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FOR WATCHERS of the economy, the timing of the recent National Franchise Exhibition (NFE) in Birmingham could hardly have been more telling: 3-4 October, at the end of a week during which shares plummeted, economists fretted and yet more banks came at least partly into public ownership. How would all this doom and gloom affect franchising's most important exhibition? Would there be few exhibitors and fewer visitors?
When the exhibition's doors were opened at 10am on the Friday, the assembled great and good of the UK franchising industry could have been forgiven for collectively holding their breath. Moments later, the relief was …