The future of the owner of Australia’s second-largest franchise system is in jeopardy after a revolt by franchisees.
Jim Penman, founder and owner of the Jim’s Group – which spans 28 different franchises and 2700 franchisees in Australia alone – faces being forced out of the company, and a class action, after a referendum held at the weekend.
The ballot – run through a US-based secure voting service – has so far found 89 per cent of master franchisers wanted Mr Penman out, while 81 per cent supported a class action for alleged breach of contract.
Those behind the ballot have extended it to Friday, claiming their efforts to hold the referendum were hampered by Mr Penman shutting down a website promoting the vote. Mr Penman – whose franchise is second only to Australia Post in size – has dismissed the referendum as a ”made-up vote” orchestrated by a disaffected British master franchiser.
But Mr Penman admitted many in his Australian operation wanted him out of the company he built up from a single mowing business in Melbourne in 1982 into one of the world’s largest franchises, with annual turnover in this country of about $250 million.