“A Tribute by Michael Sherlock”

Howard Bellin recently passed away in Melbourne, he was born in  New York in 1933 and moved to Australia in 1961- I have been in contact with his wife Barbara today who was happy for me to contact people to pay tribute to his life and work in Franchising.

I first met Howard in 1982 as an employee of a company Yoco Pty Ltd, the original company of Old Style Bread Centre that started what was to become Brumby’s Bakeries the Franchise chain that operates in all States and territories and in New Zealand. At that time I was the joint MD running the Queensland operation. The company had expanded to around 15 stores in Melbourne and SE Queensland all that were company-owned and operated. We wanted to expand further but lacked the capital.

Two of my Victorian-based colleagues  Bob Snow and David Winter had heard Howard speak on his idea of offering Franchises as a way of expanding using other people’s capital and entrepreneurial effort. Up until this time the group was forced to sell off successful stores in order to raise capital to open new stores as Banks were reluctant to lend to the relatively new concept of High Street Hot Bread Shops.

A meeting was set up with Howard at his offices in St Kilda road that lead to the commencement of Franchising by the company. The first franchised stores were company-owned stores sold to employees as Franchisors at Moorabbin in Melbourne and Auchenflower in Brisbane.

At this time Franchising in Australia was at its infantility we were one of the first Australian-owned and operated companies to commence. Until then it was mainly the domain of the American fast food Chains and Fuel operators.

Later on in 2003 as CEO of Brumby’s Bakeries Limited, I contacted Howard at IF and he provided advice on Brumby’s expanding internationally. We re-connected and he invited me to join some Round Table networking meetings that he held ¼ ly without charge for CEO’s of large brandied organizations

In 2007 I sold Brumby’s in a hostile taker over to a listed ASX company RFG. Since then as a consultant, Howard has helped to guide me into my new career path.

Howard was posted to Australia by Gillette where he meet his wife Barbara, this was in the early 60’s . After returning to the States Howard moved permanently to Australia in the mid 60’s. After working for some American companies he started his own company International Franchising Pty Ltd in 1969 . Later it was to become known as IF International Group.

Howard is known as the Father of Franchising in Australia, through his perseverance he spread the idea of the concept and got the industry started in Australia. What seems like common place today was a radical new untried idea in the early ’70s when he started spreading the word in any way he could. A number of his employees have gone on too long and successful careers in what is now a huge industry in Australia.

Without Howard’s dogged and determined efforts in starting the Franchising industry in Australia, we would not have such a thriving key sector.He established the sector much earlier than it would have of evolved without his efforts so that today Australia is recognised as a world leader with more Franchised stores per capita than any other country in the world; Annual turnover $12.3Bilion

  • Employs 690,000 people
  • 69,900 franchised outlets in Australia
  • 1250 Franchised systems

     The following brands are only some that I know of that have directly benefited   from Howards input

  • AGL
  • Allied Van Lines
  • Amcal Chemists
  • Angus and Robertson
  • Aussie Disposals
  • BP
  • Brumby’s Bakery
  • Caltex
  • Capt’n Snooze-(now Snooze)
  • Dulux
  • Goodyear Tyres
  • Nationwide Realty
  • One Steel Metaland
  • Red Rooster
  • Shell
  • Volvo
  • What’s new
  • Windscreens O’Brien
  • Yarra Valley Water


Howard almost single handily established franchising in Australia, he then evolved his company to include and focus on channel marketing and focused on his international expansion. As Franchising has grown so rapidly and widely he does not receive the recognition for his pioneering work as only a hand full of people are still around from those early days. The Franchising should properly acknowledge his contribution and make the industry aware of his work since 1969.

Howard semi-retired in 2004 and has continued to make a contribution in franchising as an independent spokesperson in the Media and by serving as an advisor to ACCC and the FCC.