Navigating the tides: franchise business growth prospects in 2024

As we step into 2024, the outlook for franchise business growth in New Zealand is both promising and challenging, certainly a different outlook to the start of 2023.

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Key indicators reveal a complex landscape shaped by inflation, interest rates, immigration, recession, and the influence of political stability and policies.
Inflation: balancing act in the economic ecosystem

The spectre of inflation, hovering at around 5.6%, has been a constant companion in economic discussions. While this figure represents a slight reprieve from the 6-plus percent of the previous year, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand maintains a cautious stance, asserting that, “inflation is still far too high.” The hope is that the worst may be behind us, as wage growth pressure eases and inflation becomes an entrenched but manageable part of the economic landscape.

Interest rates: a long-term commitment to restraint

In contrast to its Australian counterpart, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand has recently opted to maintain its official cash rate at 5.5%. The bank’s clear commitment to keeping interest rates higher for an extended period, described as “retaining restrictive interest rates,” reflects a strategy aimed at taming inflation. Businesses now are generally factoring in higher interest rates in the long-term when making financial decisions, anticipating a landscape where the cost of capital remains relatively high. Critically it’s feeling like we have reached the peak of the interest rate cycle.

Immigration: double-edged sword in economic growth

The surge in immigration, with annual migrant arrivals reaching an all-time high of 225,400, brings both opportunities and challenges. On the positive side, it eases labor pressures, providing businesses, including franchises, with a potential talent pool. However, the downside lies in the potential fuel it adds to housing price increases and general consumption. Franchise owners must carefully navigate this double-edged sword, leveraging the benefits of a diverse workforce while remaining vigilant about its economic implications.

Recession: a distant concern, but not absent

Despite the potential threats posed by inflation and immigration dynamics, the likelihood of a recession in 2024 appears to be diminishing. The synergy of slowing inflation and a robust influx of immigrants is anticipated to act as a buffer, preventing New Zealand from descending into an economic downturn. As inflation trends in the right direction and growth remains generally positive, the economic outlook for franchise businesses is optimistic.

Political stability and policy: a catalyst for business confidence

The change in government has brought with it an expectation of increased business confidence. While the formation of the new government took time, the early signs indicate a focus on the economy and policies sympathetic to business. This shift in political stability has far-reaching implications as government policies directly influence inflation, interest rates, immigration, and by extension, the overall economic environment. Franchise businesses can find assurance in a government that recognises its role in fostering economic growth.

Government spending: pivotal economic activity

With government spending accounting for approximately 30% of economic activity, its influence cannot be understated. The previous government’s disregard for its impact on inflation is contrasted by the current government’s apparent awareness of the interconnectedness of policy and economic indicators.

Related: What comes after franchisee success?

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Nathan Bonney
Nathan Bonney
Director of Iridium Partners. He can be reached at nathan@iridium.net.nz or 0275-393-022

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