Expanding Social Circles Through Franchising


Feb 10, 2017

A Manchester-based business which connects people through a social calendar is looking to roll its successful model out to a national market via the franchising route after building up a membership of 500.

The founder of Social Circle is Stephen Sunderland, who started the business in 2009. Social Circle organises a range of events and activities for people who want to make new friends and contacts through shared hobbies and interests, including wine tasting, walking, nights on the town and camping. There are plenty of exciting and diverse fixtures on the calendar to get involved with.

Stephen started up his businesses after travelling internationally for five years and then returning to the UK. Originally from Scotland, he moved to Manchester to be with his partner, who was from the city. He then found it difficult to meet new people, being new to the area. However, he knew that he'd enjoyed meeting and building friendships with like-minded people while travelling and experiencing new activities and events. He believed this was much easier abroad because in Manchester people were far more dispersed across the city and events tended to cost more.

So Social Circle was established by Stephen while he pursued his day job of graphic design. The first gathering was in a bar in the south Manchester area of Didsbury. It was a huge success and rapidly grew to the point that there were over 100 activities and events every month, including barbecues, pub crawls, dinners and weekend trips.

The business charges its members a monthly fee to belong to Social Circle and the membership base in south Manchester has now exceeded 500 people. Stephen now runs the Manchester business full time and is now looking to roll it out to the national market via a franchising model.

He explains that although it was originally created to allow people new to the area to meet other people, Social Circle isn't just for them - it's for any person who wants to meet new friends and contacts. Members have explained to him that sometimes they get to Friday and want to go out, but don't know anyone to attend an event with. Sometimes they want to go on a Peak District hike, but don't have friends with similar interests. Social Circle bridges the gap and brings plenty of new contacts.

Stephen currently organises most of the Social Circle events in Manchester and is excited about rolling the brand out across the UK. He's already located around sixty locations that he believes could be viable business options for Social Circle and his ambition is to expand the business using the franchise model to thirty franchises by 2014.

At FranchiseExpo, we're very interested in this franchise idea and can see the high potential demand for the Social Circle franchise in the UK, particularly in large urban areas. We'll keep you updated on Social Circle's progress!