The sixth edition of Global Franchising and Licensing (GFL) was held at Suntec Singapore from September 15 to 17, 2004, attracting 8,021 visitors from more than 30 countries, and registering an increase of 44 per cent in overseas visitors from 2003. Some 229 exhibiting companies were present, up from 210 last year.
The three-day show saw eight group delegations from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand. Visitors and exhibitors came with the goal of establishing potential master franchisees and investors at the show and were generally pleased with the show's international and serious crowd. This is not surprising, as franchising has seen an upsurge in Singapore over the past five years. In 1999, there were 274 franchise systems and 700 franchisees. At the end of 2003, the number had grown to 380 franchise systems and 3,000 franchisees.
Sales turnover of the Singapore-based franchises (both local and foreign) is estimated at 15 per cent of the total domestic retail sales volume. This means that franchises contributed US$3.75 billion of the retail sales turnover of US$14.7 billion in 2003. With changing lifestyle in Asia, there is an increasing brand awareness among consumers in the region. Hence, brand licensing is set to increase in importance in Asia.
GFL 2004 was organised by Singapore Exhibition Services and the Franchising and Licensing Association (FLA). The event drew exhibitors from Australia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the US, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Spain, Germany and France.
Exhibitor feedback was mostly positive. La Boite A Pizza and Epil Centre, France chairman, Frantz Lallement, said: "The quality of visitors is good and most are the business people and investors. We are happy that we came to Singapore to break into Asia and the chances of coming back to GFL are quite high. We want to bring the best of France to Asia, which is French cuisine and French beauty."
Tung Lok Group chief operating officer William Tan, said: "There should be some form of screening on the quality of visitors so as to pre-qualify those who are genuinely serious about starting a franchise. The show should not be a platform for window shopping. Having said that, I do think that overall, the show was professionally organised.
"We wanted to create awareness that Tung Lok Group has many concepts that can be franchised. We did receive many enquiries, but only a handful of serious ones. We also used this opportunity to promote our restaurants in Singapore."
Repeat exhibitors such as licensing companies Empire International Merchandising Corporation, and InterAsia and Associates, intend to return for next year's show.
InterAsia and Associates chairman and chief executive officer Louis Lee, said: "The show was good. We had serious enquiries from Indonesia, Thailand and India. We're very happy. The organisers are doing a good job and the show is improving. They have worked very hard to make it a more international event. We'll be coming back next year because it is the only international event of its kind in the region."
Visitors were drawn to the event as they were looking for new brands. Mondial Rare Jewels chairman Stefanus Lo, said: "I visited this event two years ago, and this time it is bigger and has attracted more traffic. Some of the products and brands from the exhibitors do look very promising."
F.F.N.E Asia Pte director Benjamin Foo said: "Overall, the exhibition is much better compared with previous years. There is a wider variety of exhibitors and also lots of new brands that were not available in previous shows."
GFL2005 will return next year from 21 to 23 September 2005 alongside RITE2005, a different trade exhibition that will showcase retail concepts and technology.