From Royal Navy to Successful Business Ownership

From Royal Navy to Successful Business Ownership

By Ed Hanna

Pip Wilkins, CEO of the bfa, speaks with former Royal Navy engineer, James Griffin, now franchisee at InXpress.

James Griffin went from being a weapon engineer for the Royal Navy to a successful business owner within three years. This was made possible through franchising, an industry that allows talented people from all backgrounds to take charge of their career. “I had no experience in logistics, or sales. I had served in the Military, so by rights, there’s no way I should be successfully running my own business,” explains James.

He decided to research franchising after deciding to leave the Armed Forces, and found that it appealed to him. While he knew that it was the direction he wanted to take, there was still the issue of what business to partner with.

“Having spent six years in the Royal Navy as a weapon engineer, I decided that my time had come to consider leaving the Forces and start a life in franchising. Luckily my last two years were based shoreside at NATO Northwood Headquarters, London, which allowed me the time to research franchising and the different franchising options available to me. I knew I wanted to buy a franchise, but I was unsure of which industry/type of franchise.”


The franchise industry has grown substantially over the years, generating £17.2 billion and employing 710,000 in 2018, according to the bfa NatWest Franchise Survey. There are 935 recognised business format franchise units in the UK, covering a wide range of businesses, from small pet sitting businesses to fast food conglomerates, so it can be hard to know which business will fit your personality and passion.

James found this difficult too, seeking help to find the perfect match: “I visited a number of franchises, including some in the fast food, coffee and automotive sectors. I also went to the National Franchise Exhibition, where I picked up some really useful information, but was still none the wiser regarding the right franchise for me. Feeling a little confused I contacted a company called MatchPoint UK who are matchmakers for potential franchisees and franchisors and together we decided InXpress would be the perfect fi t, and it was! I eventually bought the franchise in November 2015.”


Finding the right franchise is an important step in the due diligence. This is a partnership between you and the franchisor. The franchisor wants you to succeed and an unsuitable match will be bad for both parties. When looking for a franchise, I believe it is essential to attend an exhibition, especially one partnered with the bfa as only accredited businesses will be able to exhibit. From there, take a look at the attendee list and note all the franchises that you believe match your skills, personality and interests. It’s important to take time with the franchise – a good franchisor will not rush you into any decisions, and will encourage you to thoroughly look into the business and speak to other franchisees in their network.

James found that taking the time to find the right franchise has resulted in a match made in heaven. Being a franchisee for InXpress, a global shipping franchise organisation, has provided him with the training and support necessary to own and operate a business successfully.

James has some advice for any Service-leavers looking for a new career start: “I strongly believe the skills and attributes I developed while Serving have really helped me in running my franchise and if there are any soon-to-be civvies heading in to resettlement, a little bit bewildered, then I really would suggest considering franchising. It has been life-changing for me, I have a comfortable lifestyle and I am able to take plenty of time off (not that I do) and the future is looking very bright.”

British Franchise Association