A franchise (also known as symbol group) is a business deal where the brand holder allows another company (the franchisee) to use their brand name.
The franchisee takes the financial income from the business whereas the franchise owner has the guarantee that the franchisee will only sell its products, thereby generating profits from the wholesale of goods to the franchisee. In order to maintain the value of the brand the brand owner will ask that certain levels of standard are maintained.
Franchises and licensed brands have been used by most of the motorway service area operators in order to maximise profits since the 1990s. For the brand holder, it increases their exposure and coverage while avoiding the need to get involved with precise details such as renting land and hiring staff.
This means the majority of the outlets in motorways services are not actually who the general public think they are, they're just the operation of the service operator. This avoids the situation where you have several different companies (each with their own external management) all having to manage one building.
The exact arrangement can vary, but staff and pricing will almost always be the responsibility of the franchisee, who should be the first point-of-contact if the customer has any concerns.
When they first started, Extra insisted that they would keep costs down by not using franchises. While it is true that they don't operate any, others do on their behalf.
Franchising can also used at a-road services, although generally only in the forecourt shop.