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Although the sector has been contracting since the 1990s the rate of decline has slowed in recent years, according to figures collated by the NFDA. The total sector has shrunk by 20% in the 10 years since 2002, when there were 5,956 franchised sales outlets and 7% in the last five years since 2008 when the headcount stood at 5077.
The figures show the sector recovering from the onset of the recession, with 246 outlets closing in 2009, a year on year decline of 4.8% which brought the total down to 4,831. This was followed by marginal growths in 2010 (4,854) and 2011 (4,856) before falling again in 2012 to 4,719.