of the area.

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