Updated: 55 of the 65 Threshers’ franchisees have formed an action group to resist being bought by a buyer they view as “unfavourable”.
The group – which represents about 10% of the First Quench estate, and around £30m of its annual sales - have appointed law firm Blake Lapthorn to act on their behalf. Threshers owner First Quench Retailingfell into administration two weeks ago and administrator KPMG is seeking a buyer for all or parts of the business.
The franchisees want to be given the opportunity to choose whether they want to work for a new owner or not, and are currently considering whether to put in a collective bid to purchase the franchised estate.
They will agree to a sale if the terms are favourable to their business but want to be able to refuse if not.
Speaking on behalf of the franchisees, Blake Lapthorn lawyer Geoffrey Sturgess said: “Unlike employees, who always have the right to refuse to transfer to a purchaser of a business if they do not like, or disapprove of, their new boss, franchisees can, in theory, be transferred without their consent.”
However, he added: “We are pretty confident that they have the right to walk away if they do not like the purchaser. They are determined to resist any attempt to force them into a sale with which they would be unhappy.
“For obvious reasons they are insisting that any purchaser must undertake to become, and remain, a member of the British Franchise Association and comply with its Code of Ethics. Further, they would require extensive changes to the current franchise contract.
“The franchisees are perfectly happy to take their stores independent if no such purchaser comes forward.”
The administrators KPMG have not yet said if they would be prepared to release franchisees.
Franchisees have had a tumultuous relationship with First Quench following the withdrawal of credit insurance earlier in the year and the continual stock problems.