Musgrave UK has received just under 1,000 applications for the 172 Budgens franchises it is selling off, said executive chairman Eoin McGettigan.
It has been seeking individual retailers to operate the Budgens corporate estate since April. It already has 60 franchises on the high street.
McGettigan said half the applications had come from existing independents while the other half was from people involved in retail, such as store managers from major multiples.
“We are keen to get more of these type of people. It gives us a good blend and also brings new blood into the independent sector,” said McGettigan.
The stores are bigger than a typical independent outlet, at an average of 6,000 sq ft compared to 1,000 sq ft. “People see it as a chance to buy their own business,” he said. Applications are now being processed and the first franchises will come on stream before Christmas. McGettigan said it was difficult to give an average cost for a franchise.
“There is a massive variety. We have built business plans for each store. You could get two stores with the same footprint but they would cost different amounts as a result of trading and environmental issues.”
The company has sold off a limited number of larger stores. The Midlands Co-op has acquired three, in Carlton-in-Lindrick, Nottinghamshire, Stretton, Staffordshire and Desborough, Northamptonshire.
The Carlton-in-Lindrick store will transfer to the society on Monday. It will take ownership of Stretton a week later and Desborough on October 18.