Bachir Mihoubi, founder and managing director of the FranCounsel Group and Marie Laumont, executive director, of the French American Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. companies seeking to expand their business abroad through franchising may be surprised by Bachir Mihoubi’s suggestions.

During a Feb. 6 program of the French American Chamber of Commerce titled “How to expand U.S. brands globally,” Mr. Mihoubi, the founder and managing director of Atlanta-based FranCounsel Group, recommended the Arab States of the Persian Gulf, Egypt, Eastern European countries, Puerto Rico, and even Honduras as providing sites where U.S. brands are popular.

Speaking at Georgia Power‘s community and economic development office at 75 Fifth St., he suggested companies start exploring opportunities abroad by working with franchisees in Canada and Mexico.

He recommended that they explore the province of Quebec over Ontario because of the overexposure of American brands already in the Toronto area, and underscored the importance of having the right partner in Mexico.

A native of Algeria and a linguist who besides being fluent in English also speaks Arabic, French and Spanish, Mr. Mihoubi likes the countries of the Persian Gulf because they are undergoing rapid growth and favor U.S. brands. Shopping malls that lend themselves to outlets for brands, he said, are being built throughout the region.

“When they tell me how bad the United States is, I tell them I don’t know that America,” is how he replies when faced with anti-American diatribes. “Let me tell you about the America I know,” he adds, which turns into a positive discussion about U.S. goods.

He said that he learned to disregard warnings about safety concerns in Egypt when he saw the malls there packed with shoppers.

Mr. Mihoubi said that the most important requirement for a franchise is to provide consistency through a rigorous set of procedures.

Additionally for a franchise to be successful, he said, the rule of law must exist so that its intellectual property is protected. It also must be located where a healthy central banking system exists guaranteeing the ability to repatriate profits.

He favors Eastern Europe over Western Europe because of a strong affinity in those countries for U.S. goods, and said that Eastern European countries tend to be less bureaucratic than western ones.

Concerning Asia, he recommended Singapore and Shanghai as the dominant commercial centers today having surpassed Hong Kong.

Companies seeking to establish their brands abroad often are relieved that they are less encumbered by the threat of litigation. But he warned that in some countries brands can be copied and need to be carefully protected.

He also said that U.S. companies wishing to go abroad need to have proved their success at home with at least a hundred or more successful operations.

Overseas companies also are interested in expanding their franchises in the U.S. such as the group of Brazilians who are exploring opportunities in the Atlanta area this week. To learn more about the Brazilian franchise executives representing coffee shops, health food, restaurants and cafeterias as well as companies in the beauty and health, shoes, clothing and accessories industries, contact Invest Atlanta by calling 404 880-4100.

To learn more about Mr. Mihoubi, click here, and the FranCounsel Group, click here. For programming of the French American Chamber of Commerce based in Atlanta, click here.