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FCA in West Aus

Jack CowinFrom what I’ve read and haven’t read about Jack Cowin he is an impressive businessman, franchisor and franchisee.  The Hungry Jack’s brand is recognized throughout Australia and with a very healthy 15% increase over prior year his 2009/10 revenue topped the $1B mark. 

When Jack Cowin talks of course people listen. The Franchise Council of Australia set about muttering that the Western Australian Franchising Bill was a wicked concoction from Jack.  FCA underestimated Australia.

However, the Canadian-born Mr Cowin has entered the public spotlight again this year as part of his long-running battle to change franchising laws.  Chalpat Sonti

Australia had seen 3 Inquiries into franchising since 2008 and all recommendations went to far more than the federal government was to come up with. There are an awful lot of franchisees, Members of Parliaments, academics and journalists who have been part of a massive groundswell over many years to get the problems in franchising out in the open for a cleanup.

There is no doubting Jack  Cowin had something to say in WA where FCA were simply attempting to sidetrack from how many people in Australia now truly understand the dire need for franchising reform. A similar Bill was already on the table in South Australia.

In a letter to WA Premier Colin Barnett, he recently accused the Franchise Council of Australia of running a smear campaign against state Liberal MP Peter Abetz, who introduced a private members bill to reform the sector.

FCA side-stepped Jack and attempted to challenge Peter Abetz’s credibility publicly.  That was a foolish error that backfired when Abetz, like Piccolo in South Australia, are clearly very popular with obvious principles and the courage to take on franchising that was once deemed too ugly and too complex..

The franchisor Jack Cowin clearly isn’t concerned about the WA Franchising Bill. Most franchisors that have looked at the Bill don’t seem to see where it will affect negatively on how they operate.

The Bill - which would allow for fines of up to $100,000 for breaches and allow for a statutory definition of good faith - has been the subject of furious behind-the-scenes lobbying by both supporters, largely franchisees, and opponents, mainly franchisors.

A comparatively smaller group of the FCA represented noxious and now nervous franchisors do have something to fear. They presently have a very substantial number of franchisees captive to bad faith practices and they might have to change their ways if the reform broom continues across the country.

Most franchisors appear to be crying out for lender and franchisee investor confidence and recognise that the cowboys in franchising have gotten away with far too much for far too long where contractual power abuse has become an out of control frenzy for a sick bunch.

The franchisee Jack Cowin has felt the sharp end of Yum and knows too well that there needs to be good faith and accountability in franchising. 

Most stakeholders consider that the introduction of efficient regulation to the franchising sector would go a long way to a return to confidence and a halting of the toxic reputation franchising has been rapidly creating and particularly over the last 10 years under the auspices of the ACCC. 

These public consequences are similar to those that prompted a recent beginning to clean up the Mortgage Fund sector.  

With Queensland’s David Gibson now pushing for franchising to come under the state QCAT tribunal system and the New South Wales Chamber of Commerce pushing for franchising dispute resolution to be handled by a Small Business Commissioner Jack’s is definitely not the only voice.   

Clearly the point is to end up with effective legislation that allows all stakeholders an equal opportunity to be successful and deterrent penalty for any who would unfairly deny that opportunity.

Franchisees and advocates are strongly encouraged to make submissions to WA and SA before 21 January 2011. WA and SA Submission Closing Dates January 2011

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