riverford, entrepreneurial itches + the f-word

I am writing this from our French farm in the Vendée, where we are harvesting the best crop of fennel I've ever seen. The smell as it rolls onto the lorry along with the last of the bunched carrots and courgettes is wonderful. It’s a far cry from last year, when inclement weather, inexperience and some bad luck resulted in financial disaster. 2011 has started well and I (for one) remain confident that we'll go on to have a successful business.

You may or may not be aware that 90% of our boxes are delivered by local franchisees. For years the F-word was banned at Riverford, partly because of its association with questionable enterprises, and partly because I felt so uncomfortable with the restrictions inherent in franchising. Over twelve years I have changed my mind because there is nothing intrinsically wrong with franchising (just with some of the businesses doing it), and because I have finally realised that not everyone is like me. Amongst us there is a spectrum in terms of appetite for risk and the creative autonomy that comes with running your own business. Some people are happy to be employees and express their creativity in other ways. Some, like me, are on the opposite extreme: restlessly itching to develop new ideas and comfortable taking risks to see them happen. Many more are in the middle, with a hunger for independence but willing to accept some restrictions in return for support from an established brand and business, and reduced risk. This is where franchising comes in (sometimes). 

looking for a new business franchise?

After twelve years of franchising, some of our original ‘vegmen’ and ‘vegladies’ want to retire or move on. About half our franchisees started as customers and it makes sense: they understand what customers want and share our vision and enthusiasm for good food that is fair to everyone. If you have the itch and are looking for something new, something that you believe in, this might just be for you. For more information go to www.riverford.co.uk/franchise

Guy Watson from Riverford in Devon