Tuesday, September 8, 2009

H&R Block Goes Franchise Route

H&R Block Inc. plans to sell a pool of 500 company-owned offices, converting them to franchises throughout the fall and winter.
Kansas City-based H&R Block (NYSE: HRB) hopes to target entrepreneurs already operating in or interested in the tax business.
“H&R Block believes that success will be driven through a hands-on operator involved with the business,” Ken Treat, senior vice president of franchise development, said in a release Thursday. “As such, these locations will be sold to entrepreneurs who will dedicate their time and enthusiasm to the business.”
H&R Block is offering new and established offices throughout the country. H&R Block said in the release that the existing offices have an established client base, equipment and experienced tax professionals that enable the franchisee to take over and immediately begin developing the market as an H&R Block franchise.
H&R Block is offering a refundable initial deposit and no franchise fee, business development support and year-round revenue opportunities through Block’s various business services programs.
“There is no better time to join forces with the leader in the tax industry,” Treat said in the release. “As one of the most recognized brands, H&R Block has processes and tools in place that can help you realize your business goals, whether you are a current independent tax firm or an entrepreneur.”
Treat said in an interview that the locations for sale aprimarily are in rural areas outside a 50-mile radius of a district office, but that there also are inner-city locations in areas with large ethnic populations. He said Block thinks these offices are better run by people who live and work in those communities and understand the culture and heritage of the people who live there.
“These are not unprofitable offices,” Treat said. “The strategy is not to raise capital, but to right-size our footprint and get more local ownership. We identified these markets, which tend to do better as franchise locations.”
Treat said that any capital raised would be used at the discretion of the company, which has stated goals of buying back shares, paying dividends and making investments that increase shareholder value.
Block ranks No. 4 on the Kansas City Business Journal’s list of area public companies.

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