Australia’s most successful franchises and how they got there

Australia knows a thing or two about franchising. There are almost 80,000 units across more than 1,000 brands, giving Australia the most franchises per capita in the world. To inspire budding entrepreneurs, this month we take a look at how some of the country’s top franchises got their start.


Founder John O’Brien was in California when he saw a pool maintenance van that appeared to be on its last legs. He reasoned that just like that maintenance van, pools themselves were decades old. People aren’t often building a new pool to replace an old one, but those old ones need plenty of upkeep. It was, in his words, “the industry that time forgot.” Back in Australia, which has a high per centage of homes with pools, O’Brien launched a franchise concept to cover the country and upgrade pools with the latest equipment, fix cracks, and keep them clean. Poolwerx is now the largest pool service company in the world and has made inroads in the US, where the idea was born.

Coffee Club

One night in 1989, friends Emmanuel Kokoris and Emmanuel Drivas were out in Brisbane looking for an excellent cup of coffee. They didn’t find one that fit the bill, but the evening turned out to be very productive indeed, as it inspired the idea for a relaxed yet stylish place people could meet for a cuppa and a chat. They opened the first one that year and began franchising five years later. Now there are hundreds of such places in Australia and several dozen in New Zealand.

Battery World

From one North Queensland store in 1997 to more than 110 across Australia today, Battery World has always found success by committing to helping people who need it. Whether that be a new car battery or bushfire relief, the company integrates into the community around it and pitches in where it can. A little innovation, such as free home delivery and contactless collection, doesn’t hurt either.

Mad Mex

Founder Clovis Young grew up on Mexican food in California. But in his travels he found that, far from offering simple, nutritious meals, most “Mexican” places offered an inauthentic, unhealthy Tex-Mex experience. As Young puts it on the website, “there is a lot of Mexican food out there, and to be honest it’s mostly crap.” Mad Mex operates on the belief that simple, fresh ingredients can be delicious and fast whilst being healthy. “Your body is your temple, not your greasy pizza parlour!”


Cleaning gutters by hand is a pain. Not only did Warren Ballantyne notice, he did something about it. Not content to complain and move on, he spent two years working with engineers to develop machinery that could vacuum out gutters. Sharing his invention with the world, Ballantyne opened Gutter-Vac in 1995 and began franchising in 2000. The system takes care of rainwater tanks and stormwater sumps as well as gutters, taking a lot of pain out of homeowners’ lives.

Brumby’s and Bakers Delight

We all enjoy our daily bread. So opening a bakery made sense when Roger Gillespie opened Old Style Bread Centre in 1975. Gillespie and his wife, Lesley, also started Bakers Delight with friend Gary Stephenson in 1980. Going for a “truly Australian” identity, Old Style Bread Centre became Brumby’s in the 80s. But it was the delectable uniquely Aussie cheesymite scroll introduced in 1994 that really set the bakeries apart. Combined, they have over 1,000 global locations.