In the Spotlight – William Liddy of W Liddy & Co Ltd, McDonald’s Franchise

How did you start with McDonald’s?

Back in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I was working in Saudi Arabia with American co-workers who mentioned McDonald’s and how fast it had grown in the USA.  Shortly afterwards I returned to the UK and opened Olivers Sandwich Bar in Newcastle. I began writing to McDonald’s in 1985.  Eventually, they offered me their franchise “route” and I began a 12 month, full time, unpaid, training programme that saw me learn everything from floor cleaner up to manager.  McDonald’s then offered me a restaurant, but the site they initially offered me didn’t appeal. 

In 1994 they gave me the opportunity to buy the Northumberland Street, Newcastle, franchise and join the McDonald’s organisation. Accepting the offer meant I had to sell Olivers, as franchisees are not allowed outside business interests.

How has the business changed over the last 10 years?

It has certainly got tougher!  Despite economic pressures, McDonald’s has appealed to the broad public and remained popular. Sales have grown, especially post covid, as delivery and drive-through have accelerated. However, achieving growth has required significant investment, constant supervision and the need to remain current in the eyes of our customers.

What advice would you give your younger self with the benefit of hindsight?

I don’t think any of my business decisions resulted in a regret. I’m proud of the achievements the business has made and its current position as a significant local employer of over 900 people.

What has been the biggest challenge in the last 10 years?

Complying with the various legislative rules and regulations, including food safety, employment law, health & safety, and the pressures of increased competition.

What has been your greatest achievement within the business?

Developing and retaining staff in a very challenging sector. Many of my staff have stayed with the business for their entire career and now form a competent senior management team.  I’m also incredibly proud that my daughter became the first “Next Generation Franchisee” in recent times, when she acquired her first restaurant 3 years ago.

What do you find the most rewarding about what you have achieved?

Seeing the business grow, my people develop, and increasing my restaurant portfolio to eight.

Any interesting facts or other comments you would like to make?

I am proud to be part of the McDonald’s worldwide organisation and have now been a franchisee for over 30 years. My business relationship with McDonald’s has been mutually beneficial to me and my family and I intend, eventually, to transfer the business into the capable hands of my daughter who has recently become a Next Generation Franchisee.  

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